X-Volunteers is X-Team's initiative to teach IT skills to eager-to-learn locals in developing countries. It's our way to pay it forward, to give developers a better chance of creating the life they envision for themselves.
Our first X-Volunteers project was in Kenya, but we're !Done. This October, Eury Pérez spent a few weeks teaching IT skills in Egypt. More specifically, Eury collaborated with Cairo Hackerspace and MakerExpress to meet new developers, teach them new skills, and introduce them to the X-Team lifestyle.
Cairo Hackerspace is a space where developers and engineers can work on their individual projects or on group projects. The Hackerspace provides the developers with Internet, machine tools (such as a 3D printer), electronic instrumentation, electronic components, and raw materials needed for their projects.
MakerExpress is an initiative by Cairo Hackerspace and Eshbook to travel across Egypt with a mini-bus converted into a mobile makerspace. The idea is to bring the maker and co-working movements to new locales.
I asked Eury about his experience teaching in Egypt.
Hey Eury! Let me start by asking why you decided to travel to Egypt. It's a long flight from the Dominican Republic.
I'd been thinking about something like an X-Outpost, but to help locals instead. It had always been something I wanted to do. I don't really care how far I have to fly for it. If there's a possibility for me to do something like that, I'd do it. When the X-Volunteers opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it with both hands.
Love it! The X-Team spirit. What did you teach and what were the students like?
My specialty is Android, so that's what I taught. From basic to advanced. The students were quite young, mostly between 16-22 years old. They were just starting their journey in software development. It was so much fun. They were all so excited about what they could do with mobile app development skills.
What do you think of the work that MakerExpress & Cairo Hackerspace are doing?
I think both are doing a great job. They're reaching people of all ages (although mostly young people) who want to learn new, exciting things. They were my hosts and they took good care of me as well. They made sure I enjoyed the particular culture of Cairo.
Talking about Cairo, it has such a different culture when compared to where I come from. It's definitely a little bit chaotic when it comes to traffic, but the people are so heartwarming and my hosts really made it easy to enjoy my experience in Egypt.
You didn't just visit Cairo. You've traveled through much of Egypt. What were some of your favorite activities?
I love history tours and there's just so much history in Egypt. I visited as many of the famous places as I could in the little time I had. My favorite place was the entire city of Luxor.
So much happened in Luxor and Aswan historically. There are so many different ancient places, temples, museums. And the Valley of the Kings, of course, which is right next to Luxor. Quite possibly the most unbelievable place I've ever visited in my entire life.
What would you say was your biggest learning from teaching developers in Egypt?
I'd say that I learned never to judge countries or people based on what you see in the media. I made so many new friends in Egypt, visited some of the most incredible places in the world, and was brought into a very interesting and warm culture.
Final question: did you meet up with any X-Teamers along the way?
I was the only X-Teamer at MakerExpress & Hackerspace, but I did end up meeting another X-Teamer: Mohammed Abbas. He lives in a city 3-4 hours away from Cairo, but he came all the way and we had lunch together.
I loved that. It really felt like I was part of a worldwide family. Here's an X-Teamer I'd never met, who comes all the way to Cairo and tells me that I just need to call him if there's anything I need. Given that I was so far from home, it made me feel safe. That's what's so awesome about being an X-Teamer!
That's great to hear. Thank you for your time, Eury!