Building social change through technology
Confused. Aware. Determined. Those were the three stages we felt a few months ago, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. We knew it back then and we feel it right now - the change. The world around us evolves and the technology is here to help. It is - literally - our future. Development, growth, evolution - the world changed and we need to embrace it. But how can we build lasting social change through technology?
In our previous episode “Social & Tech” we invited Radu Ticiu, a tech entrepreneur and education promoter in Romania. Radu is a wizard of successful mobilisation, deeply passionate about creating opportunity structures for young people to pursue their dreams, by nurturing collaborative and inclusive networks in driving innovation and sustainable change. Radu is a CoderDojo champion and a community builder in Timișoara. He is a great example of how we can get things done in these trying times and beyond.
In our “Making ideas happen in Social & Tech” we disclosed his recipe for community building, long lasting changes through technology and his ability to generate positive social impact. We have listened to Radu’s stories of what mental, social and institutional frameworks make the combination of social and tech a successful one.
Radu is involved in many interesting things and he is an inspiration for many people who want to get involved in the area of using tech for social good. He said that in another era he started the Electronics University studies but chose to quit after the revolution. Afterwards, he chose to study what some would consider the opposite of electronics - medicine. “The bad thing is that I ended up not practicing medical activities despite discovering that it’s a fantastic profession.” He is not a programmer, even though he is active in a number of initiatives related to programming education.
Another important thing that happened to him at the beginning of the 90s was his connection with the youth organization world. Radu entered an international youth organization based in Germany. It exposed him to a very different way of looking at the world and as he claims “to a different way to accept diversity in our society, to interact with people from whenever you can imagine but overall to try to generate activism within the youth groups, within local communities.” Working in these organizations also brought him closer to project management and knowledge about accessing grants for implementing one’s ideas.
He was fortunate to be exposed to dealing with various types of approaches of doing things and his involvement in a number of organizations brought him to a position to interact with people from various types of geographies. One important lesson he has learnt from his projects is that you always have within your beneficiaries the future implementers.
Radu Ticiu (source: PressAlert)
In the episode, we walk down memory lane and talk about Timișoara Startup Hub, BanatIT, Women in Tech Timisoara - initiatives that Radu Ticiu started or co-founded. He is a resource of stories and ideas and believes that we should “Be open towards change. Be open towards challenges. Try to work with others and invent things.”
In the Social & Tech episode we showcased the local-level mobilization in Romania during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been awe inspiring. The recent study mentioned in the episode estimates that around half of Romanians donated to different causes during the pandemic. 46% reported they donated directly to hospitals and medical centers, while 36% reported to have donated to different causes fighting against the pandemic, with an average of a little over 50 euros per person, and an average of three donations per Romanian respondent. The pandemic generated an unprecedented social mobilization of aid at local levels across the globe. If you ever wondered how you can contribute, connect and learn to act - here’s our little Extra Goodies section.
Radu Ticiu is a CoderDojo champion and founder. The CoderDojo initiative started in 2012 in Timișoara. When he read about some guys in Ireland that started the free to attend volunteer run club of programming education for kids in the pre-university age brackets. At that moment he thought that it sounded great. It took about one and a half years until Radu and the other doers started their own implementation. He knew that such an enterprise cannot be a one-man show and the idea is to build the initial core group to start it. The CoderDojo Timișoara founders are Cornel Punga, Anca Mitroi, Radu Ticiu and Vlad Isac.
It was the first Timișoara implementation of the Irish-led global movement of coding clubs for kids. CoderDojo is a global collaboration providing free and open learning to young people, especially in programming technology.
CoderDojo Timișoara started with 4 or 5 mentors and about 20 kids. After the first edition they decided to meet the next to repeat and improve the experience. He says that its evolution was a continuous experiment. In the dojo they are trying to empower children to take over more complex roles. The kids are starting as ninjas - people with zero knowledge and experience - but with a will and motivation to progress and learn. The local dojo exceeded one thousand participants. Radu believes that the participants understand the value such a project brings to them and they want to contribute in various ways, mostly by giving back.
Their invitation is “bring your kids to learn to code, hack, develop websites, apps, games and more or come yourself to mentor.” You can register by clicking here. If you are not from Timișoara (Romania) you can still find a dojo for your children by accessing the CoderDojo’s website.
A similar project is BioCoderDojo Timișoara - an non-formal education approach focusing on bioinformatics, synthetic biology, e-Health, addressing passionate high-school students. BioCoderDojo is a project initiated and supported by CoderDojo Timișoara. In any of these projects the children can learn project management skills, leadership and how to be team players.
Radu co-founded EducaTM - a project trying to revive old equipment and distribute it to children from marginalized families. EducaTM is an initiative that activates the community, both individuals and organizations, to donate their unused-used equipment to its center of operations. Their volunteers collect the equipment, verify, test, clean, repair and (if need be) build it, so it can then be transferred to communities that need it. The initiative is led under the Timișoara One Source Association's umbrella. You can learn more about this by visiting their page.
Our lovely #Inspiration series coordinator, Erika Iszlai, interviewed Sofia Băcanu, a young lady who is part of the CoderDojo’s ninjas and EducaTM project. In the interview you can read what drew her to these projects and her thoughts on the importance of volunteering. Where you can find her story - “Sofia, synonym with courage and ambition”.
During the early days of the pandemic, Radu along with other doers have been supporting the efforts of developing medical equipment through VentilaTM - Timișoara’s attempt to solve the problem of shortage of mechanical ventilators.
Right now they are cooking more initiatives. They started a new collaboration with Meet IT, a spectacular international students organization, offering educational contexts to kids interesting in STEM education. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. Their mission - Meet IT is a worldwide family of people who help and motivate each other. We believe that we can change the world if we take action and keep developing ourselves together! Radu is encouraging parents and younger people in Timișoara to join this online program implemented by Meet IT, a pan-European platform promoting programming and mathematics education for people younger than 21.
The dialogue with Radu Ticiu is meant to inspire all of us. By sharing his own experience of building lasting social change through technology use, we hope he is going to encourage others in taking the first steps towards engagement for the common good.