A remotely interesting year…

2016 has been a great year of growth for CoderDojo but also for me personally. In June, I left the CoderDojo HQ in Dublin to work remotely for 12 months with the support of Giustina and the rest of the CoderDojo team. This has not only been an exciting opportunity for me as I got the chance to travel the world but it also has allowed me to meet more of the CoderDojo community outside of Ireland that I have only encountered over email, on Skype or not at all!

I’m currently in my seventh month of working remotely in Europe, Africa and Asia from berber tents, hammocks or typical office blocks. While it is stressful at times to work without being able to physically participate in meetings with the team or to adjust to changing time zones, it has also proved to be extremely productive and rewarding to work in different environments.

The most rewarding aspect of working remotely has been meeting our volunteers and Ninjas. I’ve had the chance to catch up with volunteers in Valencia, Madrid, Lisbon, Sofia and Timisoara, who were both inspiring and extremely welcoming. Arriving in a city and being able to meet such amazing and vibrant characters instantly has been a huge blessing and I want to thank each of the volunteers who went out of their way to help me see their cities through their eyes.

Meeting these volunteers in person, along with the many notable volunteers who email, forum post or Github their way into my inbox, also gave me the insight and incentive to deliver the best quality projects for them. Continuous feedback from the community, be it on the Community Platform, the E-Learning modules or on technical content, drives the CoderDojo Foundation team to improve and to continue to add value for the community across the board. I want to thank any volunteers who have given us feedback throughout the year and encourage those who are reluctant to speak up; the more voices we hear, either online or in person, truly makes a difference.

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Of course it would be hard to continue this blogpost without also highlighting the CoderDojo Ninjas. Every time that I visit Dojos and each year at Coolest Projects, the young people involved in CoderDojo blow my mind with their enthusiasm, creativity, confidence and, of course, technical skills. Some of the Dojo visits I got to make this year were particularly inspirational. Of course continuing to mentor at Docklands Dojo was always a highlight of my week when I was based in Dublin but visiting the large Dojo in my hometown of Belfast, seeing the Romanian Ninjas and youth mentors in action in Timisoara and looking on at project demos by young people in the Valencia Dojo were real standout moments of the year for me. The undeniable passion for technology that is shown in Dojos week on week, month on month was evidenced in our first Ninja Survey held in August, which surveyed young people from the initial Dojos set up 5 years ago. While a small sample size, it was amazing to see how many of the young people who attended Dojos were still engaging with technology now and how many young people changed their perspectives on the technology industry after attending CoderDojo. In 2017, I’m looking forward to surveying all the young people attending CoderDojo worldwide to see how we can continue to inspire the future digital makers in Dojos.

In 2017 I plan to do further travel in Asia before moving to South America in early February for four months. There I am particularly looking forward to meeting our Argentinian volunteers and Ninjas. You can check out my itinerary here. If you are nearby any of my stops and interested in becoming part of the CoderDojo movement in your area, just reach out.

As I sign off from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I want to thank the CoderDojo Community and the Foundation team for another amazing year. I look forward to an even more successful 2017 with CoderDojo, wherever in the world that may take me.  

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