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At my alma mater, each class visited St. Vincent's Home for the Aged once a year to interact with the old ladies. In Class X, we went for our last visit to St. Vincent's and when it was time to leave, an old lady held my hand and said, "You are in your last year at St. Teresa's. We won't meet again. Do well in life." Touched, I said, "We will". I proposed we do something unique for the old ladies and planned a tour of a few pandals of Kolkata during Durga Puja with them. We arranged for transport and planned the outing such that the old ladies have maximum comfort. Despite having the approval of the teachers, the authorities of the old age home were extremely reluctant to let us go ahead. We assured them that we would care for them well and that four teachers would accompany us on these outings with the ladies who had not left the old age home in years. When they were still not convinced, I approached our principal to talk to the authorities. It took the better part of a day to convince her, when she was convinced, the authorities could not say much to disapprove of our plan. The outing was immensely successful; the joy on the faces of the old ladies was moving and I thanked myself for not having said goodbye earlier.

As the PRO of the Linux Users' Group of NIT Durgapur I was a part of a meeting to decide how to appropriate funds granted to us to spread Open Source Software across Bengal. The members had differing ideas about what to do; so while a popular idea was to hold competitions on Linux among college students, some of us thought this funding was provided with a more diverse target base in mind.

I proposed we start by popularizing Linux among the students of a nearby economically backward School to reduce the school's software costs and prevent piracy. We bought two PCs for the school and started conducting weekly classes to teach the students simple open source applications like TuxPaint, TuxMath. We soon noticed that the students only accessed the computers when we came to teach them and hence the lessons were not being effective. The teachers blamed it on the lack of interest of the students but we discerned the real reason, that the teachers were extremely unfamiliar with Linux and they didn't allow the students to use the computers in our absence "lest anything goes wrong". We then decided to conduct Teacher Training Workshops where we familiarized the teachers with Linux and encouraged them to teach the students instead. Our endeavour found a greater acceptance in this way and soon we observed a marked change and the program served its purpose better.



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