Exploring the concept of Space in a Community

When I saw the prompt space, the first thing that came to mind was the solar system, outer space, NASA and the likes. I immediately pictured an astronaut and pondered my thoughts on ET. Wondered how the planets orbit the sun and which between Pluto and Jupiter piqued my interest at that particular moment. As I read along, I refocused on earth and remembered one of the many spaces that have influenced and shaped me into who I am…

It began with a Medium post about a community I came across back when I had a Twitter account. (Thank you so much Tessie Waithira, you were a crucial degree connection.) I immediately signed up, mark you, by then I was miles away from the physical location of the community meet-ups. That did not deter me to say the least. I was familiarising myself with the field of Data Science that until then had been somewhat unexplored for me. What better way to do so than join a community of like minded people with prospects of being connected to a mentor and hearing from those who’ve walked the path? So I joined the Slack community and hit up a few of the organisers. When challenges or learning curves were thrust upon the group, I did not hesitate to make an attempt. It felt great being part of a larger community, not to mention the enthusiasm from everyone else rubbed off on me.

So my first physical meet-up turned out to be the first of many. I may have since diverted from being an active participant but I’m proud of the strides members of the community are making and the progress the community as a whole is making. Met some of the most meticulous people I’ve come across. Their ideas and solving problem techniques infused with genius. They knew their trade and those who were newbies like myself were equally making their mark.

We had meetups, info sessions and hosted or attended tech events from time to time. The best part is there was always food at all these events 😊.

I became an unofficial ambassador and evangelist. Sharing with anyone who’d care to listen about this dope space I was part of. I remember a few people raising concerns about the name of the community — Nairobi Women in Machine Learning and Data Science (Nairobi WiMLDS). Among other questions they wanted to know why we were sidelining the other gender. A misconception that I was quick to erase. If anything, as most of those who’ve been to any of the meet-ups can attest, the gents are also always well represented. In all fairness though, female representation in tech roles is still far below that of male counterparts. This is the case across the ecosystem, not just in Data Science, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence which are the focus areas of Nairobi WiMLDS. So I was more than hyped to be part of those causing a ripple effect. We as members of the space were benefiting and the larger community was also being impacted. Everybody wins!

Through the community I got to tap into my linguistic side as well. In addition to taking the reigns by being part of the committee involved in organising some of the events. Good times 😊.

We may have started out strangers assembling virtually and physically to share ideas and opportunities but we became friends and at best acquaintances. Special shoutout to Muthoni Wanyoike, Kathleen S., Catherine Gitau, Amina Islam, Brian Muhia and Kenneth M Kinyanjui among many others. You know yourselves. Keep up the amazing work.

Nuggets of insights from that spark to write & create stuff…