In Conversation With: Rachel Auslander, Founder of CoderGals

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Today we’re very excited to share a recent conversation with had with Rachel Auslander, the prodigious founder of CoderGals. As a high school junior, Rachel started a program not unlike ours, but here in the United States. She provides free coding courses to elementary school girls to get them excited about STEM from an early age. The program is now available in Read on to learn more about all that CoderGals has done for America’s next generation of female coders, and how the organization was able to expand rapidly!

Your program has had such widespread adoption across the country. How were you able to achieve that?

CoderGals was able to scale across the country through the power of high school girls and social media. Our program is free to implement: we use free online resources, computers available in schools, libraries, and community centers, and mentors receive community service hours.  

How have you been able to accomplish so much at such a young age?

Lots of persistence! Coding and starting an organization both require lots of trial and error and a willingness to keep learning when you don’t know how to do something. I’ve learned over time to believe in myself and my ideas — and other people have believed in me too.

What motivated you to start your program?

When I first learned how to code, I did not have any female STEM role models to look up to or a community of other girls to code with. I lost in interest in coding, but regained interest a few years later when I realized the impact that I could make with code. However, I still didn’t have a community of girls to code with or female STEM role models to look up to, and didn’t want other girls to have the same problems when they learned how to code for the first time. I founded CoderGals to show elementary school girls how coding connects to their interests and provide them with relatable female STEM role models – high school girls! IMG_8547

Which coding language is your favorite and why?

I like Swift because I enjoy making iOS apps to solve problems. In CoderGals workshops, my favorite language to teach is MIT Scratch because it is easy to learn and even beginners can create interesting projects with it!

Why do you think it’s so important, especially for young women, to learn to code?

It’s important for young women to learn how to code because we can make innovations to create change – we have big ideas and unique perspectives that we need to put into action. Coding is a super impactful tool that can help solve global problems. The world needs our ideas, now more than ever, to make a difference!

What advice do you have for our students as they begin to learn to code and start their own businesses?

 

Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do something because you are a girl or because you’re too young. Go for it! Seek advice from people who are more experienced than you, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and keep on learning

California Dreaming with the AMENA Center

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We are thrilled today to announce our strategic partnership with the AMENA (Asia, Middle East, and North Africa) Center for Entrepreneurship and Development Center at the Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley.

Through this partnership, we’ll be able to provide so many new resources to our students from job opportunities to mentoring.

This partnership was a natural fit for us as the AMENA Center’s mission is to narrow the economic development, gender, entrepreneurship, and innovation gaps in the AMENA region through programs and initiatives that advance human capital development, build a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, reverse the effects of the brain-drain, and produce academically rigorous policy oriented research.

Together, we’re sure we’ll be able to make a difference in how the Middle East educates the next generation of women! Some of the exciting programs at AMENA include their new MENA Group, MAP, and PARS. Stay tuned as we continue to work together and change some lives.

Moving On Up in Herat

 

This week, we were excited to begin construction on our second floor at Code to Inspire.

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We can’t believe how far we’ve come, and can’t wait to accommodate more students, more classes, and more ideas.

Speaking of which, our next class of students took their entrance exams today:

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We’re so pleased to be able to expand each and every year, and provide a free coding education to even more girls and young women in Afghanistan. The more women we empower, the better Afghanistan will become.

In fact, the Blossom Hill Foundation, which aims to “invest in peace through innovation” agrees with us, and they’ve selected Fereshteh as a 2017 fellow! If you’d like to support as well you can do so here.

In conversation with Horeya Kabiri: An Artist and Child at Heart

Horeya Kabiri

Horeya, hard at work at CTI.

Today, we interview one of our graphic design students, Horeya. She is currently studying graphic design at Herat University – read on to learn more about her and how Code to Inspire has affected her life.

1-Tell us about yourself.

I am Horeya Kabiri, and I’m 21 years old. I graduated from high school in 2014, and I now study graphic design at Herat University in the Fine Arts department.

2-How did you find out about Code to Inspire? Tell us about your journey to CTI, how you compare yourself now from to the very first day you joined CTI?

I found out about Code to Inspire on social media, and it changed my life. I’ve always looked for a place that would support my growth as an artist and where I could work to improve my professional growth, and Code to Inspire has been that place for me ever since I was accepted after passing the entrance exam.

3-What have your learned so far in your Graphic Design class? What do you like about it the most?

Graphic Design is an astonishing, and complex form of art. That’s why it was important that we learned all of its rules, starting with the basics. I love all parts of it, but digital graphics and animation are my favorite.

4-Tell us about one of the digital paintings you have done so far and like the most? Is there a message behind it?

I always say that Graphic is my language, and I use it as a tool for communication just as I do with words. I usually use a surreal style when I create my designs. For example, this digital painting represents the mothers of Afghanistan, and how they are in our hearts while also coping with their own problems.

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5-How do you think graphics and design can empower girls and women?

I see a bright future for female graphic artists. No one can stop them if they believe in themselves, and it can help them enter the global economy.

6-What is your message to people around the world as a girl in Afghanistan?

Afghan girls are not just competent, but capable and ambitious. All we need is peace, and we’ll change the future.

7-Tell us the fun fact about yourself?

My friends always call me blithe! One fun fact though is that whenever I meet children, I basically turn into a child myself and get on their nerves.

Want to ensure Horeya and her classmates can continue their education? Keep on donating!

Interview with Bibhash Roy – Code to Inspire Volunteer

For today’s blog post, we’re interviewing one of our volunteers, Bibhash Roy, who hails from India. Read on to learn more about his perspective on our work, the impact and importance of a proper education, and how women are perceived in India.

Tell us about yourself and your background.

I’m an engineer turned tech entrepreneur with a background in electrical engineering and information technology. Throughout my career, I’ve held positions at global companies including PricewaterhouseCoopers and Siemens. Now, though, I’m focused full time on my work as an entrepreneur.  

How did you find out about Code to Inspire and what motivated you to contribute to our mission in Afghanistan?

From Ehsan Ehrari, one of the Code to Inspire’s mentors. He told me about it when he expressed interest in one of my Git courses at Udemy.

What is the status of women accessing a STEM education in your country?

I’m from India, a free country with a rich legacy of democracy. While women technically enjoy equal rights as men, in reality, they don’t always have the same access to the economy or a proper education.

Indian women, however, have come of age and are taking big strides in contributing towards economic prosperity & their education in our country, especially in STEM. Another barrier is that the Internet hasn’t reached as much of the population as it has in developed countries in North America or Europe, but it is, of course, widely used.

Why do you think it is important for women to be technologically literate and know how to code? How does it empower them, especially in underserved communities?

Generally speaking, women comprise approximately 50% of the population in most countries.

Therefore,  if women are denied access to education and the economy, then the growth & prosperity of a nation becomes severely lopsided and stymied. Technology empowers society. When we arm women with education, especially in STEM, underserved communities can begin to catch up.

What is your message to people around the world about Code to Inspire’s work and Afghanistan?

Code to Inspire is doing commendable work to empower women of Afghanistan with a STEM education. I urge people and organizations around the world to contribute to this worthy cause.

 

A Conversation with Code to Inspire Student, Farahnaz

  1. Tell us about yourself: (name, age, education, etc)

I am Farahnaz Osmani. I was born in 1997 in Herat City. I graduated from the high school and graduate school in 2015. I became interested in the art field and entered the Faculty of Fine Arts, and now I’m studying at the Department of Graphic Arts for the second year.

farahnaz Osmani

  1. How did you find out about Code to Inspire? Tell us about your journey to CTI, how do you compare yourself now from the very first day you joined CTI?

Along with the courses in college, I wanted to pursue auxiliary classes. So I was looking for a place that was excellent and reliable in all respects, as I learned through social networking about the CTI school. When I entered the school, I encountered an environment that was excellent in all respects and I wanted to be a member of the CTI family. After successfully passing the entrance examination and interviewing, I really felt good. The purpose of this school and the efforts of the mentors help me make every effort to make the most of each opportunity and learn.

  1. What have you learned so far in your Graphics and Design class? and what do you like about it the most?

Graphic art is very extensive, one part of which is graphic design, and I was able to master it through the studio using the Photoshop program, and showcase my ideas and creations through the program, which is really engaging and it is interesting.

  1. Tell us about one of the digital paintings you have done so far and like the most? Is there a message behind it?

I am of the opinion that any idea that is in the mind of a graphic artist is in fact a clear goal, and it is also influenced by the environment and society in which it lives, and it is very good to express everything we have in mind by graphic arts. Each of my designs also has a clear message that I plan to design and later turn into digital.

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  1. What is your message to people around the world as a girl in Afghanistan?

Afghan girls have extraordinary capabilities that will be far more advanced than men if they are supported by places like the CTI School. And I believe that the creativity and ideas that girls have on graphic arts can make a material difference.

 

 

Student Spotlight: Shakiba Mirzahi – Graphic Designer

 

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1. Tell us about yourself: (name, age, education, etc)
My name is Shakiba Mirzahi. I’m 20 years old. Now, I’m a junior studying Art at Herat University.

2. How did you find out about Code to Inspire? Tell us about your journey to CTI, how do you compare yourself now from the very first day you joined CTI?
My brother found it, actually, on Facebook. Since joining, my ability in graphic design has improved tremendously.

3. What have you learned so far in your Graphics and Design class? and what do you like about it the most?
I’ve learned a lot and now I can’t stop coming up with concepts about graphics and design. Generally graphics and design is my favorite field and the most favorite part of graphics and design is drawing, portraits, and animation

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4. Tell us about one of the digital paintings you have done so far and like the most? Is there a message behind it?
I made this graphic about the relationship between mothers and daughters that I like the most:

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5. What is your message to people around the world as a girl in Afghanistan?
As an Afghan girl studying art in college, I want Afghan women to know that they should never sacrifice their success due to the everyday challenges we face. If enough of us preserve in our goals, Afghan women will be able to accomplish so much. As you know, Afghan women face many challenges and every day we fight against these challenges until we become successful and I am sure that one day Afghan women will come over.

6. Tell as the fun fact about yourself
I like vegetables and fruit. It’s all I will eat. My family members try to convince me to eat meat, but I have not eaten it yet. Please pray for me that they will accept me as a vegetarian!

Watch Fereshteh’s Speak at MIT Solve

 

Feresheteh had the exciting opportunity to discuss Code to Inspire (and the future of the world, its problems, and solutions generally!) with the Editor in Chief & Publisher of the MIT Technology Review, Jason Pontin, and Stanford Researcher/Curer of cancers, Jack Andraka.

Speaking to what they want the world to look like by 2050, they discuss encountering adversity and finding its solutions.

 

In Conversation With Hackathon Winner, Hayedah Rasouli

Read on to learn about how Hayedah is uses coding as a tool to both express herself and save homeless children!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

CTI: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us! Tell us about yourself.

HR:  I am 21 years old, I have studied web design for 2 years at Code to Inspire, and I studied English language at literature faculty of Herat University. I also studied ICDL at USWDP.

CTI:  How did you find out about code to inspire? Tell us about your journey to CTI, how do you compare yourself now from the very first day you joined CTI?

HR: I found out about Code To Inspire from one of our family friends. When I heard about it, I thought we would learn about computer programs like Microsoft Suite. I didn’t have the frame of reference to understand what we even would study!

My sister and I came to the school, and on the first day we were shocked by what we saw and learned.

I will never forget how, on the first day, our teacher said, “HTML is like the foundation of a house, and CSS is how you design your house.” That really motivated me, but I was overwhelmed. How could I learn to do all that? Then, I realized the things I could do with coding. It was beyond all of my wildest dreams to be honest. I could finally show the world my point of view, all of my wishes, what I’m made of.

When I look back now at my first day at Code to Inspire, I think it’s safe to say it’s the best thing that happened in my life. I am so happy that I have an outlet through coding and web design to express myself.

CTI: What programming languages or framework you have learned so far?

HR:  We have studied HTML, CSS, Javascript, jQuery, Bootstrap framework, and now we are studying WordPress. I feel more powerful now than I did on my first days of school, and I am eager to become a Professional Front-end Web developer in future. I have so many ideas to help my people solve their problems by coding! I want to share their strengths and weaknesses to the world to have a better country and people!

CTI:  Your group is one of the winners of our March 2017 Hackathon in Herat, tell us about your project and what issue it is addressing?

HR: We wanted to help the homeless children in Afghanistan. it is a very complex problem that we face today as our country has many orphans, and there’s no clear solution. While we know it’s not something we alone can solve today or next week or in five weeks, we wanted to do something to address it. Someone has to!  So I set out three different solutions

  • Through coding, I can raise awareness of this issue and create a platform where Afghans and people around the world can donate money every month to the orphans.
  • Leverage the power and ubiquity of smartphones, and create an app where it’s easy to send the homeless children money.
  • Collect data on which parts of the city need the most help, and mobilize volunteers to go and facilitate donations.

I wanted to create three-pronged approach, so that there’s an option for everyone to get involved.  Our goal, ultimately, would be to raise enough money to create a safe shelter for these children where they have access to school, sports, and food and ultimately find a better life for themselves. If we’re able to help these children, Afghanistan’s next generation, a lot of other issues will settle too like illiteracy and lack of education.

CTI: What is your message to people around the world as a girl in Afghanistan who is a coder?

HR: My message as an Afghan coder girl is that women can do and change any thing that they want and they each other’s strongest supporters. They just need to achieve their rights – rights that have been taken from them. We need more schools like Code to Inspire so that more people will appreciate and support our progress.

Fereshteh and our teachers are making this possible! I really want people to know though that girls who code can solve problems well beyond just herself: she can help her entire society.

CTI:  Tell as the fun fact about yourself

HR: Everything I do, I do to help impoverished Afghans. I have big dreams, and I want to create charities all over the world – beyond just Afghan orphans. I want to save orphans all over the world.

 

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