When I went to the first meeting with Damian (co-founder of Social Hackers Academy) to hear about them opening Migracode in Barcelona (sponsored by the European Commission) I had no idea what to expect. With few details it’s fair to say I had no reason to have high expectations. To my surprise and his also, the room in El Born was almost completely full. This is the power of volunteering, I’d hear later on from Mozafar, formerly of Code Your Future, another non-profit bootcamp in Glasgow.
The proposition: teaching coding to migrants and refugees as a volunteer for 3 weeks – 12 hours in total – with no teaching experience required. Now I had been involved in a couple of groups as a teacher/mentor such as at my own bootcamp Ironhack, and Codebar, a regular workshop which promoted diversity, but this would be a level up. However, the fixed nature of the commitment seemed very manageable to me, and I wouldn’t be teaching alone. Myself and the rest of the gathering left impressed and I along with many others quickly signed up.
Getting teachers would not be the problem, Damian insisted from his experience in Athens, but finding dedicated students who were willing and determined enough to complete their 8 month comprehensive program. However students they did find and so began the first cohort of their program in October. I would not join until mid November, and admittedly I wasn’t exactly sure what I would find when I did.
And the students, when I did finally meet them, were just as enthusiastic as promised and although faced with tough new material every class, kept returning faithfully with smiles on their faces. The impact I wanted to have was easily achieved after every “a-ha” moment that we went through together, and I had to be sharp myself in order to repackage the more technical material into concepts more relatable and understandable to new developers.
So after 3 weeks and, actually 24 hours of teaching – I signed up for two sessions per week – I finished my module, happy with my work. However I had been bitten here, and will return in the new year when the students start their projects, putting all their hard fought learnings together when as I promised them, the ‘real fun’ will begin.