Bridging the Tech Gap - from 7,900 Miles Away - Byte Back

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Bridging the Tech Gap – from 7,900 Miles Away

Author: Byte Back
Published: August 26, 2019

Netsai at the Nduna Zimbabwe Trust, where she works as Training Officer. She is visiting Byte Back for four months as a Community Solutions fellow.

By Netsai Emmanuellie Zuze, IREX Community Solutions Fellow, Byte Back

Netsai is a visiting fellow at Byte Back through the Community Solutions Program, run by IREX and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Back home in Harare, Zimbabwe she serves as a Training Officer at Nduna Zimbabwe Trust. This is Netsai’s first time in the United States, and she will be at Byte Back until December.

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot LEARN, UNLEARN, and RELEARN.” – Alvin Tofler

I am on the journey to unlearn and relearn as I embark on exploring technology gaps between Zimbabwe and Washington, DC. I am still trying to wrap my head around this amazing journey that I have embarked on. I have always been passionate about helping young women and girls, particularly those from underprivileged communities but had no idea on where to start or how to go about it.

Netsai works with girls and young women in Zimbabwe who need fundamental computer training.

There are a lot of organizations that work with girls and young women in Zimbabwe but none of them seemed ideal for the vision I had until I got introduced to Nduna Zimbabwe Trust, a nonprofit that supports education and job creation that create a better quality of life for marginalized and disadvantaged people.

What caught my eye was one of the programs under the Trust, Nduna Girls, which not only focuses on sending girls to school but also providing them with supportive interventions and life skills training that builds confidence. Joining the team was such an enriching opportunity to give back to the community and fulfill my dream.

I am Netsai Emmanuellie Zuze and I am a 2019/20 Community Solutions Fellow.

Netsai met other 2019 Community Solutions fellows when she arrived in Washington, DC in August.

I remember when my sister first told me about Community Solutions, I was too intimidated to apply. There are many brilliant people out there, and better solutions to the community, and, like many women, I underestimated myself.

At Nduna, we had recently started teaching young women basic computer skills, and this became a passion project for me. Having computer literacy landed me my first job, so I knew from personal experience the positive effects of computer skills. Although words like email, drop box, USB, Microsoft word are so common today, there is still a group of young, vulnerable women who have never heard these computer terms.

As part of her work with Byte Back, Netsai is involved in community outreach activities. She recently tabled at an event with intern Mark Overby.

I wanted to be part of the solution. I was hungry to bridge the growing technology skills gap, particularly for the vulnerable members of the Zimbabwean community. What better way to increase employability for a girl than through digital skill learning?

This is my passion. This is my community solution.

After realizing that my solution was worth pursuing, I applied for the program. I got accepted! Next, I had to choose an organization to spend where I could spend four months learning and exchanging ideas that align with my community solution. How was I going to find a perfect fit? I discovered very few organizations seemed to focus on tech, but I didn’t want to compromise.

As part of the program, Netsai works with Byte Back staff, such as Martika Futrell, student services coordinator.

When I interviewed with Byte Back, which is achieving so much through technology career training, that I knew I had found the perfect partner organization.

The main core value of Byte Back – believing that everyone deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential – appealed to me most. Could this get any better? They are tailored for exactly what I want to learn and to bring the most impact back to my home country.

For the next few months, I’ll be shadowing tutorial classes for Computer Foundations classes, taking part in fundraising initiatives, and working with the organization’s program team. I can’t wait to learn, unlearn, and relearn right here and continue growing professionally and personally.

“I am still learning.” – Michelangelo at age 81


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