The Unofficial Computer Lab of Elizabeth City’s Hunter Street

March 15, 2009 at 12:59 am 17 comments

I wish I could take credit for this, but I can’t. Ryan Somma started this years before I moved to Elizabeth City.

In the evenings he let the neighborhood children come over to use the computer. We live on a less affluent street. Having easy access to computers within walking distance has proven to be quite popular. Currently, we have eight core kids that we see regularly and at least a dozen more who stop by. Sometimes, of course, we choose to, but Ryan and I never have to spend an evening alone. All we need to do is open our door and suddenly the house will be bustling with activity and music and conversation.

Now, I will say a lot of the computer activities tend to involve MySpace and assessments of who has what Lil Wayne layout. But then– there’s homework. We’ve helped them print reports, we’ve help them Google different hamster species for homework or locate pictures of the Obama family or brains. My all time favorite homework moment happened just two Fridays ago. On that sunny afternoon, two fourth graders came over. With the doors open, the house full of spring air and the birds outside singing, they worked on their fraction homework.

Since we don’t have enough laptops to go around, the evening activities are not all computer related. While they are waiting for their turn, children have helped make dinner (one ten year old is particularly fond of opening cans). At Christmas time, they proved to be dedicated taste testers of the chocolate covered Oreos. They love feeding the dogs. They love walking the dogs. They love petting the dogs. And one girl even took a fancy to dressing the dogs. We talk. We joke. We sit outside. Two teenage girls from two doors down are currently stitching their own plastic canvas icosahedrons. And regardless of sex or age, the children seem uniformly intrigued by Ryan’s ability to solve the Rubix Cube.

I’ve gotten to collect a number of pictures with the neighborhood kids over the recent weeks, so I thought I would share some of my favorites.

Hunter Street - Khalif and Armani Enjoy New Loveseat
Armani (foreground) and Khalif on MySpace

Hunter Street - Ladies on OLPC
Two Girls Share One Laptop Per Child

Elizabeth City - Hunter Street - Qualik Works on Homework
Qualik Works on Fractions

Elizabeth City - Hunter Street - Jacal with Dell
Jacal on a Dell

Hunter Street - Jacal and Tyrek On Computers
Jacal and Tyrek On Laptops

Elizabeth City - Hunter Street - Three Little Boys, Three Laptops, Two Dogs
Three Laptops, Three Boys, Two Dogs

Elizabeth City - Hunter Street- Outdoor Computer Lab
Jacal and Qualik Find A Way to Be Outside

Elizabeth City - Hunter Street - Jimmie and Tykee
Jimmie and Tykee

Elizabeth City - Happy Khaliya, Unhappy Henry
Khaliya is Very Pleased. Henry Not So Much (It looks like his bath stance!)

Elizabeth City - Hunter Street - Ryan Solves Rubix Cube with an Audience
Ryan Razzling and Dazzling Two Kids (and Possibly Mollie) with a Rubix Cube

Sometimes it is hectic and more often than not, it is noisy. But on a whole I would describe the experience as fulfilling.

Incredibly fulfilling.

Entry filed under: Elizabeth City, Neighborhood Kids, Neighbors.

Weekly Winners: March 8, 2009 – March 14, 2009 Arbor Day: Arkansas

17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tara R.  |  March 15, 2009 at 6:27 am

    This is such a fabulous idea! Love the pix too.

  • 2. Angel Preble  |  March 15, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    I was wondering what these flickr pix were about! I figured it was only time until there was a blog post. 😉

  • 3. tgaw  |  March 15, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    EDIT – I totally forgot I took an adorable picture of Jacal and Tyrek yesterday on the love seat, so I added it into the mix. 🙂

  • 4. Sheer  |  March 15, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    That’s wonderful.

  • 5. narami  |  March 15, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    That is really amazing!

  • 6. Aaron  |  March 16, 2009 at 7:22 am

    Totally awesome.

    Suggestion: Do the kids a favor and firewall the Lil Wayne.

  • 7. gaugeyagee  |  March 16, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    I’ve tried letting other kids in our place to play with Johny but rarely allow it anymore (only certain kids allowed inside) due to stuff getting lost, broken, etc.

    Really cool and nice of you!

  • 8. Dave  |  March 16, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    That is such an awesome and compassionate act! You are making a great contribution to their lives.

  • 9. Ryan Somma  |  March 16, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    @gaugeyagee: The kids have been pretty hard on some of our stuff. I’m perpetually amazed the laptops aren’t broken, but the kids are very careful with them. We will have to repaint the room they hang out in, but that’s no big deal. : )

  • 10. Anne  |  March 17, 2009 at 11:22 am

    It looks like the walls are white, which means they need to be repainted, anyway. Vicky is partial to Hunter Green, which hides a lot of dirt.

  • 11. geekhiker  |  March 17, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Very cool pix. Wish I could do something like that myself, but by the time my workplace is ready to get rid of an old laptop, the machine is so far beyond repair it’s not even funny!

  • 12. Katie  |  March 18, 2009 at 8:49 am

    It looks like fun, too – you guys have a whole community right in your living room! Major props to you both.

  • 13. Ada Lovelace Day: Mary Lou Jepsen « TGAW  |  March 24, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    […] 1 program in 2007, Ryan Somma (see last demographic above) procured one. It’s now one of the laptops in use by the neighborhood children in the evenings. I would classify our house as a “harsh environment”. We have […]

  • 14. Relay for Life Donations « TGAW  |  April 2, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    […] North Carolina. The proprietors, David and Lisa, are very giving people. Recently they gave me an old laptop for the neighborhood kids. In addition, they have stepped up to the plate and are joining me and Ryan Somma for a first time […]

  • […] packed full of German chocolates. My friend Bill and his lovely wife Priscilla donated a laptop to our unofficial computer lab. The former proprietors of The Riverhouse Coffee Company donated an old laptop as […]

  • 16. Computer Literacy Program – Class 1 – The Bit « TGAW  |  November 11, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    […] 11, 2009 For some time now the neighborhood kids have been coming over in the evenings to use some extra laptops to get on the Internet. My fiancé, Ryan, decided to start an official and structured computer […]

  • 17. Max from Italy  |  September 5, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Thanks a lot for your beatyfull article .


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