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Asel – Bringing Digital Tools to Rural Communities

Asel, Kyrgyzstan, TechGirls 2020

We recognize the accomplishment of Asel empowering and supporting children on Universal Children’s Day.

Being TechGirl is being inspired and inspiring others. 

I remember writing my essay for this program for two months. I was so excited about the opportunity to become part of such an amazing community that I spent a lot of time preparing for it. Now I’m here and one of the TechGirls! Sometimes I see myself as the luckiest person in the world, around whom there are so many inspiring personalities. I would say that TechGirls is more than just a family.

In 2020 and 2021 I participated in the Virtual TechGirls programs. Even though it was held online, it was one of the best months for my personal and professional growth. As part of the program, I was able to learn web development from the professors of Virginia Tech University. It was such a fascinating experience to learn something new as a college student. I really enjoyed working on assignments where we created note apps and stopwatch. Those assignments helped us to not only learn Web Development but also work as a team with other TechGirls, collaborating on new ideas and accurately accomplishing our tasks. Participating in home hospitality days and global cafe days I heard so many inspiring stories from other girls that encouraged me to organize a meaningful and interesting follow-on project. 

When I was 13 years old, I started to apply for different exchange programs, and write many essays. However, having no laptop, I would write all my essays in Word documents, then save them and send them to my sisters to check. Every new idea took a lot of time, including the process of saving and sending again. My sister suggested that I use Google Docs where we can do all processes of writing online. Having been acquainted with such a tool, I saved a lot of time. This made me realize how important it is to know about digital tools. When COVID-19 took place, I began witnessing how many teachers and students in school are suffering from the online process. For older ones, it was really hard to adjust to using social media and digital tools used for assigning tasks and grading them. This made me see how digital literacy is becoming vital to learn, so I decided to create a follow-on project called “Umtuluu”. The goal of this project is to improve the digital literacy of Kyrgyz schoolchildren, as well as create a platform for sharing knowledge and new opportunities. 

The Umtuluu project is not only a place for teaching digital literacy but also a platform for new educational opportunities. Since I was able to meet inspiring women at NASA as part of the TechGirls program, I realized that with educational programs like TechGirls, we can be part of such a large and global network of bright-minded women and get educated at great universities like Virginia Tech.

I hope “Umtuluu” can help many students and teachers in rural areas learn how to use digital tools, and how to find credible sources of information. I believe that by learning such knowledge, teachers can better teach their courses online, by engaging school children with interesting ways to study via digital tools. Students will be able to develop themselves online, discover more resources for their studies, and find opportunities for their professional growth. 

Asel