Sunday, September 13, 2015

GirlsGoIT Camp

I've been back at site for about two weeks since camp ended, so that means I've fully recovered, right? As evidenced by the fact that I am only just now posting this, it turns out I could probably still sleep for weeks - I may never be the same again. 

 GirlsGoIT is a program that aims to encourage and support girls and women in Moldova to master digital technologies. GirlsGoIT is a joint program with UN Women in Moldova, Novateca, eGovernment Center, and TEKEDU. I've mentioned it before, as I attended one of their events in the spring with two girls from my village.

It's always time for picture-taking.
This summer, GirlsGoIT held its first summer camp - for two weeks at the end of August, roughly 40 girls came together to learn all sorts of fun things (HTML, CSS, Python, Flask, Bootstrap, &c.). 

Miki, the energizer rock star, leading a team version of Rock Paper Scissors
The camp was designed to be inclusive of different social groups and was for girls ages 16-20. They were divided into 6 teams, and each team worked together on a project that culminated in the creation of a website, which, over the course of the camp, they would learn how to create. They had sessions each day with different trainers and professionals, and each team was assigned a mentor to help them with their project. 

"So, should we retake that, or..?"

Cristina helping her group with something awesome.
Not ever having worked with Moldovan youth in this age group, it was really fun getting to know all these girls. They were all so dynamic, passionate, and motivated - they would (usually) make it to breakfast at 8 and then would work into the night, until midnight and later.. And then get up the next day and do it again! For two. whole. weeks. It was occasionally exhausting just watching them. This was especially cool because it wasn't as if anyone was making them work until midnight - sessions did go past dinner, but they didn't have to keep working as late as they did. They wanted to, because they were learning and wanting to perfect their projects and such. (I, of course, wanted them to go to bed, so I could imagine everyone safe and sound in their cabins while I slept.. But you can't always get what you want.)

Photo courtesy of Aba Ogundipe
We tried to break up the work with energizers, sports during breaks, a morning walk to the nearby monastery, a super cool PCV-organized scavenger hunt, among other things.. But mostly there was just a lot of coding and programming happening, alllllllll the time. It was hard work, sometimes harder than we were all prepared for, but we made it through together.  
Madalina presenting with her group
If I had made two lists: Things I Expected to Happen and Things That Actually Happened, they'd hardly resemble each other at all. It was kind of a crazy two weeks, made up of new friends, more languages than I can ever hope to learn, sleep deprivation, an inordinate amount of coffee, (not enough) dance parties, heart-to-hearts with amazing girls, Powerpoints, websites, creativity, stargazing, mămăligă, Romanian/English practice, Peace Corps powwows, serendipity, and selfies.. with a group of people that I wouldn't trade for anything.

#selfiesunday - photo courtesy of Sara Hoy
I got to see one of the girls from camp this weekend, and I loved hearing how excited she was to meet with her group and to keep working on their project. I'm pretty sure I met the future of Moldova at that camp, and I'm so excited to see what they end up doing in life.

Diana and Ana having SO MUCH FUN

Team "Fii IT" taking a much-deserved break before site launching
Check out the GirlsGoIT FB page to see all the cool things we did, to stay updated on the girls' new websites, and to see where GirlsGoIT goes from here. More to come from me about all this too, eventually.  

Taking a morning walk to the nearby monastery.
Our last night celebration included adorable lantern launching.