Hack Reactor Alumni Help Teach Kenyans At Coding School

Hack Reactor

Alumni Help Establish Kenya-Based Developer Program

Two alumni are embarking on an exciting journey: from January to March, they will teach, mentor and generally provide assistance at a new coding school in Nairobi, Kenya. Oleg Yanchinskiy and Rick Avendano will be assisting the Moringa School in starting their first cohort. Both are confident they will have a ton to offer, and even more to gain from this experience.

“I'm really excited,” said Yanchinskiy, the day before the trip, “not just to be in Kenya, but to meet the first class of people to sign up for this school. I'm excited to make the connection between Kenya and Hack Reactor, and contribute to their learning environment.”

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The Moringa School, which offers a 12-week program in Nairobi, Kenya, is starting its first cohort on Monday, January 12th.

The two of them began their trip on Thursday, January 8th.

“My biggest goals have been to experience the culture on a day-to-day level, grow as a Software Engineer, and really take the role of teaching someone how to learn to be a Software Engineer,” says Avendano.

The Moringa school will focus on Java and Android app development. Though neither of these are part of Hack Reactor’s curriculum, all students learn to teach themselves new languages and technologies. Avendano and Yanchinskiy have devoted the last month to learning the concepts and skills they will need to be effective teachers.

“I’ve learned to go from a white canvas to a fully fledged Android app,” Avendano described.

The challenge they faced was to go from students of Java and Android Studio (Google’s Android app platform) to teachers in a compressed time frame.

“Essentially, you worry about mastering the technologies,” said Yanchinskiy. “My strategy was twofold: focus on Java as a language, and focus on Android Studio to be able to explain the functionality.”

The two of them hope to bring certain key practices employed by Hack Reactor to the Moringa school, while simultaneously allowing the school to grow based on its own needs.

“Hack Reactor’s program is constantly evolving. I want to bring that fast, iterative approach,” Avendano noted. “Another thing is really stressing the importance of why you are doing things in a certain way, and hammer in the foundational pieces of what it takes to be a strong Software Engineer.”

A major piece of this is the ability to establish proficiency with new languages and frameworks.

“The thing I really want to teach them is to pick up any new technology and be able to develop a certain level of comfort with it, so they'll actually be able to use it,” Yanchinskiy explained. “I feel like people are intimidated by technologies they're not familiar with, and that's something Hack Reactor alleviates.”

As for what the Moringa School students will build, the alumni are eager to find out.

“A lot of Android applications are created here in the states, and they are applicable to us,” Yanchinskiy observed. “It's powerful for students to be able to develop things that are applicable to themselves.”

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