In Blackbeard’s Footsteps

In the past few decades scholars have reassessed the reputations of buccaneers and pirates in the Caribbean islands. In addition to being cutthroats they were also involved in small experiments in freedom and democracy. Long before the American Revolution these adventurous spirits longed to live free or die. Next year the Owen Project will be deploying XOs in Nevis. Nevis is the island next to Saint Kitts and was named by Columbus, who thought the mist clinging to its dominating volcano was snow. The devastating hurricane last summer in the Caribbean left Nevis relatively intact, though its schools and infrastructure are primitive and basic. Schools there are similar to those in Honduras and Guatemala, built out of cinder blocks with windows open to the elements. We hope to join with an association of homeowners to purchase enough XOs to cover an entire grade level throughout the entire island. This is the kind of deployment favored by One Laptop Per Child because it maximizes the educational impact of introducing computers into the national curriculum.

We plan to invite graduating seniors from the high school where I teach to join us. Visiting the island last year we noticed a strange phenomenon. Though a tropical paradise, complete with beaches and palm trees, there is a sense of fragility, of quiet calm before some violence- violence here being frequent storms. This was the inspiration for our decision to bring the Owen Project to this island. Following in Captain Blood’s footsteps, we hope to be a modern experiment in intellectual freedom and democracy.

With holiday wishes,

Mark

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