First Steps at the University of Colima

Friday, January 19

We walked to the University, found Isabel's office, and met her. Very delightful person, originally from Colombia. We gave her the RPI materials we had brought, and some post cards of Albany. Had a very nice visit with her. She took us to our 10am appointment with Maestra Lulú -- arriving a few minutes early. We visited with Isabel and Lulú for a while, talking about the CGSTI programs and such. Lulú has been here for 17 years, and is a founder of many of the fascinating projects, such as Interfaces, and a UNESCO Latin American library project, and "memory of the world" project, and a Digital Library project. They gave us nice University of Colima Interfaces book bags and Tshirts. Then Lulú took us to start our tour. She introduced us to Pedro Damien, director of the Facultad de Telematica. He mentioned some of the projects there, including one led by Ramón which aims to place materials online for distance education (especially materials concerning faculty). I expressed interest in that, and Pedro said I should begin Monday working with Ramón. Then Pedro and Sara gave us a tour of the Facultad de Telematica building, with a large computer-per-student (36) classroom, and 5 or 6 labs, each dedicated to a particular subject (such as Computer Architecture, or Basic Science, or Multimedia, or Network Operation). After this tour, Pedro took us to the CENEDIC building where we got a tour including a demo of a neat CDROM of Latin American Photography. We saw the OCR/Scan room, the photo-scan room, and various other production and programming shops. At the end, Alex accompanied us for the quicker tour of the Educational Multimedia Design labs, where we got a tour from a tall fellow whose name I missed. Finally, Alex took us back to Isabel's office. Isabel got us started on the apartment hunting process.

Monday, January 22

We went first to the office of Intercambio Academico for our 9am appointment with Dr. Fierro. Although we were 30 minutes early, he saw us immediately. We had a delightful chat with him. He is a "retired" medical doctor, and working hard to increase the scope of interchanges involving students at University of Colima. He worked some years at Mass General in Boston, and did some teaching at Harvard in the 70s. After our talk with Dr. Fierro, we joined Isabel for more detailed apartment discussions. As we were leaving, Dr. Fierro invited us to join a ceremonial meeting with the Univ. Rector at 10am on Wednesday.

Next we went to the Facultad de Telematica for our 10am appointment with Pedro Damien. Pedro introduced us to Armando Ramón, who is in charge of putting materials online. We had a nice talk with Armando, and were joined by Martín. They had questions about my experiences, with some considerable interest in distance education. I mentioned the possibility of lectures and seminars. Armando asked me to give a talk about distance education at RPI, and I suggested we start with the broader topic of interactive learning at RPI, and focus in on distance education next. The proposed time of 10am Wed conflicted with our meeting with the Rector, so we settled on 10am Friday. Martín seemed very enthusiastic and between them they decided to invite all the full-time faculty.

Armando Ramón got us set up with an IP address (not DHCP), and supplied the necessary gateway and other addresses. I got my laptop on the net and retrieved my email. I sent a quick note to a few people who were waiting to hear of our safe arrival. Then we had to rush off to make the noon appointment at the real estate office.

Lois met with Genoveva at 5pm while I went back to Armando's office and attacked my email backlog. Lois got back to the office at 6:30pm after meeting with Genoveva and several others. Her plan is exciting -- working with a project in the area of El Chanal with some nursing and social work students to improve the lifestyle of some elderly people, while simultaneously doing some oral history gathering.

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