Flying 19 hours with 7 hour transit just for a three day stay at the US is worth it only if you are planning to do something big. My three day trip to the US, with two of the days spent at the Ada Camp was worth it as every moment spent with the Ada campers was highly stimulating.
On the first day, we began by introducing ourselves, which was fun because we had to do it in three words! It was hard to find the right three words to describe myself! (medico, blogger, Wikimedian?) Then, I went about meeting people who had come from different parts of the world. It was hard to decide which session to attend, because there were eight wonderful parallel sessions at a time, and given a chance, I would want to attend all of them! There were, in total, 32 sessions, spanned out in two days, which were attended by a mix of audience – students, professionals and jobseekers.
I attended four sessions on the first day of the Camp, which were very useful :
1. Can the women’s movement save Wikipedia?– The discussion was about the gender gap issues in Wikipedia and the role of existing women editors in increasing the participation of women in Wikimedia projects. The suggestions that came up where very interesting, and the Wikimedians who participated in this discussions planned to launch projects to improve women’s participation in Wikiprojects.
2. How to convince people about the importance of gendergap in Wikimedia projects?- It is often difficult to make people understand the seriousness of the problems related to gender imbalance in the editor community, and this session proved to be useful in knowing the attitudes of people who are against gender-sensitive projects. There was a productive discussion on what is to be done in order to provide more attention to gendergap in Wikiprojects.
3. How non-techie people can contribute to technology projects?- This session featured a discussion on the role of non-techie people in projects that deal with technology. Many women who had no prior experience with technology said that they were comfortable with tech-related projects. After all, anything could be easy for you if you are willing to learn!
4. How to choose a mentor?- A session with heavy attendance on the qualities of a right mentor, the reasons why you should have a mentor especially if you are a newbie, issues with women having male mentors and what to do if the mentor behaves badly with you!
The second day was interesting too! It was on this day that I got acquainted with Python and webapps! The sessions in which I participated in the second day are:
1. Ada Camp in other continents?- On reaching out to more people through the Ada initiative, conducting Ada camps in different countries and challenges involved in doing the same. Wish we could conduct the next Ada camp in India!
2. How to program in Python?– Not having programmed in Python anytime in the past, it was interesting to find out the basics of programming with a bunch of women with similar interests. And yippee! I created my own programs in Python to perform simple tasks!
3. 10 moves that could save your life – The code for the moves, I still remember, is HACKERPUB. It was interesting to see the moves being demonstrated, and we split up into couples and practiced a few of the moves on each other. It built my confidence to know a few awesome moves that could be of help when in the face of danger.
4. My first webapp – The session helped every attendee in creating her own webapp. Creating a webapp on one’s own might sound too complicated, but it proved to be easy when the facilitator guided us through the whole process.
The participants were served Ethiopian and Lebanese food, and it was awesomely delicious! The notes on the sessions were documented on piratepad for future reference. The closing session on both days featured some awesome games, and all of us seemed to enjoy participating in them.
A few things I decided to do after deriving encouragement at the Ada camp:
1. To move completely to ubuntu.
2. To learn more of Python-programming and complement my knowledge in Python in making useful edits in Wikipedia.
3. To involve in projects that welcome newbies to Wikiprojects, making Wiki-editing a pleasurable and rewarding experience for them.
My participation at the Ada camp gave me insights about the issues that I might face at the workplace and University as a woman, ideas to deal with them, and to excel in the chosen field of work by encouraging others to participate by mentoring, learning and by managing time to create an effective work-leisure balance.
Sincere thanks to Mary Gardiner and Valerie Aurorafor inviting me to attend the Ada Camp. Many thanks to Google Inc. for sponsoring my travel and accommodation.