Introduce Yourself

What does Outreachy mean to me? What are the core values I hold onto? How did I get here?

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Reading time: 8 min

Photo by Faris Mohammed on Unsplash

Photo by Faris Mohammed on Unsplash

Growing up I read a lot of my dad’s books, especially those on Astronomy. I was in love with NASA, spacecrafts, star trek…all that good stuff. It was my dream to go to space someday and piss on the moon or something.

Unknown photo credit via Gizmodo

Unknown photo credit via Gizmodo

Ah! the good ol’ days. We had this desktop computer my dad bought and this piece of machinery was awesome to look at. I was curious to use it. I couldn’t help but imagine how much resources I could get access to, oh all those NASA websites. One day I said I was gonna turn this thing on and talk to it and my dad caught me. Oh I knew I was in deep shit. I didn’t get an ass whooping, he taught me how to turn it on. Good man. One week later, it was bad. Honest mistake. He got it repaired and I got it bad a couple more times (too much curiosity) but I was persuing my dream, looking at NASA’s resources and websites all day long, reading about Astronomy on Microsoft Encarta. I was gonna make it to space someday. I knew it in my core. Well, a couple of years down the road and in my early teenage years, reality hit me. The reality that I was born in the wrong part of the country. The reality that I spoke the wrong language (which is English BTW in case you are wondering…weird right?? I mean…it’s English.)

A little backstory

I come from Cameroon. A country in Central Africa with two official languages (English and French), and made up of 10 regions. French speaking Cameroonians make up 80% of the country and occupy 8 of the 10 regions while English speakers like myself make up 20% of the country and occupy the remaining 2 regions (yep, we are the minority). For a long time, anglophones have been feeling marginalized with very low representation in the government and the list goes on and on..I mean you know how it is but the most prominent of all, is that constant burden to wake up everyday in the morning and tell youself, you aren’t half a human being cuz it sure feels that way down here in hell. Well, this gross marginalization and discrimination and constant neglect resulted to some anglophone teachers and lawyers leading a peaceful protest march in 2016 which the Government handled by deploying a millitary crackdown, beating up, arresting and manhandling these lawyers and teachers. This was clearly the wrong response from the Government as this radicalized some other anglophones into picking up arms and waging a full on war with the Government in what is known today as The Anglophone Crisis. It has been going on since 2016 and has led to hundreds of thousands fleeing their homes, assasinations, kidnappings, bombings, murdering children in cold blood, the gov’t millitary burning down hundreds of Civilian houses and everyday it’s just constant and increasing news of attrocities committed from both sides. You can read more on the crisis here Cameroon Anglophone Crsis.

Back to my moon-pissing dream

So yeah, I grew up as a marginalized kid in a very corrupt country. It’s that bad that about 7 in 10 anglophone youth you will meet are involved in this despicable social ill we term today as Online Scams, as a way to make ends meet. You see children today aspiring to be scammers when they grow up and this is just a consequence of the numerous unfair challenges anglophones go through. I told myself I have to be different, I have to show that it’s possible to be something here the right way. I pushed and pushed, facing rejection at every turn untill you start to wonder if you are really that terrible and unskillful, the self-confidence starts depleting, scamming starts sounding real friendly, but NO! I snapped out of it. For the sake of the little ones coming after me I had to push even harder. The entrepreunerial spirit took over and I taught myself photography, video editing and I just fell in love with the arts. I absolutely HATED coding. When I got to the university I hated every bit of the manual process of doing everything. My biggest problem was in learning resources, I couldn’t find like past exam question papers for courses etc. I decided to solve this problem by creating an online platform and host these kinds of materials there as softcopy. I taught, what a great idea. Now how do I do this? Oh yeah….I have to code….right??? No..I got intouch with my friends, one who is Klash Desmond who is an actual guru at this coding stuff. Great guy. He built the platform and we solved the problem. We called it SchoolFAQs and I was excited. But my friend is a very busy guy and coulnd’t add stuff like improvements and tweaks as fast as I wanted…Oh I was infuriated. When I want things done I want them done yesterday. So I had a real motivation to learn to code, I wanted to be able to get things done and not super-rely on others. Tada…. It was like an epiphany, how powerful coding can be and how one could solve real problems just by writing code. So I started building stuff, applying to different kinds of government programs, national competitions etc, all met with the sad reality of politics and corruption. Once again the hope of making in Cameroon..slowly fading way…


What Outreachy means to me

I read about Outreachy earlier this year after Googling around for “tech internships for rejected people” and $6000 when I saw it, I swear it sounded like $6 Billion.
It was just exciting to know of a program like that. I started telling kids about it, scammers etc. Encouraging them to learn code and seek this opportunity. So one day, at a local football match, I was talking about Outreachy to this group of youth and this one guy said “Who do you think you are? You think they’ll ever pick someone here with all those smart people from this and this country” and he ended it by saying massa find ya own keyboard start knackam which in English means “Stop chasing the wind and just be a scammer, at least you can make some money there”. I looked around, and the energy from the crowd was that they were buying into the bullshit this guy was selling. Oh I was mad…In the heat of the moment, one last act of dignity to save face, I told this guy with the confidence of Spartan that I was gonna prove him wrong and I swore to get Outreachy. When I got home, I was like Oh shit, what did I just get myself into.
In reality, it probably had nothing to do with that guy, but this was something I had to do, to prove to myself that I have what it takes and yeah ofcourse to stick it to that guy. So I applied and when time for contributions came, I saw the Creative Commons and just fell in love with the work that they do. There and then my heart was set to work for the Creative Commons. The more I contributed, the less I taught about this as a challenge with some guy and more about me just being part of something amazing, being part of a community that didn’t discriminate me because I said “good morning” instead of “bonjour”. The results were out and I got selected as the intern for Creative Commons. Oh my God, that was a moment. For the first time I had that feeling of being recognized for my skill. For being accepted.
Outreachy has given me hope. The cover photo for this article is a plant growing through bars of iron. I am that plant, and there’s no stopping me now.


My Core Values

I could list probably a lot more values I identify with but what I would classify as of now to be my core values are Creativity, Curiosity, Challenge and Wealth.

Creativity

I love finding new and simpler ways to solve problems. To the guy who challenged me, if you are reading this, take this quote to heart:

" The biggest obstacle to creativity is breaking through the barrier of disbelief.
- Rodney Mullen -

Curiosity

I love taking things apart to see what makes them tick. I find it fascinating how different factors affect the outcome of situations. I always ask myself, “What else is possible? what else can I do with this?".

Challenge

I love things that challenge me to be better. I love solving problems. I love things that push my curiosity and my creativiy.
To build this blog I challenged myself to build something very minimalistic and to not use any programming language I am familiar with or some ready made service like Wix or Wordpress etc. I told myself I have to learn and use a Static Site language like Jekyll or Hugo.

Wealth

Being a philantropist at heart, I have always volunteered my time to orphanages and social causes. I soon learnt that good will and good intentions alone don’t solve problems. Money sets that ball rolling and this is why Wealth to me is a core value.

"Money" by Got Credit is licensed under CC BY 2.0

"Money" by Got Credit is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Well, it’s the end of this article and I just want to thank the Outreachy organizers for this amazing opportunity, my mentors at Creative Commons for believing in my ability.

As of now, I am the new Outreachy Intern at Creative Commons and this is an amazing organization.

"Creative Commons BBB" by steren.giannini is licensed under CC BY 2.0

"Creative Commons BBB" by steren.giannini is licensed under CC BY 2.0

You can learn more about the Creative Commons here. Share this article today and inspire someone out there. Thanks for reading through my crazy mind.

Muluh MG Godson