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How It All Got Started...
From a journal of the team leader, Melissa
Monday, March 22nd, 1999
My mom reminded me that the ThinkQuest application deadline was approaching fast... This is the 3rd year that I've wanted to enter the TQ competition, but I haven't been able to think of a good idea or get a team together... I brain-stormed for a couple of hours, and came up with the idea for our entry... eBiz4Teenz
Wednesday, March 24th, 1999
This afternoon, I labored over a three paragraph description of the entry... I wrote, re-wrote, and wrote some more. Finally, I had something I was satisfied with. I was trying to think of who could be a part of my team, and I decided to contact my friend Jory.
Friday, March 26th, 1999
My coach (also known as Mom) and I were talking today, and were trying to think of who might be another good team member... We looked on the ThinkQuest boards, but couldn't find anyone quite right. Then, my Mom remembered reading about a 13 year old Jamaican who was doing technical advisement for the Jamaican government.
Makonnen David Blake-Hannah. We started searching on the web to see if we could find an email address for him... After e-mailing a online Jamaican publication who did an article about Makonnen, we finally did find a listing for his mother, Barbara Blake-Hannah. I wrote a long letter to him explaining who I was, and that I wanted him to join our ThinkQuest team.
Sunday, March 28th, 1999
I hadn't heard from Makonnen or his mother yet, so I sent a copy of the letter I wrote to a fax number I found on the same site as the e-mail address.... Hoping that if it was a corporate fax number, she would receive it Monday morning.
Monday, March 29th, 1999
I STILL hadn't heard back from Makonnen yet and it was getting really close to the deadline, so we looked on the same place we found the e-mail address and found a phone number. I quickly wrote it down, and rushed to my mom to see if she knew what time it was in Jamaica... She said it was probably two hours after our time, so that means it was probably lunch time there. Not a good time to call. I got busy doing other things, and when I looked at a clock again it was already 8:15pm in Texas, which by my Mom's estimate it would mean 10:15pm in Jamaica! Too late to call. We didn't know if the estimate was right, so I found out what time it is in Jamaica by using a program called EarthTime. It was only 9:15pm there!
I wasn't brave enough to call, but I did dial the number for my mom... After about 10 "All systems are busy" messages, we finally got through! A man answered, and when my mom asked for Barbara he was very confused... But we finally talked to somebody who knew Barbara (apparently he was her ex-husband), and he gave us a new phone number. We were very excited to be on the right track, and dialed the next number immediately after checking my emailbox for a response.
We got the same "All systems are busy" message another 10 or so times... When we finally got through I had already memorized their phone number! Barbara answered on the first couple of rings, and my mom explained that we had been trying to contact her and told her about the contest. She was very exited! She said gave us a new fax number so that we could fax the letter to her, and she said she was logging into her computer right now to see the email.
We sent the fax right away, and went back to the computer.... Waiting for a familiar "You've Got Mail".... After about 20 minutes my mom went to do other stuff, and I started chatting online. Midnight.... 1am.... 2am.... Still no mail, or no fax. I re-read all of the information about TQ.... My mom had been in bed for hours, so I finally went to sleep at around 3am after giving up on getting a response that night...
Tuesday, March 30th, 1999
I woke up around 7am, and I rushed to my computer and signed online in record time... I was VERY disappointed when there was nothing from Makonnen or his mother. I ran to the fax machine, and there was nothing there either... When I told my Mom she said to wait a couple of hours, and mentioned that they may not have been able to get online or receive a fax for a reason.
A couple of hours went by, and I couldn't stand it anymore! I dialed up the number again, and my mother spoke to Barbara who was very glad to hear from us again... She was up all night waiting for the fax and email, but they never came... We didn't know what happened to the fax, but she did say that she couldn't log into her mailbox, and that was why she couldn't get the email. So my mom put me on the phone (I felt brave enough to talk now), and I filled out the necessary forms while I was on the phone with her... I was so excited to getting close to finalizing my team, that I didn't print out the information TQ gave me... That I needed to put Barbara and Makonnen on my team! So, I called Barbara back (my first international phone call!) and asked her to forward her all the information that she received from TQ once she logged into her mailbox.
I left the house for a couple of hours, and when I came back around 7:30pm there was still no mail from her. I was getting very antsy, so I called Barbara back to find out what had happened... She wasn't able to log onto the Internet at all, so she couldn't send me the email. She gave me the password to her Hotmail account, and told me to go ahead and retrieve the mail. I ran to my computer and after I got the TQ information from their mailboxes I finalized our TQ team. As soon as it was finalized I called Barbara back and thanked her, and then I got to talk to Makonnen for a little while (before I my mom hinted how expensive international phone calls were)...
While we were figuring out how we were going to keep in touch, Barbara mentioned that Makonnen had ICQ, and wanted to know if I had it also... My initial response was "Ooh no... He can't use AOL Instant Messaging in Jamaica," something I am very familiar with... I had used ICQ once before, most un-successfully and deemed it irrelevant and difficult... AOL had a much friendlier interface. But as soon as I got off the phone Jory and I both downloaded copies of ICQ and successfully learned how to use it... Which turned out to be really cool, since many of our other online friends also use ICQ.
Later on I called Jory since he wasn't online, and let him know that we had finalized the team.... Both of us were so excited about our new team member, that we ended our conversation with the traditional Jamaican good-bye ( "One Love!") in honor of Makonnen.
Wednesday, March 31st, 1999
Today all of the team members received parent-approved status. :) Our team is finalized, waiting to be screened, and breathing easier. I'm an experienced ICQ user now, and have switched to the Advanced User mode (after being totally offended to find out that I was previously operating in the Beginner mode). Today Makonnen is again experiencing technical difficulties and cannot use the Internet at all... Hopefully he will be able to get on ICQ by tonight. We are learning a LOT about communicating with developing countries.
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