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Meet Ifihanagbara: Empowering communities in Nigeria through tech

7 min read
Dominique Sabins
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Ifihanagbara Olusheye has been an Answers contributor since 2021 when she placed 3rd in the Educative Technical Writing Workshop for her article, "What is a confusion matrix in Machine learning?".

Ifihanagbara is from Nigeria. She founded an initiative in her community called Arête that strives to educate youth about technology. Her dedication to community is also reflected in her role as a Community Lead for the Google Student Developer's Club on her campus.

Read below to learn how Ifihanagbara finds and creates communities through tech.

Q: What initially interested you about coding?

“I was about 14 or 15 years old when I first took an interest. In fact, it all started because I loved to watch movies, especially in the sci-fi genre – everything was so interesting! From there, I had the idea to study technology because I was so interested in the ideas shown in sci-fi films. Prior to that, I was always using the computer because my mother was a secretary and I helped her by typing up documents on Microsoft word. I ended up exploring other Microsoft applications as well. As time went on and I continued to be interested in movies, I learned more about robots. I researched robots and learned about AI, which led me to coding.”

Q: What are your current goals within coding?

"I want to be the best. I am trying to continue to build myself so that I am amazed at myself. I don't want other people to be amazed by me, I want to be amazed by myself and my progress."

Q: How has technical writing helped you in your career?

"I initially got into technical writing because I was frustrated with the resources available. Early on in my learning, whenever I was facing a technical issue, I would spend close to a week researching the answer online, but it was always a struggle. In some cases I found that I couldn’t even find a direct solution, or I would find solutions that didn’t acutally work. I decided to write my own article so that others wouldn’t have to go through what I did and, instead, could try my solution. This first article was about how to install Juno in Julia.

Ever since then, technical writing has motivated me to learn more because, when I write, people get back to me with positive feedback that motivates me to write even more. It is very satisfying to write something that helps others and it motivates me to learn new things so that I can write about them."

Q: Did anyone help mentor you when you first began coding?

"I had a couple of friends who helped put me on the right path. They were always there for me to ask questions or guide me."

Q: Do you feel a strong sense of community within coding or tech?

"Community is the backbone of everything. Without community, I don't think anything would exist. After all, it is community that builds things, and it has certainly helped me build my career. If you took community out of me, I don't think there would be anything left."

Q: I read that you started an initiative called Arête within your community. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

"Arête is an initiative that I started with a few friends, who are also into tech, within our community in Nigeria. Our initiative is to try to teach children in our community the basics of computer science and Microsoft suite."

Q: What inspired you to start this initiative?

“It started when one of my friends was talking about how difficult it is for children to access computers and technology. Since we knew a few things about tech and had connections with people in the community, we decided we could do something that would benefit the children. A lot of people seem to think that tech is mostly for adults or people in university, but if we start teaching children how to use a computer while they are young, it is going to be easier for them to adapt when they are older.”

Q: What have you learned since you started Arête?

"I have learned patience and tolerance because I had to work with a lot of people. I also had to quickly gain some new skills such as content creation because I had to fill in for some teachers who were not able to make their classes. I also gained exposure to event planning since I had to lead the community. This required me to host events and classes for the students."

Q: What impacts have you seen in your community or in the children you are working with?

"So far, I see an impact on the children who are able to enter a Bootcamp or event and learn to build something. Apart from the children, we have seen impacts on the schools and parents as well. We had parents testify how the initiative has a positive impact by helping their children operate Microsoft tools and computers, and we know that the students are interested in learning about technology because we always have a large attendance for each class."

Q: Did you face any challenges when beginning this initiative?

"Yes, we faced a lot of challenges in the beginning. We had to take things slow because we didn't have financial support at first. We had people who supported our ideas, but it was not enough to get started. Some teachers also dropped out, so we had to pick up their classes for them. Many of my friends offered to help by standing in for classes I couldn't make."

Q: Why do you think teaching computer science is important for your community?

"I think it is important because technology is the future and it is good to put everyone together on that train so that, when the train takes off and we finally enter the future, it will not be strange to anyone and everyone will be able to go along with it."

Q: Do you have any advice for others who may be trying to build a community or initiative?

"You have to be consistent and put your mind to it if you want to be successful."

Q: Does your community motivate you to learn new things?

"My community motivates me to pick up something new or build something so that I can contribute back to that community."

Q: Do you enjoy mentoring aspiring learners?

"Yes, I do. Ever since I became the community lead for the Google Students Developer Club on my campus, I have had to do some mentoring and teaching. The study group was somewhat like training where people would come to learn a concept like Front-end development. So I learned how to host events, study groups, and speak on different topics. I tried to build my presence in the community."

Q: What are you most excited about right now?

"Everything about tech excites me. But specifically, I am looking forward to working in the open-source field."

Check out Ifihanagbara's winning workshop Answer

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You can read Ifihanagbara's entire Answer here.

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WRITTEN BYDominique Sabins

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