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Chris Cobb and Jenny Roman

By Charlie Berghammer

For our first time readers to “Making a Difference” allow me to review the 4 principal and governing factors which allow our multi cultural community to become engaged.

1. Inspire Change. Provide information highlighting some of our communities biggest challenges, raise awareness and motivate others to take action.

2. Build Community. Connect people with others who share the same vision for change and help them create networks to put plans into motion.

3. Facilitate Action. Offer tools for community members and visitors to our area to make commitments to act and track their progress and results.

4. Strengthen Engagement. Encourage citizen action throughout our local area and Costa Rica by the cultivation of partnerships with other world organizations like Sister Cities International to address our specific needs.

This month’s profile belongs to Chris Cobb and Jenny Roman from the Portalon area.  Recently the school at Portalon was blessed with 15 computers which form the basis of the new computer lab.  We all know that ¨blessings¨of this sort do not just happen.   School Director Jenny Roman, one always known for her persuasion and perseverance was instrumental in procuring the computer lab equipment and thanks to expat Chris Cobb, they now have their first program of computer web page design.  Together they have created the elements necessary to begin classroom instruction for several interested local students.   Read on with excitement as Chris Cobb explains how it all came about!

Looking For Kids With Some Computer Skills

I was thinking about the wonderful computer lab that was donated to the Portalón elementary school: 15 computers each with licenses for Windows and MS Office, and a donated network connection. There is also a wireless network setup, and the school is enabled with WiFi. It occurred to me that there were probably some bright kids who would be interested in learning how to create Web sites.

To date we’ve had four meetings. There are several kids and one of their teachers who are all interested and can see the possibilities. My first goal is to create a Web site for the school. Intro pages, a section for the kids, another for the teachers, and one for the Club Ecológico Los Tucanes. When that is successful, I want to expand it to include other things about Portalón, such as a history of this area.

Turns out my initial idea was too simplistic. These guys pick this up quick. I should have realized that they’d already know a lot about using the Web, checking out their favorite sites, and sending e-mail. I’ve decided to raise the bar and, for those who want, to teach some beginning programming skills as well.

To accomplish this, I’ve installed a copy of the Apache Web Server software on several computers, along with the PHP programming language. PHP is extremely popular these days with software development teams, from small shops all the way up to the Fortune 50 companies. I’ve also installed the Firefox Web browser, along with a couple of plug-in “add-ons” that make Web site development easier to accomplish.

At this point I don’t want to teach basic computer skills but focus just on Website design. So, if you know any “nerdy” kids here in el Distrito Savegre who might be interested, let me know.

I’d like to keep this group rather small at first, at least until I learn a little more of what to expect. It would be great to include some girls, too, so they don’t get the idea that computers are just toys for boys.

Thanks Chris and Jenny for taking the initiative to recognize need in our local community and together finding the resources necessary so these young community minds can be occupied in productive and positive endeavors!!  These efforts are the seeds that will pave the road to professional empowerment for our youth further down the road.  That is ¨Making a Difference!!¨


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