There is a chart for Peace Corps service that talks about the sweet spot of the intersection of the country priorities, the local community priorities/resources and the volunteers skill set. For me, this spot is with technology and digital communications. I love technology and thinking about the future. I follow futurist thinkers, I enjoy reading science fiction and I know that one day I will go up into outer space. I know some of this passion came from the opportunities that I had in school and in after school programs. (As well as spending hours with my mom in the computer lab as she worked on her computer science degree.)
In my village, more young people are gaining access to smartphones and computers. However, there are limited opportunities to take classes and more guidance on digital safety is needed. People need computer skills for almost any job now a days and being aware of the benefits and challenges of the online world is important for everyone.
While the staff at the Unity Community Center was developing their plans for a summer camp, I volunteered to create a tech club with youth from the school and with one of the school teachers. The youth would learn lessons from code.org to teach the younger children at the camp and then we would take time for training to develop other technical skills like web site development, content (photo/document) archiving and video creation/editing. The volunteers would then be able to use these skills to assist with future projects for the Center.
I talked with several students that I knew had interest in computers and volunteering. They got their parents to approve and from there we met once a week for two months. We worked through the lesson plans and divided up the plans so that each volunteer had a section to cover. I also did a demo of the code.org site with the staff of the center and school’s IT teacher. We plan to incorporate computer time into the Center’s schedule and have the youth assist with future lessons.
We had our challenges, my limited Romanian and all the new concepts that the youth had to learn; however, they did an amazing job during the camp. I’ll share more about the lessons during camp in an upcoming blog post.