In March 2018, eight VMware Bulgaria people embarked upon a unique leadership development opportunity to apply their skills and talents for social impact with a cross-functional team of VMware colleagues and a local nonprofit. Through the VMware Foundation’s Service Learning Accelerator, this team embraced VMware’s EPIC2 Community value in support of the local nonprofit, CoderDojo Bulgaria.
The team started with a Discovery Assessment of CoderDojo Bulgaria’s needs, working closely with the organization’s staff to better understand their environment. CoderDojo has built a global network of free, volunteer-led, and community-based programming clubs for young people. Anyone aged seven to seventeen can visit a Dojo, where they can learn to code, build a website, create an app or game, and explore technology in an informal, creative, and social environment. Through regular meetings, the VMware team and CoderDojo Bulgaria staff determined which new curriculum would best fit the nonprofit’s needs and began developing new materials for Dojo facilitators to use throughout the country.
For one week in April 2018, the VMware team left their “day jobs” and families to immerse themselves in this Service Learning experience. They hosted Micro:bit and MIT App Inventor workshops with local Sofia youth, and they worked with 43 CoderDojo mentors from around Bulgaria in a “train the trainer” manner so the mentors could bring this new curriculum back to their respective Dojos.
As team member Vasil Chomakov, Sr MTS explained, “We learned so much about each other as well as about ourselves during this week. Most of us didn’t think we would be able to deliver the scope and quality of work at the beginning of the program, but we exceeded the founders of CoderDojo Bulgaria and our own expectations. We were all surprised to see how efficient you could deliver a project when a diverse team with different professional backgrounds share one motivation – to inspire and expose the kids in Bulgaria with fun technology activities. We demonstrated the African proverb, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’”
As the team returned to their VMware roles, they brought new perspectives, new experiences, and new ideas with them. As team member Alex Nenkov, MTS, shared, the “immersive portion…is coming to a close, but the journey to inspire the teachers and youth in Bulgaria, the rest of the European Union, and hopefully the world, has just started.”