Guest post: Patricia Kasapa - The Journey So Far

Patricia Kasapa

Walking down the stairs with a beaming smile on my face, lots of questions raced in my head, as well: Questions that only I had the answers to, yet, nothing that came to mind seemed to be the best fit. I had just submitted my final project work documentation which my supervisor had already signed in my presence to show acceptance. Now, it was really over: my first degree was finally officially over; all the hustle had ended; the late-night wax burning had paid off – the apparent reason for the broad smile.

Am I ready to step out of those four walls; is the world ready to receive me; do I have enough confidence to face an interview panel for a job; should I continue with my master’s immediately; which scholarships can I apply for; how long will it take for my family to start asking for a spouse; who could that be? To sum them all up: after school, what next? The billion-dollar question stared me right in the face and I really had no idea what the answer could be.

The smile was genuine, though: to think of the fact that “UCC pressure” was finally off my shoulders, I couldn’t be happier. Jumping up and down, I came across a golden opportunity on the notice board. You know, when gold is hidden in dirt, it is quite disguised. I saw it and didn’t even realize that it was golden. After reading what it was about, I took another step towards my home, with no intention of showing any interest in it but a voice came from behind, “aren’t you going to even give it a try?”.

When I turned, I saw one of our teaching assistants for that year standing behind me. My reply was, “but I am no longer a student”. “So?” he replied. “So, these things are for students and I’m not eligible” I said with my face down. He looked at me, smiled again and asked, “What will it take from you if you applied and are not picked?” I couldn’t answer because surely, that was rhetorical.

He continued “What, at all, are you rushing home to go and do? This is an opportunity of a lifetime. At least, try it, if it doesn’t work, you know that you did try”.

Those words hit me so hard that I couldn’t even rescue my mind anymore. I took out my phone typed the url into my browser and began the application process. Later that day, I met a few of my colleagues, gladly introduced the opportunity to them and all I got from them were, “So aren’t you tired of learning?”, “Sister, go home and get some rest”, “You are no longer a student, madam. Let the students have it”. I almost did not complete the application because I knew they were right and I wished I could just abandon it and walk away too but something in me just kept pushing the agenda like a due baby waiting to be born.

Patricia Kasapa

In less than a week, after I had completed the application, the Global Code Summer Camp’18 team sent me an email to congratulate me for having been selected as one of the few students who successfully made it to the class. It was a mixed feeling I had: unhappy because I had to sit in a class to study again; joyous because if what I read from the notice was entirely true, then I was in to gain lots of experience on my hands which will give me a better advantage in the job market.

Soon, July was due and the camp was to begin. I entered the class with no sense of belongingness: Seriously! None of my colleagues applied; or should I rather say, none was present: as to whether they applied and were not picked or they didn’t apply, at all, I had no idea. My target was simply clear: Make this count. I could have been home enjoying some homemade dishes with my family; I could have been in my room enjoying the latest series; I could have been out there scouting for job opportunities; I could even be looking for my future spouse but here I was, in the midst of my “junior colleagues” exploring life from this angle. I was ready to put in my all to make it count.

The beginning was not so difficult for me because if there was nothing to thank my school for, not for the introduction to several programming languages including python which happened to be the rock on which everything we learnt was built. It more challenging during the ending of the first week but I was determined to make something out of it. I sat at the very first seat in the class and my instructors suffered their bits: there was no question I didn’t ask; there was nothing I didn’t try my hands on; there was no lab I missed and in all those, my instructors were always there to assist me. I worried my instructors so much that I’m sure they still can’t forget my existence wherever they are now.

On one of the days within the second week, I had just returned from break with some of the other students that I was finally getting acquainted to when one of our instructors mentioned my name out loud, alongside some of the other guys. He then asked us to meet Sam outside. For the start, I thought we were the ones disturbing them most so they had invited Sam, the overall boss, to come warn us or something. Well, I wasn’t too far from the truth, though: we were the ones disturbing them the most but they loved it. Sam had come to offer us a bigger opportunity because they had seen real potentials in us: the determination to study; the willingness to try something new; the energy with which we participated in the class activities intrigued them and they wanted to start a life with us.

They called us the “Lamplighters”.

They went on to assign us to mentors, individually and organized monthly calls through which expects from other fields of IT were given the chance to share what they do with us and how they do it. In short, they dedicated more resources into training us exceptionally at no cost, at all. They did their best to get us tickets to attend other IT events, network with others and gain more social experience.

To top it all, they dedicated all the Saturdays in July to train us as instructors for the Global Code Summer Camp’19. Now, about the camp, it was the toughest of all but they believed in us and still put us on the field with so much confidence. I joined my team during the second week when the advanced part of the camp had begun. Frankly speaking, the first day I attended the class, I couldn’t wait for us to close because despite all the training we had, I felt like I couldn’t meet the criteria of an instructor. This was because I happened to be in the midst of very experienced and seriously mind-blowing programmers as co-instructors.

It was tough but they made me feel like I really did belong. They taught me to teach and treated me like a colleague: we had lots of fun together to the extent that I sincerely didn’t want it to end. It was quite an experience.

Patricia Kasapa

And then, within a few minutes, my billion-dollar question had been answered: they wanted to start a software development company in Ghana with us. We were the chosen foundation on which “turntabl” was going to be built. Though it was an outstanding opportunity that they knew everyone offered that will just jump to grasp it immediately, they still gave us time to think about it, explore other options and choose turntabl because we want to. That showed us how open and thoughtful they are.

Being a lamplighter is one of the miracles I have seen manifest so clearly in my life. It has been an experience of a lifetime and I can’t wait for turntabl to be fully operational because from the little I’ve seen; it’s going to be a wonderful experience.

I am and always will be a proud Lamplighter.