I found my way into the non-profit space purely by accident. When I was online, reading my daily blog sites, I came across an interesting phrase of Internet-in-a-Box, of course I was naturally curious and wanted to find out more. After emailing the original creator, I was invited to a Skype call to get an overview of the project. “Sure!” I said, thinking that my interest would subside after finding out about the project and sending out a tweet. However, everything changed when I found out the true scope of Internet-in-a-Box and and their friends over at Kids on Computers.
The non-profit ecosystem is big, with many contributors, friend organizations and a seamless connection between all of it. I started out by helping Internet-in-a-Box (known as IIAB for short) and continued providing my skills as a Web Developer for Kids On Computers while even helping the Kiwix team. I honestly must admit that I never thought that I could help out so much by providing my professional experience. That is to say, my small contributions go a long way.
I was invited to come down to Pasadena California for a Linux convention called SCALE. I consider myself to be quite an introverted person and enjoy doing all of my interactions behind a screen. I’m not sure what it was in particular that made me decide to go. Perhaps it was the thrill of teaching kids about technology or the excitement of blasting out work with the entire team during the multi-day summit, but with only a week to go I found myself with a purchased ticket.
The day of the summit was glorious to finally be able to meet the Kids on Computers team alongside with the friends-of nonprofit IIAB. We had sites to launch, booths to set up, Raspberry Pis to initialize and a ton of work to be done before the big day at SCALE. We are hosting a booth after all and everything must be absolutely perfect. However, thanks to the dedicated efforts of everyone onboard and the extremely friendly and drama-free spirits of the group, everything went smoothly.
Running the booth was a pleasure. I got to be a spokesperson representing KoC informing hiring managers, system admins and geeks alike what KoC is all about. The responses has only been positive and even got a lot of donations and interest in the cause. I think everyone just felt so strongly about investing in our future of children. Who doesn’t want to help children after all?
The next day was even bigger. We reserved an entire room in the Pasadena convention center to create an entire 4-stage workshop for kids. Much like what we do when KoC deploys labs around the world, we constructed a lab focused on informing parents of our process and teaching kids about programming. The best part of all of this is that kids were allowed to learn at their own pace and engagement. Depending on their prior knowledge and experiences, facilitators would assist the kids in programming on their level. This resulted in those who were barely 9 years old who could program a robot to perform tasks, kids that created applications in Scratch and being equipped with the knowledge to spread open-source love with the know-how of Linux installation.
Overall, my experience with my trip to Pasadena for Kids on Computers has been extremely satisfying even though I am out of my comfort zone. Being able to share my knowledge and see children genuinely interested in computers, programming and open-source software has brought a lot of satisfaction to my life. I am glad I found Kids on Computers in such a serendipitous way and enjoy continuing my contributions with them.