Kenya, Rants

The college where I work runs a small Internet café, and people from Tala and the surrounding areas come to browse the net. I always see people checking their e-mail, browsing Facebook, etc, but about once a month I see someone applying for military contracting jobs with companies like Blackwater and KBR. I don’t know whether I’m more disturbed that Kenyans are applying to go make money murdering people in Iraq, or the fact that United States companies are hiring people from developing countries to fight their battles.

These guys never even ask for help. They just come sit on the computer and go right to where they’re going. It’s like the word on the street is that you can get rich quick if you go to Iraq. Most of this stuff happened during the Bush era, so I don’t even know if these companies are even hiring anymore. I do know that at one time there were more private military contractors in Iraq than actual US Army dudes. Like 180,000 of them or something. Private militaries! Are you kidding me? These companies have their own helicopters, tanks, armored cars, guns, etc… it’s ridiculous. Just go google around and you’ll see stories talking about stuff like how, for example, Blackwater mercenaries are better-equipped and better-paid than US Army troops. Not to mention they have zero accountability (who does a private contractor take orders from?).

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Kenya, Teaching

I have been teaching two classes to students this semester: Introduction to Programming and Algorithms and Network Essentials. So I’ve spent the past eight or nine weeks lecturing, giving assignments, and issuing CATs. I just gave the third CAT to my programming students and I thought it was pretty fair, but I was surprised at the results. Every student got this question completely wrong:

int main()
int salary = 15000;

if( salary > 15000 )
cout << "You have a nice job!" << endl; } else { cout << "You need a new job!" << endl; } }

Asked what this small program would print when executed, they all answered “3.” I wrote this question to test understanding of two concepts: the conditional if/else structure and the “>” operator. I figured that even if the students didn’t understand the programming syntax, logic alone would guide them. After all, “greater-than” is a concept in plenty of other disciplines besides computer science.

It’s not like I haven’t been teaching them! We have definitely talked about both of these concepts in class, and I even had them try similar examples in the computer lab over the course of the semester.

Maybe it’s not supposed to make sense, like the people who built a machine to calculate the purpose of life, the universe, and everything in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy; the machine spent millions of years calculating, only to spit out “42.” Maybe “3” is the right answer and I’m just not asking the right question, haha.


Holy Rosary College has now arrived to the 21st century: we now have a website! You can check it out here.

While my main work here is teaching students and training staff, one of my other responsibilities was to create a website for the college. Well I’m proud to announce that we are now on the world wide web, but before you applaud me, applaud Mark! Mark was the VSO volunteer here before me, and he was the one who originally created the website. Unfortunately, sometime between him leaving in 2006 and me arriving in late 2007, the website disappeared.

A few months ago I stumbled upon a copy of the website on one of our servers here at the college.  After some procrastination I finally got around to updating the college’s contact information and making some phone calls to some people in high places. Behold, Holy Rosary’s website — back from the dead!

Thanks again, Mark!