TechGirls From the Middle East and North Africa Learn New Skills at Virginia Tech

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The 2018 TechGirls at Virginia Tech for their summer program.
The 2018 TechGirls at Virginia Tech for their summer program.

TechGirls From the Middle East and North Africa Learn New Skills at Virginia Tech

Meet the TechGirls – impressive coders, designers, and programmers from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) who come to the United States each summer for a three-week STEM-focused exchange program, the centerpiece of which is a weeklong technology camp. TechGirls is a program of the U.S. Department of State, designed to empower and inspire young women from MENA to pursue careers in science and technology.  The participants come from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, and Tunisia.

This past summer, the TechGirls studied with American professors and students at Virginia Tech, exploring topics such as Java programming and mobile application development. The results – a meaningful experience for all involved!

The camp is complemented by additional activities such as site visits to technology companies, leadership clinics, community service opportunities, job shadowing, and cultural events. This year’s group even had the opportunity to meet leading women in STEM from TechWomen, the U.S. Department of State program that inspired the TechGirls program.

As part of program follow-on, each TechGirl implements at least one peer training program or service project within her home community. These projects have a multiplier effect, as these amazing young women inspire the next generation of TechGirls to consider coding and other STEM endeavors.

“When I go back to Jordan, I want to implement a new project that has to do with refugees and less fortunate kids," Joanna Kawwa, TechGirls 2018 participant from Jordan, said. "I want to develop our education system using programming and websites I will hopefully develop in the near future.”

About the Author:  Jennifer Baaklini serves in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

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