Well…the bags are packed, the tickets are printed, and I enter the last hour of training for what I hope will be a rewarding 2 months in Bangalore. A week ago, if you asked me how I felt about being on the iSTEP team, I would have told you that I am feeling quite excited and also very unprepared. I think the last few days have gone a long way in fixing that. Training was relentless, demanding, but ultimately rewarding. It wouldn’t be entirely incorrect to term it as ICTD hazing in some form for a young naive intern like myself.
A little bit about me might be appropriate at this point I suppose. My name’s Vivek Nair (“viv” as in “give”, “ek” as in “take” – a mnemonic that is yet to fail me). I am a rising Electrical and Computer Engineering junior from CMU Pittsburgh (something worth clarifying since not everyone on the iSTEP 2013 team is from Pittsburgh). I’m from New Delhi, India, currently in a tortuous relationship with Pittsburgh (the tortuous elements of which I can blame squarely on the weather). When I’m not busy with coursework, I busy myself with Buggy at CMU, student government and my campus job as a Resident Assistant. My interests include running, biking, cooking and archiving GIFs (ask any of my friends, I have an impressive collection).
As I sit in GHC 6501 with my 7 fellow interns (6 physically present, 1 virtually so), I can’t help but wonder a bit about what brought this eclectic array of students from different disciplines together. Or to be more specific, I wonder a bit about what series of events and personal choices brought me to this moment. Of course, I could take you through the whole voyage of self-discovery and all that jazz, but I feel that’s a bit too intense for a first blog post (may or may not save that for later).
The answer’s really very simple – I want to use the privilege of my education at an institution such as CMU to give back to the world – specifically those who may not have had the same opportunities as I have been fortunate enough to have so far. For the longest time, I kept looking for a meaningful way to actualize this yearning. Then I conveniently ran across an email from my department about the iSTEP internship. I’m quite certain my eyes grew progressively wider as I read through the details on that email. Basically it was everything I was looking for.
And a couple of applications, interviews, prep sessions and a week of training later, here I am. Between sessions or marketing, worst-case scenarios, media prep sessions, getting to know Mathru School for the Blind, our partner and so much more, I’ve found the time to get nice and cozy with the code I’m going to be editing and curating over the next 9 weeks. In the midst of the coding and testing frenzies that will be inevitable over the course of this internship, I really hope that I don’t lose sight of the big picture – developing technology with a global heart.