The first day of the AdaCamp in Bangalore went off to a fantastic start.

After a thorough introduction to the event, there was a session on the “Impostor Syndrome” which was really interesting. In short, the session looked at how women often doubt their own abilities, skills and achievements. Many successful women suffer from inward feelings of not being good enough, smart enough or deserving of success. It is the inner voice that is your own worst enemy and I am sure most of us have heard its cruel criticisms. Firstly there was a presentation that explored the syndrome followed by a number of group exercises which encouraged a rich discussion about how to learn to take a complement and also how to build confidence and self-esteem. In small groups we were asked to write out complements (to ourselves or others) and then place then in the middle of the discussion circle. Complements ranged far and wide from “You are intelligent” to “You are kind” to “You are a great listener”. At the end of the discussion everyone was asked to take a Post It note with a complement they were willing to wear on their name badge for the duration of AdaCamp. I chose “People feeling comfortable talking to you”. I found this session very thought-provoking as I have done a lot of reading about self-healing and mindfulness recently. My takeout was that not only women suffer from this syndrome. I know a number of highly intelligent and skilled men who have significant achievements early in their careers, then facing strong feelings of self-doubt when they reach mid and late career life. In any case, this session was very valuable in terms of building a positive self-image.

The “unconference” model was then introduced to the group and we initiated and decided on a number of introductory sessions. The session I elected to go to was on Wikipedia and I found it was a very constructive discussion which covered how to create and edit articles as well as some broader information about specific communities including some of the diverse language communities.

After a delicious lunch we had a series of 90 second “lightning talks”, where I nominated to talk about some of my augmented reality (AR) creative works.

Then we all got the chance to nominate any topics for the remainder of the sessions, either expressing an interest as a participant or as a facilitator or discussion leader. I nominated an interest in a discussion about AR, which will be a session on Sunday. There were many interesting topics suggestion from Internet security to hacking skills to Arduino workshops, Mozilla, Webcraft, gender equity and more.

The rest of the afternoon I went to two other sessions: Internet Security and Feminism and Technology. Both sessions were very interesting for different reasons. The first session focused on some of the language and concepts used in Internet Security, admittedly a field I am not overly familiar with – which made it quite a big learning curve.

The second session focused on community projects and programs that support and encourage young women by providing them with skills and training in technology, information to make informed choices and safe place to talk about some of the questions they have and issues they face. I found this session very inspiring, hearing about some of the amazing projects that are empowering young women to be more confident in their communities, while they are also learning practical skills that provide pathways to education and employment. Some the social changes that have happened as a result of these projects are amazing and I hope to blog later about one program in particular that was discussed in detail.

All and all a really fabulous and productive day; spent meeting some amazing women, learning lots which is sparking some ideas for some future projects.

For further information check out the Ada Initiative and #adacamp on Twitter.

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