Before Fatma began her three week TechGirls exchange program in the United States, she had yet to venture outside of her “tiny slice of life in Yemen.”
The exchange took her and other female high school students from a number of Middle Eastern countries to places across the United States to nurture their interest in fields of science and technology. The visits included trips to: Google’s offices in NYC; Facebook’s offices in Washington, D.C.; and the FCC. Throughout the exchange, Fatma claims she was able to grow on a personal and professional level.
“I learned how to design a 3-dimensional game and how to build an app on my Iphone,” says Fatma. “I mean, I literally designed a game of my own! Of course it was not the best game ever, but for me it was because I designed it, I made it special.” Fatma explains that people in her home country often see women and girls as powerless, however through her participation in TechGirls, she was able to realize the extent of her creative and educational potential.
“Abroad, I found a part of myself that I had never known existed,” says Fatma. “I evolved from a shy, stand-in-the-back-of-the-room kind of a girl to somebody who really enjoys meeting new people and getting to know them at more than the surface, everyday level.”
Fatma was especially engaged while listening to Legacy International founder JE Rash discuss the importance of innovation.
“He gave a lecture on leadership skills and how to be a good leader... he truly left a mark in my heart,” she said.
“TechGirls will always be that once upon a time story that will never ever happen again...it started as a normal, educational exchange program but it ended with so much more. It ended with 25 girls from 8 different countries who not only have a dream, passion and ambition but also have a family that will always understand each other. The TechGirls program was all about developing teenage girls to become a future leader.”