In an increasingly globalized world, intercultural competency skills are more essential than ever. TechGirls, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State administered by Legacy International, aims to develop these skills as it equips and empowers girls to pursue careers in science and technology. Through Story Circles, an intercultural methodology from UNESCO (See article in this newsletter), TechGirls participants learn to engage individuals from different cultures and backgrounds to share their stories and their voices.
TechGirls is an international summer exchange for girls ages 15-17 from 12 countries across Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa and the US. The program contains a supercharged technology bootcamp that provides participants with in-depth training of technology-related topics, including coding and cyber security at Virginia Tech University. TechGirls also holds site visits to top companies such as NASA, leadership clinics, community service, job shadowing and cultural events. To instill the program’s sustainability, TechGirls implement peer trainings or service projects in their home countries.
As a part of the leadership training, the evening programming focuses on community building. One evening the cohort ventured to Virginia Tech’s quad/drillfield as the sun was setting after a long day of coding, sat in several circles and began to share their stories. Girls from across North Africa were able to listen and share their truth to their Central Asian peers and Middle Eastern counterparts along with US ambassadors. Girls demonstrated care and respect for each other as they deepened their relationships. This activity provided a structured and pivotal moment of group development for the cohort.
The TechGirls program was proud to utilize Story Circles and looks forward to utilizing more intercultural competency activities. The 2020 TechGirls application is due January 15, 2020. Girls from the US, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgzystan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Tajikistan, Tunisia and Uzbekistan are encouraged to apply!
2019 TechGirls exchanging stories and dialogue during their orientation to the United States and the program.
This article was originally published in the January 2020 Issue of the Intercultural Connector newsletter. Subscribe to the newsletter to receive updates from the WCIGC and to find articles, enhancements, and more from our contributing members.