Several years ago Tarek Sheikh Al-Shbab was a volunteer teacher at Wikilogia, an organization in Syria offering open source development education. Tarek taught hardware and robotics courses, and he was overwhelmed by the size of the waiting list. So, together with other teachers, Tarek created BitCode, a platform that taught coding in Arabic. It was inspired by interactive coding education programs, such as CodeAcademy, whose limitation was that they were available only in English.
The experience made Tarek passionate about building social educational ventures. But it was important for Tarek, considering the difficult conditions in his home country, to learn creative ways to get ventures off the ground, to bootstrap, and to grow initiatives despite the many obstacles. This is what led Tarek to the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp.
Tarek won a scholarship to the Bootcamp that MIT held in Seoul, South Korea. “It’s so great to be engaged and inspired by other Bootcampers, in a totally new environment that’s so different from your home, and that what I got from Seoul,” says Tarek. “I was really inspired by South Korea, especially Seoul, how they went from nothing to something, how they succeeded to become one of great developed countries of the world, built a very creative community, and grew strong in technology. It really inspires me a lot.”
Tarek’s hope is to bring that inspiration and innovation back home. “Education in Syria is still very outdated compared to modern models that hone analytical and critical thinking skills,” explains Tarek. “But I have a vision for the people of my country that they obtain world class education and fully take part in growing new industries through technology.”
Tarek now runs coding bootcamps in Syria. He says, “My country needs me.”