Guest post by Ayah Soufan, 2015 fellow of Palestinian Territories
Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” For me, there is no better time than now to understand this quote. As I write these words, I remember my journey as a TechWomen participant and connecting the dots makes my heart smile!
I am very proud of myself to have been selected from thousands of applicants from all around the world for this experience. The TechWomen program is a life-changing experience in five weeks. I was so lucky to be mentored at Mozilla, in addition to having the opportunity to visit high-tech companies in Silicon Valley and take part in the cultural events.
I want to share with you some remarkable dots from my journey as a 2015 participant. The first was being mentored at Mozilla and meeting Mitchell Baker, the Executive Chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation. The Mozilla Foundation is a nonprofit organization with a mission to keep the web open and free. I learned about software quality assurance from my mentor Krupa Raj and also learned about Mozilla’s teaching activities, web literacy, leadership opportunities, tools and communities. When I returned to Palestine, I joined Mozilla’s technical speaker development program, TechSpeakers, to increase developer awareness and adoption of the web and Firefox. I learned that it’s important to keep in touch with your host company and your mentors to keep improving yourself and your community.
The second dot was when I visited Cultural Mentor Anar Simpson at her home with other Emerging Leaders, and we talked about Technovation. I shared my experience as a coach for a group of girls in Technovation 2015. After the TechWomen program, I became a regional ambassador for Technovation 2016. I organized the regional Technovation Challenge in my city, and the winning team was selected as one of the semi-finalist teams out of more than 1,600 teams from around the world. One of the girls shared, “Before Technovation I had no idea what I wanted to study in college, but now I know that I want to have a degree in computer science.” This made the whole experience worthwhile.
This is the spirit of TechWomen, impacting the local community and girls, in particular.
The third dot was launching the #IronSisters campaign, which calls on each one of us to commit to helping 100 other women upon returning to our home countries. That’s exactly what I have worked on since returning home. That’s why I continue working with my friends at NablusTM, which is a monthly meetup about tech, business and art for students and professionals. That’s why I participate in Technovation as a regional ambassador. That’s why I volunteer at Mozilla. It’s about giving back to the community and helping other women.
About the author
Ayah Soufan has been a quality assurance engineer since 2012. Ayah is also an organizer of NablusTechMeetups, which hosts monthly tech meetups for the community. She administers Android application trainer for beginners and has worked for an e-learning startup for two years. Committed to supporting her community, she is a coach for girls involved in Technovation, attending many startup weekend events as a participant, volunteer and mentor. Ayah also loves volunteering and is working on her own startup supporting Palestinian girls in marketing and selling their handmade products.