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[Outreachy reports] · · 3 min read

Outreachy report #51: November 2023

This month, most of our time and efforts went to reviewing intern selections, solving selection conflicts, developing new strategies to manage difficult decisions in a short timeframe, submitting proposals to FOSDEM 2024, and planning activities for the next 4 months. As the majority of my tasks this month were confidential in nature, I’d like to talk about two interconnected aspects of our program: connections and promotion of the program.

We had a particularly challenging time defining the amount of interns we could select this cohort due to the expiration of grants. That expiration, in particular, affects open science projects the hardest — projects we’ve been extremely proud to fund in the last cohorts. As we discussed strategies to find more grants and sponsors, one thing became clear: as a team, we need to go back to giving talks that cover the fundamental aspects of our program. We need to engage with new audiences, and we need more mentoring organizations and mentors to keep the program growing sustainably.

By coincidence, I started connecting more and more with the open source community in Angola. António Pedro, one of the leaders of Angola Open Source Community, invited me to talk about the program on their podcast, The Open Source Café. This marks the first time I engaged with a foreign community in my native language, and both António and I had a blast in our almost 2 hour conversation. Besides introducing the program to potential applicants, António told me that maintainers of lusophone open source projects have been asking about how to join the program as mentoring organizations. Additionally, folks in Mozambique are interested in hosting similar livrestreams for their own communities, so it looks like this won’t be my last appearance in events organized by lusophone African communities!

The next day I had a talk scheduled at DevFest Cerrado, one of the largest technology conferences in my state.

Me, a white femme person with a shaved head, talking about Outreachy in front of a projected image of my slides. It shows me, Sage Sharp, and Karen Sandler together at FOSSY 2023 and Omotola Omotayo and Tilda Udufo together at OSCAFest 2023.

I gave that talk about systems theory and technology, but this time I used one of Outreachy’s statements as the conversation starter:

Outreachy provides internships to people subject to systemic bias and impacted by underrepresentation in the technical industry where they are living.

I decided to do so as that seems to be one of the things that causes the most confusion when potential applicants are reading our mission statement on our website. That seems to be linked to very little exposure to the concept of systems theory as a whole. As accessibility on GNOME started improving again (!), I’m considering transforming this talk into a talk that’s completely about Outreachy and the use of systems approach to design of diversity, equity, and inclusion mentorship programs.

It was during this conference that I could feel that extreme need to give more talks that covers the basics of the program — sometimes, it felt like what I was saying was too foreign, in a sense?, to the audience I had there. It felt like we weren’t in the same page, that we needed to have more basic conversations before uncovering more profound discussions. In a way, I feel the need to re-introduce myself to my local community. We grew apart for so long we felt like strangers to each other. I need to restore that connection we once had blooming almost 5 years ago. And maybe that’s exactly what Outreachy as a whole needs to do once more.