Magic of the Workshops

Last week I had an incredible opportunity to visit Tanzania and see CodeBus Africa in action. I have heard so many inspiring stories of how much the students learn during the one-day workshops and how excited they are after producing their first songs, so naturally I was thrilled to see how the concept actually works.

The morning of the first workshop in Dar es Salaam was full of hassle. It was a new country and the first workshop for most of the instructors. On top of that, half of the students were missing. When they finally arrived to Buni Hub, we found out that most of them did not understand English very well and just a few had used a computer before. It was not a totally new situation during the CodeBus journey, but it definitely posed a stern challenge for the instructors.

You could see a mixture of excitement and puzzlement in the kids’ eyes, when they first sat in front of the laptop and looked at the screen and keyboard.

Then the magic started. Irena, with the help of Buni Hub’s Events and Corporate Partnerships Manager, Mariam, who acted as a translator, asked the kids if they had ever used a mobile phone before. Everybody raised their hands, so she continued by explaining that mobile phones are actually mini-computers – that they both work just the same. Irena told them that today they would be making new ringtones for their phones. The analogies make computers and the idea of creating a song of one’s own much more approachable.

Georgia, one of our local instructors, then took a keyboard in her hands and asked the kids if they knew what it was called and why. She continued by asking why they think a laptop is called a laptop. With the help of a white board, she then went through the basics of using a mouse and the important buttons in the keyboard including the arrows, space, backspace, shift and semicolon. This part included a spontaneous dance from Irena, titled “Shift-colon”. It is pretty easy to imagine the always lively Irena throwing her hands in the air and and singing shhhift, colon, shift

As I found out during the rest of the week, rhythm, dancing and games are an extremely important part of the Codebus concept. They are used for setting the mood right in the morning, before the actual workshop begins. They are used to help the children understand and remember important parts of workshops, and most importantly, they are a key component of the after party, where everybody jams to the freshly made tunes.

After a little over an hour, the children had learned the basics of using a computer and were ready to continue to learn coding with Sonic Pi. I was left with my jaw dropped and marvelled at how incredibly well the instructors handled the challenging situation.

As Irena later said to the kids: “You all are geniuses. If I learned as fast as you do, I would probably be an astronaut or a president.” I definitely agree with Irena, and to add to her words, I have to say that the instructors are also doing a genius job.

– Roope
Designer for Aalto Global Impact and CodeBus Africa