Day 26. Education, Computers, and Power.

By Yanina Bellini Saibene in Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30

May 31, 2024

Yani at 15 dressed in red and tie with her students at the computer school where she used to teach.

Yani at 15 dressed in red and tie with her students at the computer school where she used to teach.

I have reflected on why I am passionate about teaching and why education is so important to me. It is intimately linked to my personal history…

I was born in Juan José Paso, a small town in rural Argentina. When I was six, my elementary school bought the only computer in the entire town. The principal gave a lesson about computers, and the moment I saw it, it was love at first sight. The school held an exam, and the student with the highest score would have one computer class and two craft classes (sewing and knitting for girls) instead of the usual three. I was one of those students.

A few years later, we moved to another town after a flood devastated our home. This new place was close to a city where I could study programming. From ages 9 to 14, my parents drove 80 kilometers every Saturday to take me to class. We didn’t have a car, and there was no public transport in the rural area, but since my dad is a mechanic, his clients would lend him their cars for the trip.

At 15, I started my first job teaching informatics. Since then, I have never stopped teaching and learning about coding. I taught children, teenagers, and adults. I have trained teachers in computing skills and to use the computer to teach since 1997. My high school science fair project, “The Computer at the School,” proposed exercises for different subjects using computers and encouraged collaboration between informatics courses and other subject teachers.

When I finished high school, everyone told my parents what they already knew: that I had to continue studying. However, we didn’t have enough money to send me to university, so my parents moved the entire family to a city with a public and free university. I worked teaching for one of the science fair jurors, and I put my science fair project into practice, teaching computing jointly with other courses. At that time, I met a mentor and boss at the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA), where I worked as a research software engineer for 24 years. At INTA, I won two scholarships to complete my degree in computer science and my master’s degree in data mining, becoming a scientist.

Today, I teach in formal institutions like universities from different countries and communities of practice, such as R-Ladies. I also co-founded spaces like LatinR and designed and ran projects like the rOpenSci Champions Program, where people can share their knowledge and help each other improve in the open-source, software, science, and education- movements.

I teach because education can change lives—it changed mine.

I teach to give back.

I teach because learning is acquiring power, a power that, once received, no one can take from you. When we teach and share our knowledge in a reusable and accessible way, we deliver power.

I teach to share my knowledge, my power.

I invite you to do the same with yours. Perhaps a child in a small town, with access to a computer at their school, library, or home, will find one of our lessons, and a door to new knowledge will open—a knowledge that changes their life positively… and perhaps ours too.

Thank you very much for reading.

Posted on:
May 31, 2024
3 minute read, 565 words
Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30
Education Community 100DaysToOffload 30Ship30
See Also:
Proyecto 2 - Las Estrellas del Universo R
Project 2 - The Stars of R-Universe
Project 1 - rOpenSci's Code of Conduct and Code of Conduct Committee