Web design, programming, and film production – oh my! This year’s TechGirl participants were treated to a cutting-edge dose of digital development as they began their three-week visit in the United States with a week long technology camp at American University. The camp provided hands-on training in scripting websites, operating DSLR cameras, coding with Java, and taught the fundamentals of planning, shooting and editing film productions – this set the bar for a prolific exchange program!
In addition to engaging with technology, the girls were paired with technology professionals for a day of job shadowing and also met women engineers at successful companies like Google, Yahoo and Bank of America who gave them career tips and allowed them to tour the facilities.The learning and networking opportunities were endless as they also met with non-profit organizations such as Girls Who Code, an organization working to close the gender gap in the field of technology, and Do Something, an organization that motivates young people to take action in social causes using technology.
The girls also participated in cultural activities to develop their leadership skills, improve their understanding of American society, and encourage community engagement through volunteerism. The only activity on the agenda not related to technology allowed the girls to experience volunteering by working with the staff of the Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project. They helped to harvest vegetables on a rooftop in New York City that were later distributed to the community through a local food pantry with the goal of creating a food secure urban community.
By the end of the technology camp, the girls were able to use their newfound skills to create a functional project they may continue to build upon after the program. And, by the end of the program, the girls returned home with new ideas, experiences, and action plans they can share with their schools and communities to build a better world!
TechGirls is an international exchange program sponsored through the State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs that encourages high-school aged girls from the Middle East and North Africa to pursue careers in science and technology.