“Sharing knowledge is the most fundamental act of friendship. Because it is a way, you can give without losing something.”– Richard Stallman.
Here we are, four months since we first started Rural Hackers at Anceu Coliving – an offline and free school where you can learn digital competencies in contact with an open-minded community.
Our projects aim to solve real-life problems, and we want to develop a comprehensive development of competencies in our students.
In the following article, we would like to share with you what we have been up to lately, who our students are and what they’ve learned.
Who are our students?
From the beginning, our main objective was to provide free quality education to everyone, especially to those who need the most. These people are looking to learn digital competencies, language exchange, or be part of a community of digital nomads and remote workers with whom they could connect and ask for guidance.
So we created three groups of people:
1. The first group comprises seven-nine youngsters from vulnerable families facing financial challenges and poor access to resources or education. They come once per week to Anceu Coliving, where the community living there are their mentors.
After the first sessions, we got that a big part of the group was interested in making video games and coding-related activities. In contrast, another half of the group was interested in a more graphic design orientation (photography, drawing, web design, etc.). So we decided to separate them into two teams according to their interests. First, we invited them to join our Discord Community and explained it a bit, and then we organised the sessions with the following structure:
- Activity related to coding or graphic arts for the first hour (depending on the group)
- Break and change of activity, generally rural-related with our coliver Se. For example, building a vegetable garden together (for around half an hour) or helping with some DIY tasks (garden, kitchen, painting).
- And for the rest of the time, we decided to have a snack (the famous “merienda” in Spanish) with the rest of the community who wanted to join so that conversations and connections could happen naturally.
And so we did, and as it worked well, we decided to have this structure as a basic skeleton for the following sessions.
In the first coding sessions, we worked with CodeMonkey while the design team learned about Canva. Some vegetable garden work and “merienda”.
2. The second group comprises older women from nearby villages. Either we go to Vilaboa Village once a week, or they come to Anceu Coliving to learn digital competencies, such as how to use different social media or communication apps, so they can stay in touch with the close ones to teach them the English Language.
3. The third group is also people from the area. They run different organisations or projects but do not have an online presence to spread their message. So whenever they have time and want to come to Anceu Coliving, we teach them how to build websites through WordPress or coding competencies.
For example, Pablo, Ivan and Carlos are working on the prototype water consumption in small villages; check more here: Rural Makers. Also, Ivan is working on developing an intelligent chicken house using robotics. Also, he works in the developing room that controls temperature and humidity levels, where Agustin and Edouard are the mentors helping him with the learning process.
What they’ve been learning so far?
Here is a review of some of the most critical activities that the first group of students were learning running through Rural Hacker, movements led by Andreea and Curro, our Anceu colivers:
1. Coding with Curro
- We decided to begin with the Code-Monkey challenge. For the following session, we upgraded to a more difficult challenge, where a Dodo had to find his egg in every step, and for that, you had to find a suitable algorithm with code. The youngsters had to solve several Quizzes with a coding mindset for both games while playing. The game was principally played in English, so they would also practice some basic, but mostly forgotten, vocabulary with great utility. For this couple of sessions, we had a friend, David, who works in the coding sector, helping and sharing his experience.
2. Content creation, design and visual arts with Andreea
- For people interested in learning how to bring ideas to reality through content creation, design and visual arts, Andreea is teaching them the basics of design: balance, emphasis, repetition, proportion, white space, contrast, colour, size, and fonts. In a couple of sessions, she taught youngsters how to create their logo, how to use the app Canva to create aesthetically appealing profiles, and mainly what apps, tools or extensions they can use when they want to create a design for everything that might be needed.
- Pressed Flower Art – On another day, our students learned how to pick up the most beautiful-looking plants and encourage them. Flower pressing involves flattening leaves and flower petals for use as decoration. The process is done to remove any moisture and preserve the colours. Finally, they learnt how to meticulously maintain flower pieces to create a delicate and striking work of art.
- Our students also learnt how the basics of photography. We had a couple of professional cameras in the coliving, and we wanted to introduce them to the world of photography. So they learnt how to hold a camera, the components of a DSLR, what are the Kings of Photography – Understanding how ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture work and then how to take portrait and landscape photos.
What motivates us giving back to the world?
This is just a part of what Rural Hackers and hacker culture represent. Hacking means building something fast or testing the limits of what can be done. Everything can constantly be improved. Nothing is ever complete. Give before you get it.
Here is our manifesto:
- Sharing is not immoral but a moral imperative (Aaron Swartz).
- We believe in hybrid talents (Ignacio Márquez).
- Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo and transforming people (Seth Godin).
- Solve problems. The rest will be taken care of by Agustín of the future (Agustín Jamardo).
- It’s all to be done (África Rodríguez).
- Keep trying; whatever you do, you will make mistakes. It is strictly forbidden not to make mistakes (Celso, Grandfather of Africa).
- Without curiosity, what are we left with? (Gabinete de Curiosidades).
- Rural teaches us so many things. We give the rural back what we know in the shape of possibilities (Anceu community).
- I don’t have time to convince you if you don’t believe it or understand. So I’m sorry (Satoshi Nakamoto).
Do you also want to be part of the change?