omorrow is WOW Talks Day - the day when my daughter will miss school thus no longer qualifying for a 100% Attendance Award at the end of Year 10, an award she has been in receipt of since Year 1.
Just a decade ago, when I was a teenager myself, I remember my mum telling me that if I learn English (a foreign language in Uzbekistan, where I was brought up) then the world will be my oyster: “not only will this be your bread and butter, but it will give you opportunities beyond imaginable”.
Unlike my very own rebellious teenage daughter, who has shown very little interest to date to anything #tech #programming #html #css or what not, I somehow followed my mum’s advice and this is what happened: I won pretty much every single “English” school and university competition since age 12; had my own tutoring business aged 14; managed a British Council project in Bukhara (small town I was born in) aged 18; then aged 19 had 40 lives of disadvantaged women dependent on my abilities to market their hand-made crafts, as part of a British Council project in the Aral Sea; aged 23 spent 2 years living and working in Macedonia and co-founded Business Without Borders, which connected the entire Balkans through youth entrepreneurship; aged 25 spent 2 years living and working in Ethiopia helping local craftsmen sell and market their products locally and abroad, as part of World Bank project.
Now, when I am invited to speak to young audiences in schools I talk about one language that I wish every child was fluent at, and that is the language of technology. I encourage young people to embrace the world of tech from a learner’s and a creator’s point of view: understand how technology works and changes the world and then learn to create technology; create technology that will shape lives and make a difference; solve a problem. I also talk about people that influenced and shaped my understanding of the world through all the years I spent travelling abroad and how it is incredibly important to be inspired in order to inspire others, in order to create change.
Tomorrow, a thousand young women (500 young women from secondary schools and 500 young women from universities) will have a unique opportunity to be inspired by some of the most prolific women in technology. They will:
- Learn about the amazing variety of career opportunities in tech
- Hear personal stories of inspiring women who are passionate about their jobs in tech
- Get hands-on experience discovering and demoing some of the coolest tech – from Artificial Intelligence to Virtual Reality to Wearables
- Have the opportunity to network with successful female entrepreneurs and executives who will answer questions about what it means to work in tech
This will be followed by a 2-day hackathon/start-up style event #AcornHackWOW taking place on the 24-25 September @ Entrepreneur First, where teenage girls will be inspired to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology, as well as attend masterclass workshops in digital marketing, branding, APIs, lean UX and Business Model Canvas . The purpose of this event is to equip young women with the tools that will enable them to become change-makers and entrepreneurs of their own lives.
My 14-year old daughter is attending both. I want her to hear from others (not just from me, her mummy!) what an incredibly exciting thing tech is; how technology has penetrated every single industry from music, to fashion, to medicine, to finance; how technology transcends borders; how technology changes lives and shapes us as individuals for better or for worse. I want her to understand the fast-changing world she lives in. I want her to be ready for the world of tomorrow. I want her to become a change-maker.
My daughter will be missing school tomorrow.
- Elena Sinel
Founder and CEO of Acorn Aspirations
Also published on Medium.