Love of computer games leads to Computer Science education & leadership

I faintly remember how I would stress over finding the right way to ask for a guest’s phone to play games with, whenever there was an event in our house. My good aunties would just give it to me, with nice a pat on the back, while the “Petunia Dursleys” stressed over tricking me to stop my annoying nag, without having to give their device: win-win for them. Luckily, I do not remember ever being successfully tricked, perhaps because the trick worked so well in making me completely forget my request.

My love for video games turned into a passion to finish the stories of as many games as I could, ever since I first laid hands on my cousin’s PlayStation 2. The clear graphics, the compelling stories, playing on the TV… it was just lovely. As I grew up, I found the ability to create huge worlds fascinating. My introduction to basic programming, further made me believe I, too, could convert my imagination into perceived reality using computers.

Learning that a computer and a PlayStation are nothing more than upgraded calculators came as a surprise to me. It is always crazy to think of our ability to control electrons in such a way that we can modify figures, do relatively enormous calculations in a few seconds, and, create programs that can notice patterns to make predictions. I destroyed my first PC hoping to disassemble the parts, see what’s inside and rebuild it by myself; my parents didn’t react well to it.

The more you understand, the weirder things get.

I am currently on a gap year, after finishing high school, and will be attending Columbia University in New York city, on a full-ride scholarship, in the fall of 2021. With my intentions to major in Computer Engineering, I wonder how different my path would have been had I not been provided with all the opportunities I had. From owning a computer, to having resources to read and watch, to attending Lebawi Academy, I was provided with opportunities that allowed me to jump the hurdle I face in exploring computers and myself. I had the option to take the opportunity. In Ethiopia, I know that is not the case for everyone. The fact that there are thousands of talented and passionate students who are denied the opportunity to explore Computer Science due to the lack of resources pains me. I believe being part of the bridge between students and coding resources is the best way to give back to my community.

On a phone call with Ezra, who is coordinating the CS Bootcamp initiative, he explained me to me how OHBD is trying to design a program that transcends instructing students, to go deeper and tap into the curiosity to initiate a yearning to explore and discover. I saw helping in the implementation was a definite to-do in my gap year. It always is an interesting journey to find the right balance between nurturing an individual’s unique learning style and making sure everyone is on the same page.

In the exploration of one’s self in life, “it is only natural to grow”.

The pace at which growth happens greatly depends on the interaction one has with the environment, and the reflection one has with ones self. I further expected an experience and connection with people that would catalyze my growth in understanding my environment and myself better. The leader within me must be roused to come out, and I saw the challenges to be faced in implementing the program as an opportunity for my awakening.

Through the few months I have been involved with OHBD, I have found exactly what I expected. I am grateful to be working with a team that care for each other as much as getting the work done. I have also learnt significantly from the experience and wisdom of the people at OHBD.