Lara Kasbari, TechGirls 2012 alum offers wise advice for her fellow youth. She writes for the TechGirls 2013 Blog about her experiences from home in the Palestinian Territories.

Lara Kasbari, TechGirls 2012

“Now, to give some advice to my dear new Techies this year! I would advise you to look first for where in your society help is needed the most, then give it your best! Collaborate with others or on your own, start a project, make a plan, set a goal, and follow it!

  • Learn and never stop learning!
  • Develop your technological skills and your knowledge in general!
  • Never give up! No matter how many setbacks you get along the road, you must keep going!
  • And, most importantly, my dear TechGirls: we are the women of tomorrow. We must believe in ourselves and in the power of making a change. Because in the end, all material things go but what we leave behind from ourselves, the footprints we make in the world, these things will stay.”

When I got home from the US to my little town of Bethlehem in Palestine, I saw things differently—I saw them from the perspective of a TechGirl. I also realized how important each one of us is in society. It is people who make a community and our communities depend on each one of us to make it better. Participating in TechGirls made me realize how important it is to be an active member of society, to help our communities grow, and make a change!

I saw the need in my society for youth to learn technological skills. I connected with the Diabetic Friends Society and started a project to deliver basic computer science training for deprived and underprivileged kids.

Lara and her students

Lara and her students

My project was a simple idea that I called “TechKids.” Thanks to the University of Bethlehem, I was able to use one of their computer labs to teach in. The project was targeted toward kids between the ages of 5 and 12 who hardly knew what computers were when the class first started. Most of the students I taught didn’t have a computer at home, so it was a great opportunity for them to finally use a computer and to see its use value in daily life tasks.

The kids came once a week for about a month. At first, they learned the basic things, such as how to turn a computer on and off, and we then progressed to using the internet. I also taught them leadership skills. I believe that learning basic computer skills at a young age is very important, because it will help these individuals in the coming years—especially during this modern technological revolution.

It was priceless to see the smiles of these little children using computers efficiently—those smiles meant the world to me. Honestly, though, these kids taught me more than I taught them. Some had diabetes. To face such a thing at a young age is indescribable…but these kids were so brave and strong. They were ready to face the challenges they had in their lives, unlike many of us, who give up easily and lose hope. These kids I taught had a spark in them that no one could ever shut down.” – Lara Kasbari

TechGirls program is an international exchange program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State, and is designed to empower young girls from the Middle East and North Africa to pursue careers in science and technology, and is administered by Legacy International.