What I Learned from Volunteering with Code in the Community: Hear from Big Kid Si Hui
October 29, 2019
Earlier in October 2019, we concluded our last run of Code in the Community – our Google-sponsored initiative bringing free coding classes to kids from lower-income families in Singapore – for the year! Since the programme’s inception in 2017, we’ve seen all kinds of volunteers help to run classes across the island: students, hardcore techies, educators, parents, and more. This most recent run, our own (non-technical) videographer Si Hui volunteered to assist Scratch classes for kids ages 8-11 – here she shares her experience as a non-technical, first-time instructor, getting kids started learning to code.
Hi there! I’m Si Hui, and here’s some background information about me:
- I’m a motion graphics designer at Saturday Kids.
- I don’t code (I’m trying to!).
- I have the personality of a lobster.
So how did a socially-awkward motion designer with little to no programming experience end up volunteering as an assistant instructor for Code in the Community?
It started with Shreya and Michael jokingly asking if anyone at Saturday Kids wanted to help out with the Scratch classes. Teaching has always been an interest of mine, but I’ve never given it serious consideration. I decided I had nothing to lose by trying it out, and I’m glad I took the plunge.
The most stressful part of the entire process was probably applying to be a volunteer. It was a busy period for me — juggling work, two travel itineraries and learning how to use Scratch turned out to be pretty challenging. For the Scratch volunteer application, we had to create an ‘Avoid the Falling Objects’ game. I got carried away while exploring Scratch and went off-topic by building a ‘Catch the Falling Objects’ game instead. Oops. I ended up creating a second game that better adhered to the requirements.
Si Hui’s first and second Scratch games – pretty damn impressive for a first-timer.
Fast forward to Day 1 at Jurong Regional Library: “Wow, that’s a lot of kids, how are we going to manage?” was probably what I was thinking.
It was hectic, trying to get everyone’s name, asking parents if they’d be back to pick their kids up when the class ends, and low-key freaking out about sending a kid off with the wrong parent — all while other kids were streaming into the Pixel Lab. But it turns out that my worries were unfounded, thanks to the help provided by the library staff, our location coordinator, and all the volunteers. (Speaking of volunteers, I was stoked to find out that one of them was a kid, who is a beneficiary of a previous CITC run!)
Throughout the entire run, I got to witness lots of growth from the kids — Nirupan, who initially struggled with concepts, ended up helping and encouraging his friend who was feeling nervous before the presentation. Avya, who got over her fear of failure and built her project on her own at home. Aufa, who missed a class, had his Mom email us for help with his project. Shreenithi, who was terrified of speaking in front of a full room, yet didn’t shy away from presenting when it was her turn. The list goes on… but you get the idea.
It was extremely heart-warming to see the kids and their parents pour their time and dedication into the programme. Watching each child persevere and overcoming the various challenges they faced was inspiring — it kept me motivated and looking forward to each week’s session despite everything else that was on my plate.
You know how as we grow up, there are those little memories that stick with us throughout the years?
It could be a funny incident, an inspiring story, or even a simple compliment. I hope we were able to give the kids moments like these; experiences they can look back on fondly, that might even help shape them into better versions of themselves. I know that embarking on this journey has done that for me, and for that I am grateful.
Special thanks to everyone who helped out at Jurong Regional Library — you guys are wonderful, reliable people and I’m so lucky to have met and be part of such an amazingly dedicated team.
Psst! To any aspiring volunteers reading this, please don’t hesitate to sign up! If a social potato with no coding background was able to contribute, so can you. The next run of Code in the Community kicks off soon and the team is always looking for volunteers – find out more and sign up here!
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We’re inspired by and grateful for volunteers like Si Hui who dedicate hours of their weekends to making an impact by getting kids excited about the potential of tech. ♥ If you’re curious about volunteering for Code in the Community, find out more on our website or write to us at here!