Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
This morning I walked out of my hotel and headed towards the glistening heart of New York City, Time Square. Upon my arrival at the Marriot Marquis, the first thing that hit me was the bustling atmosphere inside. Students from over 70 countries have come to New York to win this year’s Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals. All the students proudly display their common purpose by wearing a baby blue t-shirt that boldly states “Change the world”.
What does that statement mean to the students? Let’s hear from them:
If it were possible to create a more vibrant atmosphere than Time Square then the finalists have done so inside of the Marriot where the 21 teams left in the final round are presenting their solution to solving some of the world’s toughest problems to a panel of judges for the last time before the winners are announced. Here are just a few examples of today’s presentations:
Team “Give me 4” of France lit up the stage with their Embedded Development concept presentation, LinkTV. LinkTV was designed to therapeutically help elderly people with feelings of isolation and loneliness by providing an easy to use connection to the outside world through technology.
Team Give Me 4 members Edgard Ghislain Mbayen, Franck Achkouyan, Thomas Guillard, and Mouham’mad Chafi Cassim entertain “grandma” with text messages and photos sent straight to her TV screen.
Team Oasys from Jordan were inspired to build their Software design idea, Project Horizon, by a friend of theirs who suffered massive damage in a car accident, leaving her quadriplegic. Project Horizon helps disabled people, who suffer from the inability to hands or limbs, to connect to computer technology and the internet, and digital communication.
Team Oasys consists of Monir Abu Hilal, Mohammad Azzam IV, Hani AbuHuwaij, and Yousef Wadi.
As the Imagine Cup builds to a crescendo, the passion of these students from around the world coupled with their creativity in addressing tough social issues with technology has created a truly unique event, with a unique atmosphere.
Stay tuned to find out who will win in their respective divisions- tomorrow you can watch a live Webcast of the Imagine Cup World Festival & Awards Ceremony featuring special guests Eva Longoria and Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
Good luck to all of the Imagine Cup Finalists!
By Andrea L. Taylor, director of North America community affairs at Microsoft
A unique Community Service Day was held in New York’s Central Park today when nearly 125 Microsoft Imagine Cup finalists from around the world gathered to build and paint bookshelves, signage and planters to benefit local schools and nonprofits.
The Microsoft Imagine Cup is the world’s premier Student Technology Competition, encourages the most talented young software designers and programmers to find solutions for many of the world’s toughest problems such as hunger relief, poverty, education, disease control, healthcare, the environment and other challenges outlined by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
This year over 350,000 students from around the world entered this year’s competition with 400 finalists from 70 countries competing in the world finals which take place in New York city.
Lunch time for all the volunteers in Central Park
The spirit of service and the collective energy of the Imagine Cup finalists and the City Year volunteer leaders was magical and a global community of concerned youth formed instantly. Everyone was fully engaged, displaying boundless energy, a commitment to excellence and a sense of fun. What a privilege to meet, talk and work with these emerging leaders and to see them flourish and begin to take their place as citizens of the world.
Spending time with the competitors and seeing their commitment and interest in giving back you can indeed imagine a better future!
Participants sharing stories at the end of the day
The Microsoft team hard at work!
And finally, some of the great artwork completed by the volunteers:
During a lunch overlooking the Parliament buildings he told me how, in his small town of Taua in northeastern Brazil, a digital program was launched called Programa Cidade Digital, to provide free public web access as Brasilia does not have free Wi-Fi access for its citizens. Along with providing access, a training program to provide digital skills has also been launched and over 12,000 young people have been trained. Now Taua is becoming a technology hub for the region, attracting companies to set up businesses there. They also have the first solar power plant to be built in Brazil.
At the Base of the Pyramid conference which was organized by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to focus on creating economic opportunities for the majority, there was a similar sense of optimism with speaker after speaker sharing how their companies are focused on serving the market at the base of the pyramid by developing new and innovative products to serve the emerging masses. I led a panel on technology that included three leaders in their late twenties who shared their work in using IT and mobile to bring about lasting change in the poor communities they are serving.
Walking into the AVAPE center on the outskirts of Sao Paulo on my first morning was an eye-opening experience. AVAPE serves the disabled community in Brazil, where over 20 million or so people live with some form of disability. In partnership with the Partnership in Opportunities for Employment through Technology in the Americas (POETA) organization, we have supported a program to open a center to provide digital literacy to these young people and provide them with an economic opportunity. The young men and women come early in the morning for training courses, which include life-skills and work skills training. Every single one of them is convinced that with this training they will be ready for the workforce. Many of them are fighting both mental and physical challenges, however their sense of optimism is inspiring. AVAPE has a very structured program with a deep partnership with both the government and the business community to ensure they have a pipeline for youth to get into the workforce.
In Brasilia I had the privilege to meet with the Secretary of Science and Technology for the Federal District of Brasilia, the Secretary of Digital Inclusion (Ministry of Communication), and the Secretary of Poverty Eradication (Ministry of Social Development). Each of them shared with me their programs focused on youth and digital inclusion as a central part of their efforts. These programs are supported by government funding but the private sector, NGOs and the local community are all involved showing a level of commitment never seen before.
After my lunch with Deputy Neto, we drove out to Sao Sebastiao, a small community outside of Brasilia, to visit a telecentre established by ATN with whom we have a national partnership. Mara, a 40 year old woman, took me into her tailoring shop and shared with me that as part of the government program to support local economic development they have a seamstress program and that they were stitching clothes for the community to purchase. Partitioned by a wall divider was the computer center which she also runs with about six computers which were all occupied. An eight year old had headphones on and was busy reading on the screen. I asked him what he was doing there. He was learning how to use the computer. He is in third grade and wants to learn. His mother was on the computer beside him and she was also learning. They both believed that digital proficiency was critical to their success. What was very impressive was that the town and the local community center were all part of this effort to ensure digital literacy was available. I spoke to over 30 youths who showed up as part of our visit and they were full of optimism.
We next made the trip to Itaboraí, a small town about an hour away from Rio. There we visited a school where Instituto Empreender has a program in partnership with the Ministry of Labor, USAID and Grupo + Unidos, a private sector consortium to train the youth with digital, life and workforce skills to help them get a job. In a computer room there about 20 young people ranging in ages from 16-25. They are also taught English, so I asked them to speak in English with me. All of them were shy except for one young lady who spoke with me and shared her story and her aspirations. Inspired by her openness, I asked the others to have courage and talk with me in English; eventually we went around the room and got everyone to share their stories, dance, sing and play the drums. They also got me to speak a bit in Portuguese – the important message that they each imparted was how much they believed in their future and yes it was going to be tough but now they had an opportunity. The local secretary of education and the school principal each showed that they cared and the community was behind them. One of ladies told us how she had overcome personal adversity because her teachers and the community believed in her and helped her stay the course. As a company we are fortunate that we can, through our programs and support, contribute in a small yet meaningful ways to this ongoing transformation.
Charbel Zaib who is sub secretary at the department of Labor for the State of Rio de Janeiro told me about the excitement ahead of the Soccer World Cup and the Olympics in Rio. He spoke to us about how their priority is to train youth to serve the city during these two major events and create economic opportunities for them. A partnership with Microsoft will allow them to provide digital training as part of the Olympic Citizenship program that they have created for the city.
The six days could not have been more intense and I kept wondering what was so unique about Brazil at this particular point in time. The answer may be the fact that now we are seeing an amazing amount of coordination between Federal and State government programs, NGOs and development community investment, and finally the private sector working with them. The magic of Brazil is that there is no conflict between economic growth and lifting people out of poverty. Clearly there are many challenges facing the country but I saw a clear sense of priority and investment in youth as the driver. Youth are leading the change.
Our mission is to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their
Explore the positive impact of local programs promoted and supported by Microsoft
around the world.
News, perspectives and analysis on legal and policy issues.
© 2013 Microsoft
Privacy Statement |
Connect With Us