Monday, June 9, 2008

Slide Show Online, Chiriquí Artists

One of the really nice things the Panamanian government has done for its people is to set up a series of what they call Infoplazas, where, for 25 cents an hour, kids can use (OLD) computers, both for schoolwork and for personal use (adults, 50 cents).  They're more or less like Internet cafes run by the government and often either next door to or in the same building as what passes for public libraries here in the rural areas.   We used the Infoplazas when we first moved into our house before we were able to get Internet service at home.

The one in Potrerillos Arriba is managed by Marisin Espinosa, a very capable young woman, daughter of our friends Maritza and Ricardo Espinosa.  She is quite computer literate.  The family represents to me the difference between the older and younger generations.  Ricardo and Maritza do not have a computer and I think really don't want one.  Marisin doesn't have one--I imagine she can't afford one-- although her brother Ricardito, who works for one of the banks in Bocas del Toro, has a small laptop.

Not all that long ago, Marisin started a blog for the Potrerillos Arriba Infoplaza.  I finally got over to the site yesterday after a long time away, and discovered that Marisin has uploaded photos of an exhibition of Chiriquí artists that was showing from June 1-8 at the Potrerillos library right next door (we, naturally, missed it).  It's set up as a slide show.  

Worth checking out.

Added later:  I should mention that, naturally, the Panamanian government for one reason or another (and I tend to have dark thoughts about why) didn't allocate sufficient money for the infoplaza in Potrerillos.  So, local  officials went around asking for donations from various people, including ex-pats--who gave.  This occurred before we arrived in Panamá; the Infoplaza itself opened on June 11, 2004--exactly one week after we arrived in Chiriquí.


Laurie said...

The idea of 25 cent use of computers is amazing. We desperately need this in Honduras. I have only been here semi-permanently for a year, and I thought 1.50 was good. But most of my students cannot afford this. Thanks for the input. Maybe a NGO might get behind this in Honduras

Dan said...


Thanks for the link.

I do think that some credit should be given to Charles Colburn for improving the Potrerillos Arriba library. Charles is a Panamanian, born in Chiriqui. He received his university education in California and in London.

Charles devoted substantial time, energy and other resources to making the library an excellent one. I understand that he also played a significant role in making the internet facility available there.

All that seems to be lacking is use of the library.


Joyce said...

Hi, Laurie,

Thanks for your comment.

The Panamanian government subsidizes the Infoplazas, I imagine pretty heavily. And I have to say that yes, they do use the Internet for school projects, but for the most part, they're playing online video games or are tuned into international music stations!

Despite corruption, I'm sure Panamá just has a lot more resources than does Honduras.

I've gotten a big kick out of corresponding with La Gringa, because we certainly do have parallel experiences.


Joyce said...

Hi, Dan,

I've never even heard of Charles Colburn, which means next to nothing, because I doubt strongly that I know even all the ex-pats living here!

The library is used, actually, at least for presentations and the like. The problem that we hear over and over again is that Panamanians aren't readers--it's just not in the culture. I imagine that that can be traced directly to the lack of funds to buy books and here in Panamá, until relatively recently, the lack of public libraries.

What I do know is that a significant amount of private money went into the Infoplaza building becasue the government just couldn't or didn't come up with enough.

Thanks for the information about Colburn. I intend to follow it up tomorrow night.


Anonymous said...

I grow up in Dolega, Chiriqui. I enjoyed this site. It was nice to see that familiar picture of the "Volcan Barú" If by now you don't know that Panamanian government, do no care about the people, read more about panama dirty politics, but I still like my province and there are a lot of nice people...:)