My Experience at Riyada’s Youth Innovation Summer Program (by Alaa El Kholy)
Coding has always been a very vague topic for me, I have attended workshops before but never really excelled in it even though I was always impressed and fascinated by it, until I joined the Riyada Youth Innovation Summer Program.
When I was contacted and told about the workshops they were having at Riyada, I got excited but didn’t really know what was in store until the first day: we were told that by the end of the program, we’d have built 7 mobile applications to solve the waste problem in Lebanon. We were put into groups and my group consisted of 3 other bright youth: Tima, Sarjoun and Samir. The four of us worked so well together, and decided to think a bit outside the box and try to tackle the solution from a different perspective: children. We created “Zee”, a quiz application that helps kids understand that waste can be recycled, what types of waste should be recycled and that we already have many NGOs in Lebanon, which are already working on recycling but are not very known because of the various points of views that start with “you are not in a European country” or as we say “منك ببلد اوروبي”. We wanted to prove to people that we can take advantage of technology and game development in order to help figure out a way to alleviate an ongoing social and economic crisis in Lebanon while spreading awareness to children and help making Lebanon a better place to live and build a future in for generations to come. At the end of the workshop our team and application Zee, has earned first place in the summer innovation program and was featured on the evening news on a leading Lebanese TV channel. I would love to thank Dr. Mona Itani and the Riyada team for their passion towards making Lebanon a better and brighter place. I am thankful to be a Riyada alumna because we now see the potential our country has, I would love to thank the trainers for their hard work and of course all the other teams and participants in this program who all contributed to an amazing atmosphere.
I hope to always see people our age working and believing in the Lebanon we live in, and the true blessing it is, and to see organizations support ideas and innovation to help turn dreams into reality.