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Open Source Educator (Part Four: Grassroots) March 2, 2011

<mchua> But the community stuff was always where my heart was.

<mchua> I love working with open source communities because they’re where the passion is – these are people who are in a project for the love of it, for the most part – not because they’re being forced to do it for a living; it’s wonderful to work with people who love what they do and really believe in it.

<polyachka> and how long did you work for OLPC?

<mchua> … complicated question. 🙂 As a full-timer, just under 4 months. Combined full-timer and intern, maybe… 8-9 months? It wasn’t continuous.

<polyachka> and after that?

<mchua> I think I still hold the record for “person who’s held the most number of official titles at OLPC.” I was a content intern, then a grassroots intern, then a QA/Support engineer…(but I also worked other places in-between my OLPC internships – I wanted to see more of the world.)

<polyachka> did you go to Red Hast right after?

<mchua> My next job after OLPC was Red Hat, yes.

<polyachka> what is grassroots intern?

<mchua> Grassroots was community-building, basically. Encouraging groups in different areas of the world to start their own little OLPC projects. You’re a student? Great, start a campus club and get some classmates to help you repair broken XO’s, that sort of thing.

<polyachka> was it hard?

<mchua> Oh, it was hard work – but again, easiest thing in the world to get people who want to do work, to do work.

<mchua> Getting things out of their way so they could do that work – that’s challenging sometimes, but everyone’s always so excited that it always feels worthwhile.

<polyachka> in what cities/countries did you do it?

<mchua> For OLPC… let’s see. A lot more happened remotely than I was able to travel to in person – I did almost all of it online.

<mchua> But physically, within the US… Bellingham and Seattle, WA – Aurora and Chicago, IL (where myself and a number of other students started up an actual office downtown – that was an adventure)

<mchua> was the Chicago office, and if you imagine a bunch of 13-22 year old kids getting together an office on their own, running community events from it, and such – that’s what we did all summer.

<mchua> Washington DC, New York, Rochester, and of course Boston. Taipei, Manila… I really didn’t go to places specifically to do Sugar/OLPC stuff, I just did stuff wherever I happened to be.

<mchua> ILXO was fun; that was myself and Nikki Lee, Andrea Lai, Chris Carrick, Melanie Kim, and Mia Kato. It was a real learning experience. For us and for the local community.

<polyachka> what was it?

<mchua> That was the Chicago grassroots office.

<mchua> Well, there were all these teachers and parents who were interested – all these adults who wanted to learn about OLPC and Sugar and the XO …and we’d show up, and – for instance, once we were asked to do a workshop at a library, and Mia and Melanie volunteered to do that. So I dropped them off at the library, and they walked into the middle of this room of parents, and they started presenting.

<mchua> “Wait, how old are you?”

<mchua> “I’m 13, she’s 12.”

<mchua> It was a big role reversal for most of us, since we were used to being students taught by adults like that.

<polyachka> so right now your connection to OLPC/Sugar is projects that you get professors involved into, right?

<mchua> And yes, right now my main contribution to these projects is getting professors and their students involved in them.


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