NavWarriors: Fire Across the Globe
On the occasion of Chaitra Navratri, an Indian festival celebrating nine forms of feminine power, School of Fun decided to adapt the occasion into a nine-day mentorship program helmed by a Google engineer and educator, Sourabh Soni. Originally hosted for nine young women for the Kanya Pujan ritual, this number was ultimately reduced to seven across the world.
The program ran from March 18 to March 26, 2018, and was hosted as a Google Hangout. The course included an introductory class in HTML programming, mentoring on diverse career choices pivoting on computer education, and, of course, the experience of working at Google.
This pilot program was geared toward demonstrating how digital education works on a relatively new platform targeted at connecting the unconnected. The registration form for the event was unlike any other. It didn’t demand a strong academic portfolio. It didn’t judge anyone on the basis of their past performances or future projects. The program simply believed in the willpower and determination of the applicant.
Of course, limited seats meant we had to cut some of the most promising applications and there had to be a benchmark to select the final participants. Our application portal was a simple two-slot questionnaire—one for basic contact information and the second for a response to the question, “What is your little story on the Earth so far?”
It took two days to execute this pilot program, but we received an unbelievably high number of applications telling us incredible stories of amazing women from at least half the globe. Sourabh had a tough time selecting the top seven candidates from the heap of extraordinary applications.
The classes were quite an experience—after all, it’s not every day that you come together with women from vastly different cultural backgrounds. Although the Internet is a powerful tool, it takes effort and time to establish meaningful connections with someone sitting half a world away from you. Not to mention, the coordination between different time zones was in and of itself a task to master. But it all worked out. Every day for an hour, we coordinated four different time zones across the world to come together.
When the classes started, we admit that it was somewhat chaotic, but our intention was the greatest motivator of all. The minute everyone signed into their Hangout and came on board with the classes, there was a sense of comfort in building a potential team that could take the world by storm. The introductions reflected the diversity of our world and the team we wanted to build.
The classes were focused on teaching a basic HTML game, something the girls could create as their own. The time flew effortlessly from one day to another. There was something to learn every day, and many stories and ideas to share. The game that the participants built would integrate and reflect each participant’s story, which was the most thrilling part of the program.
So the team was built, roles were decided, agendas were set—and we were ready to play. A few of the women did the illustration, some became the coders, and some took on the creative roles.
School Of Fun is now happy to announce the launch of the game NavWarriors this week. The name NavWarriors was inspired by the Indian festival Navratri, in celebration of feminine power. The game also celebrates the spirit of these girls who have fought their way to a stronger self through their own struggles.
Their stories are now available on the Women For One website; some detail their personal struggles, some are stories of change, and some are stories about powerful ideas. Whatever the case, their stories are about their desire to do their part and make this world a better place. The stories are messy, subtle, empowering, weak, happy, sad, amazing, and empathetic. They are everything that humankind stands for, and the messy brilliance that these young women carry is a sign of their own powerful impact.
Be sure to check out their stories on this site, as well as their game, available on www.schooloffun.org.
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