Ouafae Bousbaa is a 17 year old TechGirl (2014) from Zagora, Morocco. Ouafae continually blessed the TechGirls family with her precision, wit, tech skills, and drive. We can’t wait to see her community-based project come to life!
I could write hundreds of pages about my TechGirls experience, but words would never be enough to describe how incredible it was.
I close my eyes and hear the sounds of teenagers from different places playing symphonies with the keyboards, learning through fun at iD Tech Camps. I remember the Hackathons and leadership clinics. I hear the deep voice of Mr. Rash, the president of Legacy International, talking about values, opportunities, leadership, and humanity. He helped me to see things I hadn’t seen before.
I remember the weekend I spent with my host family—the smell of the perfume of my American mom in the middle of her cooking party. We met her friends, cooked together, danced, shared talents, and discussed many topics during a warm summer evening.
All the activities we did together as TechGirls made me feel for the first time a real sense of belonging.
TechGirls is more than just a coding program, it’s a life changing experience. I’m just lucky to have been a part of it. I met with female engineers from Google, Tumblr, Yahoo, Facebook, Instagram, and Girls Who Code. I have new contacts and friends who are ready to help me anytime. I am now capable of doing things I never thought I could do before. TechGirls gave me confidence in myself and what I can do with my life.
Now I’m not just a girl. I’m a TechGirl.
We’re back from New York, and wow—what a trip! New York is known for its crowds, businesses, and quick-paced lifestyle, but also for all the new opportunities that it has to offer people who have big plans for their future. Young entrepreneurs, business moguls, writers—and game changers like the TechGirls—is what New York draws in. The TechGirls left NYC more inspired than they were when they first glimpsed the city skyline.
Despite how busy Manhattan is known to be, we arrived with our minds set on the prize and beelined our way to Google headquarters. Google New York gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “bigger on the inside.” Despite its serious golden facade between 8th and 9th avenue, it became abundantly clear obvious that Google is no stranger to the “work hard; play hard” philosophy. White boards with silly drawings, art, and game rooms lined the halls along with creative working spaces and a mini kitchen no farther than 150 steps away from each office.
At Google we met Sabrina Bektesevic and Hee Jung Ryu, who makes sure that Google is always up and running. During our meeting, Ryu acknowledged that if she had ever paid any heed to the voices that told her that computers are a man’s job, she would have never found her place in Google.
This same message was reiterated when the girls went to Tumblr the next day—Caitlin Abber of MTV Act hosted a panel with 6 women from the Tumblr office about the importance of supporting each other in the workspace. The TechGirls got some tips on how to put together a successful pitch for their community projects and heard from Elisa Shyu of ever-supportive Yahoo!
Through the TechGirls experience, the participants learn that they are part of a larger movement of females in technology and that nothing they do is truly in isolation—this became especially apparent at our pizza mixer with the awesome and powerful Girls Who Code.
While sharing a slice with girls from Girls Who Code’s Summer Immersion Program, the girls got to discussing their community projects, tech skills, and within minutes, some of them were even talking about becoming business partners!
On our last day in NYC, we visited with Bank of America to learn about the ways that changing technologies support and affect business practices. We visited the trading floor and it was fascinating to see the ways that technology have changed the culture of the work environment. Lastly, Bank of America hosted a luncheon and panel, this time with the TechGirls on the mic. The girls shared their stories, visions, and motivations with a room full of executives, all eager to see them succeed.
When people from seemingly disparate backgrounds with shared passions share a laugh or break bread together, it can help to break down barriers, create energetic conversations, and formulate the best of plans! As learned from the tech elders, mentors, and peers the TechGirls met in NYC, nothing is impossible!