What an amazing experience the Skool team had this May! We had the chance to spend three eventful days at the East Coast headquarters of Google in Boston, specifically in the Cambridge neighbourhood, home to some rather famous institutions, such as Harvard University and the Mecca of research and technology, MIT. The event was held by Google to host its 2015 RISE international award’s winners, including Skool, who all work on educating and inspiring the young towards technology. The 37 non-profit organisations, who received awards from Google, gathered from 19 different countries around the world, such as Kenya, Australia, Peru as well as lots of different points around Europe, so we had the chance to see and learn from many good examples, and to share knowledge and experience.
Google’s offices are considered one of the coolest workplaces in the US too, and we now had a rare opportunity to personally check it out. So what was so special? The labyrinth like, modern, colourful, multistory building, filled with inspiring and creative spaces already impressed us quite a bit. What’s more, the hospitality of the Google team was over the top. Similarly to the Google employees, we also had breakfast, lunch and dinner eating like kings in the different impressive office canteens – each of which could operate as a separate hip restaurant too if it so wished.
But of course, food was only the smallest part of what was waiting for us at Google. The summit’s aim was to help and inspire the non-profits on a professional level in order to become more efficient, reach better results, and make an even bigger impact on society. Over the three days, we heard inspiring talks from successful and experienced leaders, such as the head of the Google Cambridge office, successful women role models, members of Google’s education reach team, who all have strong experience in addressing social problems on a global level. There were some workshops which focused on specific challenges and tasks our organisations have to overcome, and helped and inspired us to address them and take the next steps. We also had the chance to learn directly from Google’s developers – they introduced us to some cool coding programs and apps that they use to teach the young to technology, for example the Pencil Code, App Inventor, or Coder for Raspberry Pi. Besides, we were lucky enough to not only get to know the Dr. Scratch program, which focuses on analysing Scratch projects, but the founder of the project too – he was one of the RISE award winners, present at the summit.
Besides the above, we also had time to meet the fellow organisations, network, build possible partnerships, and to exchance ideas, experiences and best practices. And of course the Google team also dedicated time for us to have fun and see the city. The last night, for example, we were invited to a Sunset Boat Trip along the panoramic views of Boston Harbour.
We have returned home with an incredible amount of motivation, inspiration and ideas, which we will now work on transforming into Skool’s operations, and our future programs. A huge thank you to the Google team for this special experience!
To read more about Google’s RISE awards, please see our previous blog entry here: