KDE is once again taking part in Google Code-in this year, a contest to bring 13 to 17 year-olds closer to Free Software. I asked some of our students to write about their experience with KDE. Here’s the third one by ctaka.
“What have I gotten myself into with the Google Code-In?! I’m smart. I get good grades. I’m good at learning stuff. Yet I kept running into little problems on every task. What makes it so frustrating is that it’s basic stuff. I feel like I’m learning to walk again. And look, now I’m talking to myself …”
Ohhhh, the stories my mentors could tell you! Fortunately, the three of them are sworn to secrecy. [Note: This includes you too, Lydia … although I have yet to do something eye-roll-worthy. But the task isn’t over yet. Just give me time!!! hahaha] What I am at liberty to say, is that working on the tasks and getting things done is very satisfying, but the best thing about the Google Code-In has been getting to know the mentors. KDE has some really amazing people.
My first mentor, who shall remain nameless (hint: his name rhymes with Mascha Sanns!), welcomed questions and suggestions. He laughed at my misconceptions and good-naturedly pointed out reality. He was very patient and appreciative, and it felt great to have my work acknowledged. (THANK YOU, Mascha!) Even after the task was over, he encouraged me to learn DocBook, as it is widely used in industry. So I’m working on that. Lafar, whose name I have so cleverly encrypted (I’m a walking Enigma machine), works for CERN. He may as well have said, “I work on Mount Olympus.” It’s the same thing. Still, he found the time to explain APIs, answer my questions about CERN, and offered very constructive feedback. And then there’s Anne-Marie, who is very efficient at diagnosing problems. It took her all of three questions to figure out what I was doing wrong. Of course, that was after patiently waiting while I muddled through learning to use IRC. Note to others: If you want to chat with someone, don’t bother looking for a nice, big “Click here to reply” box or button. It’s about 5mm tall and is disguised as part of the bottom border.
I’m impressed with how well my mentors communicate in English, and am inspired to continue studying Spanish until I become as fluent. I am aware that they are helping us with Code-In tasks in addition to their regular jobs, and this encourages me to become more selfless. I love the idea of free and open source projects; I had no idea this type of collaboration was going on. Welcoming students to work on their projects makes me feel like the world is not so big and far away, and that we can work as one to advance society. As a result of the Google Code-In, I am developing more than code; I am developing into a better person.*
@ Anne-Marie: Don’t forget our virtual pinkie swear.
@ Lafar: One basket of cookies delivered to your altar every third waxing gibbous moon when the sum of the digits of that day is evenly divisible by 3. Got it.
@ Mascha: Just remember that I have your email address … and I’m not afraid to use it!
@ Lydia: Please disable the mentors’ “reject” button. If they don’t currently have that option (for when students request tasks), you might be getting some requests! LOL =D
*Disclaimer: I have not done any actual coding yet, as I am waiting for winter break and a task I think I can do without causing too much pain to my mentor—HAHAHA. But linguistically, it seemed like the perfect phrase.