At the end of my PC Staging in DC we were surprised by a gift of a free Nexus 7 Android tablet from the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA – they are basically the PC alumni association). Google had donated 1,000 of the tablets to the NPCA, and the PC “Office of Innovation” helped them distribute them to us. All of the interested parties hope that we use them productively during our service and have asked that we leave them in country when we depart. In the spirit of these requests and their hopes that we use them innovatively, here is how I am using my tablet to further my service:
- Peace Corps Reading Material
Our training directors have given us a ton of reading material in digital form, some in Spanish and some in English. For instance, we have a history of Nicaragua e-book, the Peace Corps Nicaragua medical handbook, official Peace Corps readings on development and culture, and the entire Nicaraguan public education entrepreneurship curriculum. I’ve been able to get it all on to my tablet to read and reference, which makes it a lot easier to access than reading it on my clunky old MacBook Pro. If anyone is wondering, here is how to get documents from your computer to a Nexus 7:
- Set up your Nexus 7 (you will need a Gmail account and WiFi. If you do not have a Gmail account you will be able to set one up)
- Download to your Nexus 7 an e-reader app (I use Kindle. It is free and easy to use)
- Plug your Nexus 7 into your computer using a USB cable
- The first time you plug your Nexus 7 into your computer using a USB cable you will be able to download a media manager program to your computer from the internet, or it may automatically try to install itself (if you have a Mac you will need WiFi to download the program called Android File Transfer, I am sure of that)
- Once you have a media manager installed for the Nexus 7 on your computer and you have an e-reader app on the Nexus 7 you no longer need WiFi. Just use the media manager to drag and drop the PDF or Word files from your computer to the e-reader app on the Nexus 7
- Playing Games with my “Host Siblings”
I live with a six year old and a four year old. They love Angry Birds. They ask for “la tableta” every day. Enough said.
- Staying Connected
WiFi is hard to come by in Nicaragua, but when I got my hands on it I go on a Gmail/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/LinkedIn/Foursquare/YouTue/social media/blogging binge. Many of you have received messages from me that I wrote on my tablet, and I have even written blog posts, like this one, on my tablet.
- Pleasure Reading
I’ve acquired a ton of books for my Nexus 7. I’ve already finished A Song of Ice and Fire (The book series that Game of Thrones is based on) (I just wrote a post on my thoughts on the books) and write now I am reading The 39 Steps by John Buchan. I’m thinking that A Prayer for Owen Meany is on deck. I’ve heard that in the past PC Volunteers were all about trading physical books to read in their down time, but these days they’ve become very savvy at trading e-books electronically using Dropbox.
- Watching TV Shows and Movies
I have a bunch of tv shows and movies on my external hard drive. Using the same method I used to get reading materials on to the tablet I’ve been able to get videos on to it as well (I think mine has 16 gigs of hard drive space. An hour of good quality video for the tablet ranges from 500 to 800 mb. Right now I am devouring Game of Thrones (I really can’t emphasize enough how depressing it is that I no longer have the books to read) at the rate of about one episode per night. I’ve never watched Breaking Bad, but I’ve got them all queued up and ready to go, as well as about five seasons of How I Met Your Mother, not to mention a mix of movies from a bunch of different genres. If anyone has any ideas how I can get myself the end of How I Met Your Mother and the next season of Veep I am all ears. Downloading and streaming are pretty much out of the question here.
- Reading the News
There are two major newspapers in Nicaragua: La Prensa and Nuevo DIario. La Prensa is on the right and Nuevo Diario is on the right. They give good coverage of Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela, but if you’re interested in New York or Washington, like me, they leave a lot to be desired. Luckily, the NY Times app lets you download articles to read later, so when I get WiFi I download a bunch of articles to devour later on.
Well, 2/3 of these are not really furthering my service, but I’m glad I have the tablet.