Senegal Summer 2013 Blog

l'Agence universitaire de la Francophonie
June 24, 2013 to July 12, 2013

The MIssing Laptop + Updates

Daphne Basangwa

July 2, 2013

Sorry. No pictures for this post. But I promise I have an interesting story and cool updates. :)

So, last evening as I boarded a taxi back home, I realized that I did not have my laptop pouch with me i.e. my laptop was missing! Since the time I remembered last holding the laptop, I had left AUF, taken a taxi to Casino Supermarket, done a tad bit of shopping, exited the supermarket, and boarded another taxi; so the exercise of retracing my steps and guessing where I could have left it be was gut-wrenching, to say the least. 

I decided that it was either in the supermarket or in the taxi that I'd taken from AUF, in which case I would never be able to retrieve it. So I dashed back into the supermarket, searched all spots where I stopped, checked the check-out counter I had used, and consulted customer care. No laptop. My mind was flying in all directions at this point, wondering what life would be like without some of my precious documents, wondering how I was going to continue with the program, wishing I was hallucinating, and somehow also managing to console myself with the fact that a new machine would be better than my old one (I think the mind has ways to distract when it cannot handle the stress).

But anyway, for the purpose of keeping this narrative short, I'll just mention that after multiple futile searches, some of them in weird places, I finally went back to AUF as a last place to look and there it was! In the classroom - neatly stowed away in its pouch and looking very graceful on the table where I had last used it. Oh the relief! I don't know how it was possible for me to leave without it and not notice, but I'm glad it was in the classroom that I "lost" it.

Now back to AITI.

Yesterday morning Eric gave a lecture on product pricing under consumer uncertainty (MIT Class 15.818) and he somehow managed to pack almost a whole semester's worth of material into one lecture and still keep it comprehensive and interesting. What I learned from his lecture is that Starbucks' superior coffee is the same thing as their $1 coffee, only $6 more expensive. ;)

On the technical side, we did an Android calculator exercise to have more practice in building functional user interfaces. We'll still be working on interfaces today (hopefully with more elaborate features) but we're moving on to have the students actually start work on their applications rather than doing short, detached labs. So from this point on, all the code written by the students in labs should build up to their final applications. We hope to have working apps within the next week and a half and I'm excited!

Victoria and I are having a bit of a tired morning today, though excited about our afternoon lecture. I hope to check in again tomorrow to give a brief narrative on Gorée which we visited over the weekend and on a traditional Senegalese restaurant (whose name I cannot remember right now) where we had dinner last night, and of course provide more AITI updates. :)

À demain.

Bienvenue à Dakar

Daphne Basangwa

July 2, 2013


Welcome to the beautiful city of Dakar! The culture here is lively, colorful and warm and the sites - the coastal architecture, the colorful Boubous, and the busy public transport buses - are lovely. To get to the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) where we hold our sessions, we usually use la Route de la Corniche Ouest which, being right off the coast, affords a very beautiful view of the ocean.

Because of visa issues and a crazy itinerary (I shall not mention exactly how crazy, but suffice it to say that I went through a total of six international airports on my way here from Kampala, and I arrived several hours late), I missed the first day of the program. So I missed the introductions and the presentation of the syllabus, but it has been fun catching up, and meeting the students has been lovely.

On the Technical side, Victoria and I did a brief two-day recap of Java with the students, with a participatory lab for each of the days. For Wednesday (day three of lectures and day two of the Java recap), Victoria put together a wonderful World of Warcraft based lab which really engaged the students and myself. She created the game and wrote out its basic structure, and the assignment was for the students to finish it such that it worked, and to add any interesting features.

Filou - One of the characters of the game


On Thursday and Friday we had talks on entreprenuership from David Ly and Jean Hamon (both mobile entrepreneurs) respectively.

Eric with Jean Hamon

Eric with Jean Hamon 


The students organized themselves in teams of about four to begin work on their entrepreneurial android-based mobile applications. Each team turned in a project proposition describing a problem, proposing a possible mobile-based solution, creating a business model, specifying their desired market and identifying potential competitors; and we did a one-on-one session with each of the teams to discuss their project on Friday. It was an interesting exercise: we received a lot of great ideas from a vehicle-sharing system to an application for language-learning.

Team 5 discussing their idea


Eric and Victoria reviewing one of the Team's ideas. No one knows what was so funny.


In the afternoon, Victoria gave a lecture on user interface design after which I gave a brief “Hello, World” type presentation for Android. A few of the students had already tried building an android user interface but everyone caught on very fast.

Today is Sunday and we have a lot to prepare for next week. Victoria has decided that she will prepare a whole week's worth of slides today for the entire week instead of doing the usual all-nighter style preparations we’ve done for each lecture thus far. ;-) So off I go to work.