Learning how to code is not easy, but Google makes this arduous task easier for programmers. As a self-taught programmer and a computer science student, I got to experience how difficult but rewarding this field is, and that is what motivated me to rise up and try harder every time I felt like giving up. The Women in Tech program’s mission is to give women the knowledge they need to pursue a career in tech, which aligns perfectly with my goals. That is what made me interested in volunteering with this program.
I first joined Paper Airplanes in August 2020 as an English tutor before I was introduced to the Women in Tech program. I believed I could help eager learners with my experience as a software developer and applied as a mentor. As a Syrian first-year computer science student, my goal is to help underprivileged women get more involved in the tech field and provide them with job opportunities that the war might have deprived them of. Being part of the Paper Airplanes family has been a great way to realize my potential, build a powerful network, and reach out to more women yearning for a chance.
Through social media, I have always communicated and collaborated with a diverse group of computer science students and professionals. Here, I would like to ask my fellow programmers: Have any of you ever imagined trying to fix a bug without understanding Stack Overflow? Even worse, have you thought about how the answer can be right in the documentation, but it’s written in a language you barely understand? These may be the nightmares every developer fears. Unfortunately, though, some programmers live through them daily. Some refugees and underprivileged individuals try to escape their unfortunate reality by designing their own virtual world. However, even their newly coded world can be full of errors they cannot debug due to their lack of coding experience or the finances to take programming courses. Luckily, however, the Women in Tech Program at Paper Airplanes is helping female refugees enter the tech field and find a reliable source of income by providing them with programming opportunities at notable companies.
As a web development mentor in the Women in Tech program, I had the chance to meet determined women and future programmers. Seeing their improvement during the course and helping them surpass any problem they faced has been immensely rewarding for me. As a mentor, I hold weekly one-on-one meetings with my students to assist them with their assignments and lessons. I also mentor them during their final projects, which is a website that they must build and present. My students’ motivation and unquenchable thirst for education drive me to give my best to them.
I not only had the privilege to become a member of the Women in Tech family, but I also got to participate in the hackathon that Paper Airplanes organized with Expedia, which was one of my most memorable experiences in my journey as a computer science student. Working alongside professional mentors was a thrilling experience for me. I developed my skills using libraries like ReactJS and dove more deeply into new web development tools. Moreover, having skilled mentors from Expedia to guide me throughout the journey helped me learn and master new concepts more easily.As an experienced Android developer, I am now working on developing an Android course for the Women in Tech program. I believe that introducing more women to the technology field will allow them to discover their true potential and passion and use their creativity in extraordinary ways. Last but not least, I cannot express how much I believe in the power of the Women in Tech Program to transform the lives of hundreds of female refugees and make their dreams come true. I hope this program will continue to grow and empower more women, and I am proud to be part of it!
About the author: Zena Kamel
I am a Syrian computer science student at the Lebanese American University, Class of 2024. I joined Paper Airplanes first as an English instructor in Fall 2020 and then became a web development mentor. I enjoy volunteering and giving back to my community. I also love cats, cycling, and playing tennis.
The views and opinions represented in this post belong solely to the author of the blog post, and are not representative of the views and policies of Paper Airplanes and its staff members.