The Uruguay Way: Exploring the implementation of One Laptop Per Child


By Karyn DeFranco

This spring term a select few of Union’s students are on a trip of a lifetime, studying at the Universidad de la República in Uruguay. Here, Union students will participate in the Uruguayan implementation of One Laptop Per Child (Plan Ceibal), while taking classes.

This abroad program has been designed to engage Union students through coursework, internships linked to the Plan Ceibal and other enlightening cultural activities. Students have the opportunity to experience a unique education initiative where technology is used to improve society.

Currently, Uruguay is the only country in which the One Laptop Per Child has been fully implemented throughout the educational system, and here Union students can be submerged in courses and internships relating to the Plan Ceibal. The courses offered on the Uruguay term abroad include PSC 243 (Populations in Latin America), a Spanish language course, and a One Laptop per Child course with an experiential learning component.

The Dutchmen started their adventure with a 14-hour plane ride to Santiago, Chile and had their first full day in Montevideo, Uruguay on March 29.  After settling into their assigned apartments, the cultural adventures began. Currently, students are staying with either Uruguyan families or in hotels. According to a blog by Samantha Muratori ‘14 (a Union student currently on the Uruguay trip), an epic vision of the city can be seen on the cobble stone road La Rambla, extending along the coast of the southern tip of Uruguay.

So far on her experience, she has been exposed to a South American type of tea called “mate.” This traditional drink found everywhere in Uruguay is found in specific cups or bowls which, then need to be coupled with a specific straw called a “bombilla.” This traditional drink is packed with vitamins and minerals and is amazingly beneficial to your health.

Similarly, Muratori has also been exposed to the very common display of graffiti in Uruguay; however, unlike in New York, graffiti in Uruguay is more common and is not a symbol of deviance but rather seen as a symbol of expression and beauty.

On Sundays, Muratori and the other Union travelers go to the markets in Montevideo where they can buy almost anything they can think of.

Although the trip has just begun, the Union students have been exposed to so many exciting experiences already. The beautiful sights and culture in Uruguay provide an exquisite, fun and once in a lifetime look into the Uruguayan way of life. There are many more adventure-filled weeks to come for the Union travelers. Tener diversion!



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