SheLeads w Ruki Roy: Reflection

SheLeads was an event that I found out through Coding for Good. It was an event where the organizer Ruki Roy reached out to her contacts for help. Coding for Good was part of helping build their website and part of their advertising team. The event was a conference aimed towards young female aspiring engineers; Ruki made sure, however, to not make the event exclusive and not only catered towards girls. Ruki reached out to a ton of different inspiring speakers whom she video conferenced in. The impressive list includes a former NASA director, NASA engineers, and Georgia Tech and Standford current students. (The poster I created is below) She is an aeronautical engineering student at Georgia Tech with a Brooke Owens Fellowship. I found this event very cool and chose to help organize this event.

I think that I took a lot away from this event. I could not help but draw comparisons to Coding for Goods Hackathon. There was so much I learnt from watching Ruki lead the event – she was filled with confidence and was not scared at all. Things went wrong and she took it in her stride. I found this very inspiring. There are plans for next year, and it looks like Coding for Good will be taking a larger role in this. Things to take away were the advertising had to be better and the audience should have probably been a bit more filtered and perhaps more mature.

Joining Service Exec: New Portfolio Head!

I have joined Service Exec as a newbie this year. Having never joined before, I, along with other old dogs, had to attend a before school started training day where we become familiar with the process of how it runs and what we had to accomplish for this year. It was interesting to see how this group functioned and worked. As an outsider, I felt that my views on it would be unique and that I could give some overall observations onto the workflow and structure of this club.

My role is managing the new service website. I have to lead it to make sure that it is used by the school and tracks all the portfolio events of services. After helping to create a layout, discussing it with the team and so forth, now I have to use a lot of custom CSS and get this thing working. I love being a part of Exec as it is so interconnected to a lot of the other services that I am a part of. Moreover, I get to see first hand the amount of work and effort that goes into all the service events that happen at our school. Students coming early, staying late, setting and packing up: all for a good cause.

My role also allows me to work closely with other members of the team. I work with the, aptly titled, Portfolio Heads, who control and stream the content, and the Communications, who connect with the services and makes sure our website is as aligned to theirs. I also predict that I work with the content managers (video editors/photographers as that is always a main part of a website. I really like website design and creation so am excited for this role and really want to put my all into it and do the best job I can.

Coding for Good: Hackathon Initial concerns and goals

We are doing a hackathon. There is a lot of stuff to get done. I am learning first hand how to plan such an event and am enjoying the process tremendously. I should write down how the idea came about first. My role in Coding for Good seemed to be the contact person or project manager. This role seemed most sufficient for me as I was part of Exec and they always had projects they wanted C4g to do, so I thought me being in it would be easy and most convenient. I went about my role and did acquire new projects. However, the problem occurred when I went up to the most qualified members with a difficult project and they said that that they could do it but they were busy and could probably only take it up in a few weeks. This struck me as I questioned why I was even getting new projects if we did not have the capacity. That is when it hit me to start a hackathon to try and fill the gaps.

Coding for Good: Local Service Leadership Goals and Aims

Here is a folder showing evidence of some of the impact I have had on this service.

I really wanted to join this service this year, regardless if I was selected to be a leader or not. Thankfully, I was selected. I have enjoyed the past year of attending C4g (Coding for Good) and so wanted to continue it. I found that last year it was a really hands-on course and I learned a lot of stuff through the tutorials that Mr. Kann provided. I found out only this year in my HL/SL comp sci class that it was used in the introductory lessons for the HL comp sci students when they first learn Java and creating GUIs. This helped me become comfortable and knowledgeable on some of the software.

This year as a leader I entered with a goal to help spread the word about this service. I thought it was a very admirable service with a lot of potential.

Initial Reflection: Kolkata GC

I have been part of Kolkata since the beginning of High School and its Middle School counterpart: I-India. I have a lot of love and passion for this cause and so always wanted to continue working in this service trying to help the NGO in Kolkata as much as possible. In Grade 7, I think I joined the GC for a very jejune reason, which was connecting the dots that as I am Indian, I should, therefore, join a GC with the name “India” in it. This was purely the only deciding factor in my choice. To offer some defense, I did not really know anything about other GCs as well and so went with I-India. That may have been the reason that I joined, but was far from the reason that I stayed. In hindsight, I wonder what would have happened if I went with my other interest – preventing marine biodiversity loss, aquatic pollution, dissuading sea show patrons, really anything to do with the sea was a zealous interest of mine – and not join this GC that has now been a part of my life for more than four years.

Starting 11th grade, I was interested in pursuing a leadership role in this GC due to my knowledge of how it works and to further showcase my enthusiasm for the cause. I have always had an interest in finance and so took part in tracking the GCs finances last year under the leadership of an 11th grader (12th grader now). I am eager to continue my finance leader role this year and make sure this GC keeps track of its funds and remains a beau idéal for GC’s finance. I have so far, not explicitly taken part in the actual dance part of the GC, but have preferred to more work behind the scenes. This year I am thinking that I do want to get up on the stage and do something. I also want to offer some of my skills as an ex Graphics student by perhaps making some posters to draw even more attention to our main event: Kahaani. I also feel that I am a walking advocate for the show, Kahaani, as it seems that intertwining conversations regarding service, I always seem to find myself yelling “Sign up for Kahaani!”. Now that sign-ups are over, I intrinsically see my self changing the cheer slightly to “Go watch Kahaani!”

I am looking forward to the event to take place and be a success, as it always is, thanks to the deft leadership of the dance leaders and GC chairs. A goal I have for our GC is that perhaps we could be less dependent on this one event and branch out to other smaller events as well to help keep our GC more sustainable and proactive throughout the year. This is similar to an overarching aim the Service Exec, which I am part of, has.

I am also committed to making sure that Kolkata GC reaches the digital age with fervor. As I am a leader in Coding for Good, I know there is a project regarding the GCs website and making it clean and published. I need to make sure this is completed and ready. To achive that means clear communication.

As a finance leader, I need to make sure that I am always organized and communicate clearly with the chairs and relevant members in the GC. I will write another post when Kahaani is closer to see what has changed, regarding my role and my thoughts.

TEDx Reflection

I gave my TedEx Talk in January of 2018.

I am republishing my reflection here:

I have never been much of a public speaker. Yet, what can I say? I jump at opportunities that challenge me. However, at first, I never thought that I could give a TedEx talk. I have never given a public speech, never talked in front of an audience (other than MUN), and never lead a discussion, sharing my ideas and thoughts. I was feeling extremely anxious, nervous that I was not good enough to give the talk and pure fear at the thought of giving it. I think the gravity of actually giving the talk had not approached till about a few weeks before the date arrived. The nerves that were suppressed, inflated. All rising, like a perfect theoretical plot, to its climax the minute before I was about to give my speech. I remember going through all the comic tropes of an anxious person: pacing back and fro, pulling out my hair, and then becoming frigidly still. Aside from not being a public speaker, I was also not a performer. Being center stage, with all eyes on me, though being part of school drama or dance productions, never appealed to me. For these reasons, I will never forget the 10 minutes before I gave my speech and the 10 minutes after.

While preparing for TedEx, what kept on being my motivation was the topic of my talk.  Truly, I wanted to share my ideas and was constantly bewildered by the fact that I had such an opportunity.  I remember the weeks leading up to TedEx were a complete haze. TedEx formal discussions and meet-ups began in around November, December. Around these times were the Grade 10 Mocks. Because of this, my time was conflicted. I argued that the Grade 10 Mocks happens now, while I still have the winter holiday to work on my TedEx presentation. So that is what I did. During my December holiday, I worked and reworked on the talk’s thesis and researched. It was a leaden time, where I was struggling to create a speech that I thought met this arbitrary level I had set for myself. When I would do this speech, I would say to myself, it will have to be done to the highest quality I could possibly give. I was in a sort of bind during that holiday and struggled to produce anything I was proud of.

The next important time period before the talk was the weeks leading up to it. It happened so, that I was still making revisions and editing my speech till the last minute. I read books on how to give a Ted Talk and watched countless TedEx talks to see how other people were presenting. Time and time again, it came up on how the speech must be natural, like telling a story. This was definitely aimed at someone who was a more natural public speaker, which I definitely was not. As you can see, I had to overcome many internal struggles to give this talk; it took a lot out of me. Having a conversation with the audience was beyond me at this point, so I tried to just follow the outline of my speech that I had written. Perhaps in the last week, it happened such that I was annoyed at the state that my script was in, and wanted to start afresh. I opened a new document and retyped the whole thing. I had already been practicing so I knew the whole gist of it and some good lines. I retyped it from the heart this time. A more authentic and unrefined version. Those weeks before the talk were a blur. The meetings I had with the advisors proved immeasurably valuable. They really helped to calm my nerves, and assured me that I could do this.

The day of, I was jumping up and down, literally. Before I gave the talk, from sheer fear, after the talk, pure adrenaline. I remember, while giving the talk, looking at the audience and connecting with them. I saw my teacher listening to what I had to say, and at that moment, it materialized, that feeling of being empowered and saying things that people listen to. It was a pivotal moment for me.

Here is my script:

My slides: