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.