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Mark Wheatley

Microsoft Certified Trainer and Volunteer Trainer for the NetHope Academy Intern Program, Haiti

Learn more about NetHope Academy Haiti

October 2011. Mark Wheatley, a Microsoft Certified Trainer from Bellingham, travelled to Haiti and volunteered his time to teach a new class of NetHope Academy Interns about configuring and managing Windows and networking. After the two-week boot camp Mark felt inspired by the students’ energy and enthusiasm. Read his post about his experience in Haiti:

IT in Ayiti (Haiti)
by Mark Wheatley

Mark with the class of interns during the fall 2011 boot camp

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to teach for the NetHope Academy Intern Program in Haiti.  I’ve been a teacher for over 30 years and a Microsoft Certified Trainer for half that time. When asked if I would be interested in teaching Windows 7 and a myriad of other topics to interns in Haiti, I did not hesitate.  I loved volunteering with the Peace Corps in Zaïre (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Honduras, and I was looking forward to the opportunity in Haiti.

I gratefully anticipated meeting the NetHope Academy interns and IT mentors at the campus of l’Ecole Supérieure d’Infotronique d’Haïti in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, ESIH or “Ezzie” for short.  Speaking of pronunciation, I was amused to find that Haiti is pronounced in the national language, Kreyol, as Ayiti or “IT”.  So we learned about IT in Ayiti for two weeks.  This program continues for six months with internships, certification exams, and lots of intense study and lab time practice.

What should a Microsoft Certified Trainer expect from a similar assignment with NetHope?  The personal interactions, deep intellectual curiosity and boundless drive and energy surpassed all other training assignments I’ve experienced.

The two-week Boot Camp started before eight in the morning and continued past six some evenings. The class left late for lunch and returned early to share thought-provoking questions and observations regarding our Microsoft Windows client and server working environment.  Such was our distraction, we had to be reminded to eat lunch some days.

Mark offering suggestions for precision questioning

We had to be flexible at the Boot Camp.  Power interruptions and a warm classroom?  Not a problem!  Pounding tropical rains drowning out my loudest teaching voice?  Time to switch to lab activitiesThe dedication and drive of the interns speaks highly of the NetHope selection process.  The program is very well operated and managed.  It is not a free lunch.  Interns are expected to repay about half the cost of the program through a well-orchestrated microfinance system.  The repayment starts only after they become employed.  I could clearly see that the IT mentors (intern supervisors) who addressed the class were highly impressed with the quality of professionalism and communication shown by this year’s interns.

I’m sure I learned as much from this experience as the interns did – if not more.  The interns really challenged me, and I highly recommend that all energetic and adaptable Microsoft Certified Trainers consider volunteering for NetHope.  In thirty years of teaching, it doesn’t get much better than this.   The energy, enthusiasm, and love felt during the Net Hope Academy training continue to inspire me each day.

NetHope: Connect Collaborate Innovate

I’d like to thank NetHope, its sponsors, and all those who made this assignment possible. There is a “program design excellence” that must’ve come from a multidisciplinary approach, and it really shines.  This program reflects a complete lifecycle of events that combine to produce a sustainable, healthy change in the participants.  The opposite of a quick fix, this process looks really promising other areas of international development, not only IT training I also want to thank my company, QuickStart Intelligence, as well as Microsoft Trainers Marc Michault and Andrew Bettany for going before me.  Opokua Oduro of NetHope deserves special mention.  She took care of everything and everyone with a big heart, friendly attitude, and unmatched planning and organization skills.  It’s with deep gratitude that I write about this experience. And finally, let me thank the interns in my class.  You made me want to come to work every morning.  I knew you were giving your best and I wanted to do the same for you.

Peace Corps already has taken this slogan, but maybe I can paraphrase it somehow–“Net Hope, the toughest job you’ll ever love.”

Are your students jaded, bored, or just lacking in vitality? Teach in Haiti!

Learn more about NetHope Academy Haiti