a cultural exchange

Melanie Archer writes that “the point of the Rails for Women workshop is to make a cultural exchange”

It’s like going to a country where you don’t speak the language. You prepare by learning basic phrases which will help you ask directions to the train station, order food from a restaurant menu, and be polite in that country’s etiquette. You don’t start with the pluperfect tense, historical study of that language’s divergence into regional dialects, or intensive scrutiny of the country’s avant-garde poets. Your goal is to enjoy your trip to that country, and, if you do, you might return and gain more facility in its language.

The stated goal of the Rails for Women workshop to increase gender diversity in the Ruby community by helping women learn Rails. By the end of the workshop, however, what’s happened is a lot more positive and enduring than fifty or sixty people inspecting http://localhost:3000 on their laptops.

Instead, there’s an exciting, contagious mood of self-confidence in the participants and volunteers.

She also makes the point that the cultural exchange isn’t just one way.  The workshops benefit the volunteers individually and Rails as a whole.  I have found it to be true personally — each time I volunteer at a workshop, I learn some important detail about Rails or Ruby that I didn’t know before.  First time volunteers usually tell me that they learned a lot.  Volunteers are also, slowly, making Rails more accessible to newcomers, inspired to solve frustrations of workshop participants.

Melanie has volunteered at many workshops and led the May SF Workshop. Read the whole original post on her blog.

a cultural exchange