“I Wanted to Make a Difference” TechGirl Imene Maallem speaks
by Imene Maallem (Algeria)
A young girl of 17 years came from a place where most people don’t appreciate or believe in talented teenagers’ abilities and what they can do. To these people, life is only about gaining a lot of money, getting a job, having a family, a nice car, and a lovely house. They do not care about what teenagers can do or how youth can build the future.
I wanted to make a difference.
It doesn’t matter how big that difference is, but achieving that goal is why I am here in this life. I have always wanted the children in my city to have the right to show the world who they are and what they can do. There are a lot of brilliant people in my city but unfortunately, I have not found anyone or anything that raises their hands and voices together. I used to share my dreams, thoughts, and ambitions with my friends, but they all just laughed. I could read it in their eyes.
But I never gave up. Although I live in an environment of frustration, I believe that everyone has talent and in order not to lose it, she must show it and improve it. I always prayed to god, God, I am weak; I am incapable to do anything. Since you are always with us, please, help me to do something, to show to everybody that nothing is impossible.
About 4 years ago, as I was struggling with these thoughts and beliefs, an illness befell me that greatly affected my ability to study. A sudden light came through a small hole that was the only way for the light to come in—the TechGirls program. At first, I wasn’t sure if there was even a small hope that I would be selected. We live in a world where there is no justice. So often, the strong one beats the weak and brilliant people are forgotten. But I believed that God would never let me down. I applied and then I WAS SELECTED.
At that moment, my beliefs became even stronger. The TechGirls program was like a gate to move forward and show the others how much they misjudged my abilities as a young woman. My feelings were a mix of hope, happiness, fear, courage, determination, anxiety and most of all, passion.
I was excited about this program because it gave me an opportunity to improve my technical skills. I tried very hard to do that by myself but I was unable because I couldn’t find enough support and encouragement locally—or anyone who could teach me. At that time, I was afraid. How can such a young lady travel on her own when her family is not there to support her? She has to face all the challenges on her own. But thanks to God, I found the strength to do it.
I loved every single day of the program. I met a lot of people and learned a lot from them. Initially, I thought that TechGirls was created only to help participants gain technical skills. Soon, I realized I was wrong. I not only gained technical skills that will help me in my career, God willing, I also gained a lot of from experiencing life in the USA. I used to be shy and not talk with a lot of people because I thought they wouldn’t understand me. Since coming on this program, that has changed in a good way.
This program lead me to discover a part of myself that I couldn’t find before. My favorite part of the program was iD Tech Camp. I loved this place so much. I had a wonderful time there and made great memories that it will be impossible to forget. I met wonderful instructors and faced a lot of challenges that I tried to defeat no matter how big they were. I also experience life in a university setting, something that I had long wanted to achieve. I also learned a lot about social life in the USA.
TechGirls was like a dream that I have just woken up from and now I have to share it with my community. I gained and learned a lot of things that not everyone has the opportunity to learn. I am so excited to apply what I gained, share it with others, and inspire talented people just like I had the opportunity to be inspired by great persons.
Well, that is part of my story that I wanted to share with you. Believe in God and yourself and never let others make you feel desperate. NEVER GIVE UP. That is the most important thing that the TechGirls program has taught me.