Interview with CTI mentor Saboor Rahmani

Q1.

Short bio of yourself?

ANS1:

I am Saboor Rahmani and I was born on August 1989 in Herat, Afghanistan. After completing high school diploma, I have started computer science faculty on 2010. In 2013 I have successfully accomplished my bachelor degree and graduated from network department.

Q2. What was the reason you joined CTI as?

ANS2:

Miss Fereshteh Forough was my active and hardworking teacher and I have known her since starting computer science faculty in Herat. She founded Code to Inspire (CTI) on 2015, from the first days that CTI established, I have started helping her team as an honorary employee in Herat. Fortunately, on December 2016 Miss Forough the founder of CTI and Hasib Rassa CTI manager, suggested me to work as a finance and logistics employee, luckily this was a big chance for me to become an official member of CTI. I believe that empowering the women will raise up the knowledge and culture in the society, this was my big reason, why I am joint CTI.

Q3.

As a man pursuing a career in tech, why do you think it is important for women in Afghanistan to learn to coding?

ANS3:

Since technology and coding are growing in Afghanistan, therefore this is a good chance for girls to start and grow their knowledge in coding. Also coding is a best way of earning money for girls, because they can work and code from home, office and other areas that no one can disturbing them.

Q4:

How do you see the progress of students from the very first day until now?

ANS4:

As I said, from the first days that I started honorary cooperating with CTI, I did not believe so much that CTI will be the first coding school in Afghanistan with lots of achievements. But after a limited time I found that this center is different from others, I found that CTI coding school really works to empower the girls and women society in Afghanistan. I exactly remember the first days that the school students were not familiar with coding, but nowadays each one of the students can design a website. CTI school held a Hackathon contest between students on March 2017 on the occasion of women’s solidarity month. On the last day of hackathon, the students presented their projects with demos, I was really surprised with their ideas and applications they built.

Q5:

If you want to share a message to people around the world about Afghanistan what it would be? 

ANS5:

Afghans are talented and hardworking, the only challenge on their way is lack of peace and quietness which is their big dream for long times.

Q6:

Tell us a fun fact about yourself?

ANS6:

When I face any problem, I always want to have my own solution and like to find the easy way of solving that problem. This will method increase my self-confidence and help me try more.

Code to Freedom: One CTI mentor on the empowerment coding brings

Code to Freedom: One CTI mentor on the empowerment coding brings

Code to Inspire Mentor

I was born in Herat Afghanistan where I am originally from. I was brought up here. I finished school in 2008 and signed up for the University entrance exam which is the most difficult governmental exam to open the gate to the university.

Computer Science was my first choice for my major, and I was fortunate enough to earn my diploma in computer science in 2013.

After I was done with University, I got the opportunity to work in a public diplomacy program, World In Conversation run by Penn State University. The project was to hold video conversations between Afghan university students and American students as well as NATO cadets. First, I started working as a dialogue facilitator and then became the lead coordinator.

Fereshteh Forough was my university teacher. She was such an inspiring figure in the university and everyone counted on her. She was not only kind to me, but also to everyone in the class. Her kindness and inspiring attitude made her unitinimating, and we spoke often. As a result of our teacher/student relationship, our mutual respect for each other, and similar values, she brought me on the ground floor to Code to Inspire. While I was working, she emailed me about founding a school for girls who are interested in computer science. Her idea amazed me. It was such an honor to be helpful to someone who is so strong and determined. Her plans, determination, mission and vision inspired me to work with her.

As the project manager, I feel strong and determined. We started this entire project from nothing. I can remember painting the walls and appointing the classroom with tables and chairs. We were a completely new phenomenon to our society. And now we are well-known enough. There are a lot of students who know and love our work.

I believe in women’s empowerment, and never underestimate it. I think women should work in tech because they are more innovative than men. They have good ideas and dedicate more time to it. Coding is better and more comfortable for women in Afghanistan because they can code from the safety of their own home. Seeing my students’ passion for coding reinforces my belief that women were born for it. Because in Afghanistan women aren’t exactly allowed or do physical work or to work in the same place as men. adjust Afghanistan is improving, particularly in terms of technology, so women can and should make up half of the tech society.

I wouldn’t imagine young school girls could learn how to code because I couldn’t do it as an adult man, which is why I studied computer networking to escape software engineering. But now when I see them learning with passion and enthusiasm, I feel like participating in the coding classes as a student. Both our school students as well as university students have made tremendous developments in CTI school. They can design websites, develop video games and mobile Apps. This is incredible and not every man or woman can do it. They have experienced two Hackathons in 2016 and 2017 hosted by CTI. Students will be so excited to come to our school and begin coding that they won’t even eat! They’ll show up hungry to avoid wasting time eating or in in transit.They come directly to CTI after they are dismissed from their schools or universities.

I want to say to the world that people are weary of war and terror in Afghanistan. Our people are trying to make Afghanistan a better place, and education is crucial to that. We are studying in the dust, under the hot sun, and in the cold under the storm of freezing snow. We are a strong nation and we’re continuing to educate ourselves despite the fact that there is an ongoing war in our country. The Taliban burning our schools down doesn’t stop us.  And I am saying to the world that now our girls are coding to fight ignorance and build Afghanistan 2.0. This is not small. This will impact our entire society since tiny acts can have profound effects.

The fun fact about me is that I am afraid of coding myself. If I were to pick between collapsing a mountain and coding a simple website, I would definitely collapse the mountain in a day. This is true with most of my male friends. That is why I am more optimistic about females.

 

In Conversation with Ehsan Ehrari: Computer Science Student & CTI Mentor Extraordinaire

This week, we spoke with one of male mentors about what motivated him to join Code to Inspire, his students’ progress, and the larger implications of the program for Afghanistan. Read on to learn more!

Tell us about yourself.

I’m 22 years old, and I study software engineering in the computer science department at Herat University.

What was the reason you joined CTI as a male mentor to teach girls coding?

I wanted to join a cause that helped the women of my country  solve many of the economy, security, and social problems they encounter every day.

Which programming languages and subjects are you teaching your students?

I am teach them how to make games with Unity Game Engine and the C# programming language.

As a man pursuing a career in tech, why do you think it is important for women in Afghanistan to learn to coding?

Due to security and familial restraints, women can’t go outside the city to work. I think through technology, they can make a good income much more easily than without it. Also learning programming skills can empower Afghan women to become financial independent.  

How do you see the progress of your students from the very first day until now?

I remember my first day at Code to Inspire some students didn’t have a lot of knowledge about programming, specially gaming. Now they can easily make their own games. They improve quickly and work very well.

If you want to share a message to people around the world about Afghanistan what it would be?

I hope that the skills I’m teaching these women will bring Afghanistan greater peace and security.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

Everyday I love coding more than the day before. Still, today I don’t love it as much I’ll love it tomorrow.

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WE ARE HIRING!

We are pleased to announce that we are hiring! The Code to Inspire team is looking for a fundraising professional to help us expand our reach and carry out our 2017 goals. Maybe you are interested or know of a skilled fundraiser who should apply?

Check out the job description below and email any questions to info@codetoinspire.org  

We look forward to hearing from you!

CTI FUNDRAISING PROFESSIONAL JOB DESCRIPTION

You:

Do you want to take part in a project aiming to educate and empower girls in Afghanistan? Do you want to help an emerging organization grow and scale? Code to Inspire is looking for a fundraising contractor to join the team and help us expand our reach and achieve our goals for 2017.

Our Mission and Background:

Code to Inspire (CTI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to teaching female students in Afghanistan how to code and find work online. Courses in coding, access to tech & professional resources, and job placement will enable CTI students to attain employment that is both financially rewarding and socially accessible. In areas where women’s travel can be heavily restricted, the ability to work remotely is a key tool in the push for equality. Access to the wealth of the global tech economy enables CTI students to add unique value to their households and their communities, and to challenge the traditional gender roles in Afghanistan with the best argument out there; results.

http://codetoinspire.org/

Description of Need:

We are looking for a fundraising professional to join Code to Inspire Are you interested in forwarding the work of Code to Inspire and helping us in reaching our fundraising goals for 2017? Do you have connections to global foundations and an understanding of the fundraising  process? Do you have a track record of success in fundraising for nonprofit organizations? If yes, we would love to hear from you! A plus – an understanding of Afghanistan and the non profit tech space.

This is a contract position and payment will be negotiated based on the candidate’s skill set and experience.

Description of Desired Outcomes:

At the end of the 2017, we would like to see the following concrete outcomes:

  • At least $40,000 in incremental fundraising
  • Significantly expanded donor network
  • Assist CTI’s Executive Director with establishing fundraising best practices.

Email a resume, cover letter and a reference to info@codetoinspire.org. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

In Conversation with Code to Inspire mentor, Aalem Daneshyar

AalemThis is Aalem Daneshyar a 29 year-old, a 2013 graduate from the Software Engineering department of Computer Science faculty, Herat University. Aalem is one of Code to Inspire’s stellar mentors whose guidance and expertise help the women at Code To Inspire reach their full coding potential. Without Mentors like Aalem, CTI would not be possible!

Why did you join CTI as a male mentor to teach girls coding?

Code To Inspire was established for a great cause; to empower Afghan women and to help eliminate the gender gap in technology. This was enough inspiration for me to join CTI in November 2015.

What programming languages and subjects you are teaching?

We have decided to teach our students one of the cross-platform application development frameworks. These are less expensive and time consuming than native mobile application development. Most of these frameworks, especially the one we use, called Appcelerator, require knowledge of web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, I started by teaching them these.

As a man pursuing a career in tech, why do you think it is important for women in Afghanistan to learn to coding?

Most people, in almost every country, believe that women are not meant for coding or technology. I think it’s time to change that belief and to prove that women can be as good as men in technology.

Today the number of working women in Afghanistan is increasing compared to a few years back, so there will be higher chances for them to be employed as programmers. CTI students can also establish a company of their own or get online employment as a programmer. Therefore the knowledge of programming and coding can be vital to them.

How do you see the progress of your students from the very first day until now?

When they joined CTI they had a very limited knowledge of mobile applications, now they are able to implement their ideas and create mobile applications for Android and iOS platforms.

If you want to share a message to people around the world about Afghanistan what it would be?

There is more to Afghanistan than just the clashes and war reflected through media. We are helping to build Afghanistan version 2.0, by educating Afghan women how to code.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself?

I like fixing things and solving problems, especially computers and mobile phones. Sometimes it takes weeks to solve an operating system issue on an android phone.

From a Refugee to a CEO – The world of connectivity and Global Citizenship

CTI girls

Were you born as a refugee? Have you ever been forced to leave your country because of war? Did your parents leave everything behind and start with nothing but a suitcase in a different country? Have you ever been deprived of access to basic education because of your nationality? Have you been judged or faced bias because of your accent, gender or because you were too vocal in your hometown? Have you ever felt scared and nervous while traveling abroad, standing in anticipation with your passport in hand?

That’s me! I hope this introduction gives you an idea of what I have been through approaching the third decade of my life.

Is wishing for a borderless world where all humans are treated equally too big of an ask? I’m not sure. While I was struggling to overcome fears I’ve faced in my own life, I learned a thing or two about what it means to be a Global Citizen. Human beings working alongside each other without the constraints of tags or labels to create an empowered, inclusive global community.

Knowledge is power and technology is the tool for this empowerment. That’s what made me  become a citizen of the world without considering geographical boundaries. I founded Code to Inspire as the first coding school for girls in Afghanistan and made everything happens in Herat, Afghanistan literally online, starting from the fundraiser, shipping equipments, recruiting mentors, registering applicants, curriculum development and etc. This is the power and connectivity I am talking about which enabled a refugee born who was deprived to access education makes her dream come true and give free access of technical and digital literacy to her hometown women!

Today ( March 8th)  is International Women’s Day and we are celebrating March as Women’s History Month. That’s why we wanted to take today’s blog post to celebrate all these young girls who are coming to our coding school everyday chasing their dreams and pursuing what they love. Just a few years ago, this would have been unimaginable.

Women don’t need sympathy, women need the genuine understanding of what they have been through and how the community can stand with them and treat them equally as men. This is what I am doing for our students in Herat, Afghanistan. I want them to be bold, courageous. I want them to be visionaries and agents of change.

Afshaneh, Munireh, Azita, Nahid, Samira, Razieh, Somaiye and all of our students at CTI are proving that CHANGE IS POSSIBLE. No matter who or where you are!

 

In Conversation with Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest

Sallie - Headshot (1)This week, we’re thrilled to interview none other than Sallie Krawcheck after her recent Facebook Live chat with Fereshteh.

Sallie is known for leading Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney and Citi Private as CEO, and was called “The Last Honest Analyst” by Fortune Magazine and one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business.” Not unlike our mission here at Code to Inspire, her life’s mission is to help women to reach their financial and professional goals. That’s why we were so excited to have another discussion with her about women’s empowerment, finances, and the best way to navigate male-dominated industries.

CTI: Why do you think it’s important for women in particular to gain a deeper understanding of their finances?

SK: Simply put — and this won’t be news to you or your students — knowledge is power. The more you know about your money, the more power your have over your finances and the decisions that impact your future. Start with the basics, like tracking how much you spend and where, and figuring out how much debt you and your partner have (if any). From there, determine much you can afford to save regularly and look for a way to grow your money through investing.

CTI: Can you elaborate on the importance for women – the world over – to gain financial independence from the men in their lives?

SK: Right along with knowledge, money is power — in this case, economic power. (When we combine the two, good things happen, trust me!!) When we are in control of our own finances, we are more in control of our own lives. What does that look like? It can mean the ability to free ourselves from a bad situation, whether it’s at work or at home. As a society, it also means progress for women as a whole, through opportunities such as starting a new business or gaining additional education.

CTI: Do you have a story from your meteoric rise through the ranks of Wall Street that you can share with our students to help keep them motivated?

SK: When I was in my late twenties, after I graduated from business school, I realized something few women in their twenties have ever woken up in the morning and realized: I wanted to be a sell-side equity research analyst on Wall Street!

It was my dream job. I applied to a ton of firms, only to be turned down by all the big names — Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, etc. Finally, after over a dozen rejections, I landed a job at about half my pre-business school salary. It was at a smaller firm named Sanford Bernstein, covering a research area few people were interested in. That’s how I got my start in equity research, and three years later I was number one in my field. Sometimes you have to face rejection (in my case, lots of it!) to accomplish something great.

My advice? Keep going, it will so be worth it.

CTI: Do you have any advice for our students to help them navigate working in a male-dominated industry?

SK: Find a sponsor. What I mean by that, is find a colleague — male or female — who is personally invested in your career success. Aligning yourself with a good sponsor can help you navigate a predominantly male workplace, both in the day to day and also in your long term career. This person should be someone you trust, and someone who will advocate for you when it comes time for a raise or a promotion.

CTI: Although our students are a world away, do you have any universally-true financial advice to share with them as they start their careers?

Save a portion of your salary each time you get paid. Don’t worry about the amount, just get started. Regardless of how much you’re able to set aside, you’ll be amazed to see how quickly it accumulates. Getting into this habit is essential, because as the amount of money you have saved grows, I find so does confidence. You’ll be more financially stable, and more likely seek a new opportunity, or pursue that side gig you’ve been thinking about for a while.

In Conversation with Code to Inspire student, Fatema Alizada

Hello everyone! Please meet one of CTI’s impressive prodigies. We are truly lucky to work with women like Fatema. Her ambition and intelligence shines through in this interview!

My name is Fatema Alizada I am 21 years old and I’ve graduated from computer science faculty of Herat university.

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?

I heard about CTI from friends and teachers and I saw some post about it on social media and I decided to join to Code to inspire to improve my abilities.

When I began studying computer science I had lots of dreams about becoming a programmer but after one year in faculty I found it difficult to pursue my dreams and I decided to change the way I study. I needed a place like CTI and an opportunity to improve my skills. when I heard about CTI and later joined it, I was able to code with some language but I want became a real programmer I love to create websites and applications before CTI this sounded impossible to me. starting coding in CTI helped me to understand everything is possible as long as I try hard, now I am able to create web sites and mobile applications and now I feel much better about myself, and my future. I can say code to inspire has helped me to find my way and it allowed me to challenge myself.

What programming language and framework you have learned so far ? tell us about one of your recent application you developed?

In code to inspire we started coding from HTML, CSS and JavaScript and now we are working with Appcelerator to develop mobile application. My recent project was a mobile application, with the name of Code to Inspire It is all about CTI.App3 App2

Why you think learning to code is important for women in Afghanistan?

I believe every person, men and women, in Afghanistan have lots of problem and living is hard for everyone not only women, but women face additional restrictions and this makes the situation more difficult for women. Like women around the world each woman in Afghanistan has her own dream and talent. Coding for a woman who wants to become a coder is everything. And with coding she can find her position in society and can show her talent to other people and it is a big opportunity for them.

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

My message as a girl who codes is, never give up on your dreams as long as you work hard and believe in yourself anything can happen. One day girls in Afghanistan can be the best – I believe it!

Tell as the fun fact about yourself?

I also love calligraphy and painting. Sometimes, in my free time, I paint and write just for fun.

Thank you for making Fatema’s journey with CTI possible! Support students like Fatema today!

 

In conversation with Code to Inspire student, Samira Ansari

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I’m Samira Ansari, and at the age of seventeen, I just graduated from high school. I actually was interested in learning languages like English and Pashto because I wanted to speak in different languages in order to communicate with different people.

I learned about Code to Inspire from two mentors who came to our school, and presented the opportunity to become a student at CTI and learn about new technology. I decided to join, so I could learn new things.

Before when I saw websites, I thought that the people who had created them must be such smart geniuses. Now when I develop my own webpages, I feel so strong and powerful.

My message to girls around the world is to never stop trying because society cannot be built by just men. It also needs women and girls. Girls should use every chance and opportunity they get to further their education.

https://twitter.com/ansary_samira

Interview with Code to Inspire Student: “I feel more powerful from my very first day that I started writing code”

Today we’re interviewing Boshra Rasouly, a tenth grade student living in Herat. She discusses the importance of changing the perception of Afghanistan and the perception of women in Afghanistan. As she explains, this isn’t possible without support and a helping hand! To keep her and her classmates’ education progressing, donate online at codetosinpire.org.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

What is your favorite subject in school and why?

My favorite subjects are Math, Biology, and Geography. I love math because when I solve a problem, I feel good and happy. I think an understanding of math in particular will help me learn all of my other subjects in school. With Math, I have lots of new and fantastic ideas because my mind is active and fresh. I love Biology because it helps me learn about the human body and Geography because I’m interested in nature.

How did you find out about Code to Inspire?

I heard about it because a friend of my father’s worked nearby. I visited out of curiosity about the school and how it teaches computer science. I didn’t really realize what they meant by “coding!” It was a great day because now I actually understand what coding is and how to do it. I’m going to keep on coding until I’m the best!

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Work from Code to Inspire students

How has your life changed since you have started learning coding?

Since I became familiar with coding my life has changed a lot because I’ve become more familiar with computers and just the whole world of coding.  It’s become a real passion in my life and I dedicate a lot of time to it.

How do you compare yourself from the very first day you start writing code?

The very first days when I came here I was not so familiar with the fantastic work that I could do with coding, but day by day over the past year and a month, I have  learned four languages: HTML, CSS, JS, and JQ. I feel like coding can be unpredictable because whenever you learn from this amazing language you create such fantastic things.

And now I feel more powerful from my very first day that I started writing code.

What is your message to people around the world as a girls in Afghanistan learning how to code?

In Afghanistan, we haven’t progressed as much as the rest of the world.  This is true for coding, where there are a lot of limitations for girls and women. Fortunately today we can see that this limitation is decreasing as women in Afghanistan are proving that we don’t need to conform to outdated ideas of how we should behave.

We can have lives outside of home, work, or school, and  women can participate in different places like coding to show their power and communicate with the world and share their ideas on solutions to the world’s biggest problems.

My message to people around the world is that Afghan women, like all other women, have lots of talent, great ideas, and big ambition, but just they need to a powerful hand and the support of people.

 

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