Hiya, World!

Hiya, World!

Greetings from Kenya.

I am Sharon Koech from Kenya, thrilled to be among the lucky interns recently selected for the May to August 2022 cohort of the Outreachy program. During this period, I shall be contributing to Neutron, which is the networking project for OpenStack. My project entails adding the possibility for the cascade deletion of networks. This requires extending the DELETE API command to include an argument or parameter that would enable the cascade deletion of all the corresponding ports and subports upon the deletion of a network. At the moment, a user needs to make several API calls to the Neutron server in order to list and delete these resources, i.e. the ports and subports belonging to a given network, before deleting the actual network. But, more on that another time.

Throughout my life, during my application to this program and up to this point, I have valued and striven to uphold my authenticity. Most of time, I have succeeded, and all of the time, it has been worth it. There are a lot of different views, ideologies, values and personalities held by a lot of different people. Sometimes, I have felt completely out of place or in disagreement with something or someone. Sometimes, I have felt right at home. And then, of course, there is peer pressure. But if you know what is important to you; who you are and what you value to your very core, this acts as an anchor or point of reference so that no matter how far you stray from yourself, you can always feel it (and you really will), and know how to go back home. From all this, I have learnt the value of knowing myself and what I value and stand for so as not to be negatively influenced or manipulated, being respectful of opinions different from my own, disagreeing without being dismissive, fighting for what I genuinely believe in, and not being afraid to be different, for it is the very spice of life.

Along with curiosity, without which, we cannot learn. And if we can't learn, how can we be better? I like to know why. I am often more interested in the motivations for my and other people's actions; I like to know how things work and why things are the way they are; I thrive by first principles thinking and swear by the Feynman Learning Technique. I admit that the application of these techniques may sometimes feel stupid and are damn time-consuming, but in the long-run, I find them to be effective and highly instrumental in forming a foundation for true knowledge and understanding. I believe in the power of enquiry. Just simply asking. You will be surprised at the amount of insight you can get from simply asking; the amount of time you can save by knowing who and where to ask, then doing it. I ask all kinds of dumb questions now, with consideration and respect for people's time, space and availability, of course. ;)

First principles is the first basis from which a thing is known.

Aristotle, around 350 BC

Also, totally paraphrasing; Sorry, Totle. :D

But I have not always been like this. I am a painfully shy person, so asking questions, especially in forums, is something that I have and still struggle with to this day. I feel like I have grown a little, though, since I started contributing to open-source. I was terrible when I started my journey at Tremor; I am slightly less terrible now, hopefully, on Neutron. That's growth, isn't it? I don't care, I shall register that as major growth. :D Shyness aside, I think that I was afraid to ask questions in the past, and preferred to do my own research, however long it took, ashamed of being perceived as stupid or not knowledgeable enough. Gee, the irony was lost on me. Shame. Now, I strongly believe that it's okay not to know something (important or relevant); everyone has knowledge gaps, we are all exposed to different circumstances throughout our lives. What is unfortunate is the lack of curiosity, the lack of interest to know.

And, in whatever we do, I think we ought to do it in kindness. In life and in our work, it is easy to be frustrated and take it out on the people around us. It is important to practise empathy and treat each other with respect and compassion, in cognizance of our mutual humanity as well as struggles, feelings and personal circumstances that we may be unaware of. In our open-source communities and other remote work environments, we should remember this at all times, especially when communicating online where some verbal cues present in one-on-one interactions may lack.

People are more important than software.

Heinz Gies, 2021

I realise that I have been going on and on. I do that. I'm stopping now.

So, why Outreachy, you ask?

From the moment I learnt about Outreachy, I knew that I had to apply. I was immediately enticed by the program's objective to promote true diversity and representation in open-source. My lack of a technical background, insufficient skills, gender or colour were not a barrier, but rather a chance for growth and development. What a rare opportunity, I thought. As I was answering the essay questions, I sincerely felt like I was talking to a therapist about all my frustrations, thus far, getting into and hanging on in the technology field; an invisible therapist who would then prescribe to me an amazing internship and a stipend!

I am glad that I applied, and am thankful to everyone at Outreachy and the Software Freedom Conservancy for changing lives all around the world. More personally, I am very grateful to my really awesome friend, Janthemano, for introducing me to this wonderful program; my amazing mentor, Lajos Katona, who has been very helpful, supportive and understanding since the contribution period until now, and the Neutron community by and large for being supportive as well.

More updates in subsequent blog posts.

Ta-ta, now. :)