Hear firsthand from Sanyam Goel on all the great memories and knowledge the mentors and winners got to amass at the Google Code-In Grand Prize Trip this past June in San Francisco, CA. Sanyam provided us a thorough retelling through both photos and words of the adventure-filled trip he attended as the accompanying mentor with our winners, Chirag Gupta and Matt Katz.

If you too would like to experience the same, the 2018 Google Code-In kicks off October 23. This year the Mifos Initiative will be participating in Google Code-In as a sub-organization under the umbrella org of DIAL – Digital Impact Alliance. So don’t be alarmed if you don’t find us listed separately, students will get to have the same impact in fighting poverty with financial inclusion in the wide variety of tasks we’ll have listed under DIAL.

About Google Code In

Google Code In is a contest to introduce pre-university students (ages 13-17) to open source software development. Since 2010, 8,108 students from 107 countries have completed over 40,100 open source tasks!

Google Code In provide a great experience to pre-university students to accelerate their carriers with the open source experience and contribution to the real open source software while earning a digital certificate and cool prizes like T-shirts, Hoodies, Stickers!

This contest is often the first experience many students have with open source, hence it is designed to make it easy for students to jump right in.

Each Organization creates a list of small tasks(3-5 hours each) for students to work on, categorizing tasks in the field of Code, Documentation/Training, Outreach/Research, Quality Assurance, or User Interface and segregating them into 3 levels, Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced Tasks.

Students can search for the task that interests them and claims it and have 3 days to complete a task.

At the end of the contest, each organization will choose five finalists to receive limited edition Google Code-in hoodies! Two finalists from each organization will be grand prize winners and go on a trip to Google Headquarters in California!

Mifos Initiative is one of the 25 organizations who took part in GCI-2017 as a mentoring organization to accomplish their mission “fight poverty by one line of code”.

It was one of the biggest participation for Mifos Initiative in terms of both growth participation of student and task completion which increased by 362% with 123 students completing 458 tasks, which was nearly three times as many as the 159 that were completed in the competition last year.

Mifos Initiative conducted different sessions in schools with the help of community members to spread the word about Mifos Initiative and how school students can dive into open source communities and contribute to live projects.

We also conducted AMA(Ask Me Anything) session to solve all type of queries and help students to connect with different members and community members.

After the contest concludes in January 2018, Mifos Initiative selected two lucky grand prize winners and three finalists. The grand prize winners are awarded the trip to Google San Francisco with a parent/chaperone!

This year, our top five finalists were Chirag Gupta, Matthew Katz, Janice Kim,  Muhammad Rafly Andrianza, and Shivam Kumar Singh.

And the lucky Grand prize winners were Chirag Gupta and Matthew Katz.

And I was lucky enough to be selected as representative of Mifos Initiative to accompany grand prize winners and also to represent Mifos Initiative in Grand Prize trip at Google Headquarters in California, USA. (Woohoo!)

About Me and My Responsibility

Last year, I got connected with the Mifos Initiative by participating in Google Summer of Code 2017 an amazing opportunity by Google Open Source team, by contributing to Apache Fineract Project.

On 28th October 2017, I got a mail from Edward Cable, via Google Code In portal, stated “You have been invited to be a Mentor for The Mifos Initiative for Google Code-in 2017 by Edward Cable”

With this invitation, it comes a huge pool of responsibilities to me as to mentor students, and for me It was my first time to provide mentorship at such a great level and to review the tasks claimed by students at the same time, though I have provided mentorship to at my university level to juniors in college but I was bit nervous before starting of the GCI as I had to manage my University End Term Examinations and also my participation in ACM-ICPC Regional contest with the Google Code In Contest.

After the AMA session, I realized that school students must have the knowledge about Git and must have some hands-on experience in Git, so I posted some youtube tutorials link on Mifos Gitter channel so that students can do hands-on and get familiar with Git and version control system and in the meanwhile, I tried to make each and every task as descriptive and tried to add sufficient knowledge, so that it will be very easier for students who want to claim any task.

Overall, it was a great learning experience for me to participate in Google Code In as a mentor.

When I got to know about the trip, That I was selected as one of the representatives of Mifos to represent Mifos in the Google Code In Grand Prize Trip, California, USA.

I was really excited to meet Google Open Source team: Stephanie Taylor, Josh Simmons, Mary Radomile, Cat Allman, Maria Tabak, and Mifos Initiative, CEO/Organisation Admin: Edward Cable

I was also excited to meet mentors and winners from other open source organizations.

Day 1 – Monday, 6/25; Welcome Reception and Dinner at Google San Francisco Office

I started my day by meeting Ed, at the Oakland Airport, where we took a rental car to pick up Chirag(Mifos Grand Prize winner) and his brother, Hemant from San Francisco Airport.

After a small catchup at the SFO airport we all headed to LinkedIn Office in Sunnyvale where we met Marius, Sr. Staff Software Engineer at LinkedIn, CA, USA and had a yumilicious Indian lunch at the LinkedIn Office.

After a small tour and bike ride at LinkedIn Office, we All headed to the Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park. We had a small struggle in finding parking space in FB HQ but we somehow got to know about the huge parking space of Facebook and also got to see some awesome cars in the FB parking, hahaha :P.

In Facebook HQ, we met Ashwin Poojary, Systems Engineering at Facebook

Ashwin was very welcoming and gave us a tour of the major portion of the Facebook Headquarters and with an ice Cream treat

After visiting the Facebook Headquarters, we all headed to our next stop that is Hyatt Regency to collect our badges from the Google Open Source in the lobby, and type of a small meetup with Google Open Source Team in Hyatt Lobby and then we joined other GCI winners and mentors for a walk to the Google San Francisco office which is couple of blocks away, we were welcomed there by the rest of the team at Google, Woohoo!

We all gathered on the 7th floor of the Google San Francisco office, a lot of goodies were distributed with the orientation and welcoming reception and then we went to have a super awesome dinner in the hall during which most of all winners were busy participating in the Icebreaker human scavenger hunt, while mentors and chaperones were trying to help winners in their scavenger hunt.

While I had a super early dinner and also had a great conversation with Ed, Other mentors, and winners from different organizations, We also met Justin DU, former year GCI finalist from Mifos Initiative.

We also managed to have some clicks of the great view of Bay Bridge from the 7th floor of Google San Francisco office.

It was an astonishing start to the exciting GCI trip and we all had an awesome conversation that evening.

Day 2 – Tuesday 6/26 – Google Mountain View and Google Store

I was super excited to visit Google Headquarter as I had only seen the snapshots of Google Headquarters on the internet.

We all gathered in the hotel lobby at around 8:30 AM and everyone was enthusiastic to visit Google Headquarters in Mountain View.

The whole crowd was divided into 2 shuttle buses and during the trip, Stephanie Taylor acted as our tour guide and gave insights of various places all along our journey to Mountain View from Embarcadero and according to Stephanie, we were lucky enough for not to face any traffic and we all reached our destination in just 50 minutes.

As we reached, we all fetched breakfast and settled down in the hall in “1900” building for the Award ceremony. The Award ceremony started with the brief introduction about Google Open Source program followed by the award ceremony from Chris DiBona, Director of Open Source at Google.

Josh clicked some really great photographs of each winner and with their mentor during the award ceremony.

The event was followed by talks from super cool Googlers where we had a talk on:

  • Recruitment at Google led by Brittany and Lauren.
  • Ciphers led by Conley Owens
  • Chrome OS led by Grant Grundler

Google Open source team also gave us the opportunity to meet some Googlers by grouping winners and mentor with the Googlers of their Home Country during lunch.

We had lunch at the Google HQ cafeteria with all the choices of food they gave us, believe me, It was so confusing to make a choice among all the delicious dishes served. It was a great afternoon with good food and great conversation with Googlers, Mentors, GCI students and with their parents.

After the lunch we all headed for a small tour of Google campus, took lots of group pictures and posed with the Android Oreo statue and I also tried to capture some parts of GooglePlex with my GoPro.

After a few more talks by Googlers about

  • Waymo led by Franklin Morley
  • Oppia led by Sean Lip
  • Google Developer Relations led by Uttam Tripathi

We all headed to the Google Merchandise Store after talks, where all Students received a $150 token amount in their Payoneer account and a $75 gift card to every mentor to shop at Google Store.

We also visited the Google Android Lawn and managed to get awesome and memorable pics with Android statues.

It was great fun clicking pics with Android Statues or App Logos, we use in our daily lifestyle.

Then we all returned back to the Auditorium where some mentors and winners shared their GCI experience, It was nice and also a learning experience of how we can increase our participation in Google Code In for the subsequent years and how we can improve the contest.

later on that day we had dinner at the Googleplex, I also met Sean Lip (Director of Oppia, and current Google employee) and we discussed about how we can make it easy to create interactive lessons that educate and engage online via open source which is the main motive of that organization and how we can help to spread the word about it. It was a great discussion with the Sean and we wrapped up for the day and returning to Hyatt.

After returning to Hyatt, I quickly got freshen up and headed to the Union Square and visited the Chinatown and Disney Store, and other exciting places, It was great fun to roam around on streets of SF.

Day 3 – Wednesday 6/27 – The Fun Day!

The third day of the Trip was FunDay or a dazzling day!

Google Open Source gave all invitees an offer to choose between a Segway ride or a Cable Car ride. I chose the former one and also most of the people chose the Segway!. All Segway riders had an early start of the day from 7:45 AM at the Hotel Lobby, and Stephanie accompanied us to the Segway. We all reached the “Electric Tour company: San Francisco Segway Tour”. The whole bunch of Segway riders was divided into 3 groups and each group was accompanied by great Segway mentors, and in the meanwhile, Stephanie clicked some super awesome cool pics of each and every person with several angles on the Segway training.

Every mentor is super cool and helped us by providing a great training session on the Segway. Once everyone was confident with Segway, we all started our Segway tour all across on the streets of SF and covered the most popular sites including Fisherman’s Wharf, Little Italy, and Ghirardelli Square. That was a 2.5-hour Segway tour which also provides some of the best views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the unparalleled waterfront led by the Segway mentor – Freddie.

It was truly an Exceptional experience for all of us to ride segway in the perfect weather of wind in SF, as I was super excited about Segway, I tried to capture my whole segway ride with my GoPro. Hahaha and we also got a “Doctorate of Segway Navigation and Rider Proficiency” from the company for successfully completing the Segway Ride without any crash! 😛

After the Segway ride, cable car members and Segway members, we all met at “The Pub, Ghirardelli Square”, where the restaurant printed a special menu for all the GCI folks!

After an amazing lunch, we all headed to the Golden Gate Bridge. Me, Chirag and some other GCI folks went for a walk with Stephanie and she showed us some special part of Golden Gate bridge,  we all walk down to Fort Point and by Crissy Field also helped us to capture some moments with the great views. Believe me, she just not a Googler but also an astonishing tour guide for all of us too!

Later I walked halfway down the Golden Gate Bridge and that moment we all explored the Golden Gate Bridge from over it. We also explored the bridge from beneath, So for that we headed to the Pier 40 for the Yacht for Dinner Cruise. It was an incredible cruise with a bar and kitchen on the lower deck with an open deck at the front and rear on the upper deck.

Google open source team also invited a professional photographer, who clicked some super cool candids and awesome shoot on the whole trip on Yacht. We also got the opportunity to explore the Alcatraz Island from Yacht and also the cruise went close to AT&T park where a baseball match was scheduled for the SF Giants.

After an exhausting day, but an unforgettable experience we all headed back to our hotel.

Day 4 – Thursday 6/28 – Last Day at Google San Francisco Office

Unfortunately, It was officially our last day of the Trip.

I got up late at that morning and I missed the walk with the whole squad to the Google San Francisco office from Hotel Lobby, but I was lucky enough to find Maria Tabak from the Google Open Source team in the hotel lobby, she was very kind and also offered me to share her cab from the Hotel to the Google Office. I interacted with her during the journey from Hotel to Google Office and also got to know, how she got into Google and got connected with the Google Open Source Team.

We somehow managed to catch up with the squad at the breakfast and we all had an awesome food with the amazing view of Bay Bridge from the 7th floor of the Google San Francisco office. Everyone was a little upset as the whole trip was about to end in the next few hours.

We had a couple of more talks by the Googlers about

Kubernetes led by Terry Ryan

Open Source Licensing led by Dash Renaud

Project Fi/Network Performance led by Eric Gavaletz

I felt so lucky at that time that I got a chance to come on the trip and to attend those amazing talks by the live Googlers.

At around 12:00, we all had a delicious lunch at the Google Office followed by a couple of more presentation about GCI experiences of students.

Google Open Source team also planned a special goodbye surprise for all the GCI students and Mentors by providing more swags by a small fortune wheel game, I got a special Android ShowPiece in that game 😛

By this point, most of us knew each other and we had made a great network of cool people in the open source community! The mentors formed a Telegram group having all conversations ranging from social conversations to discussions and strategies on how they could help GCI run better in the following editions and we all then headed to out Hotels as some of us were flying out in the afternoon.

At night, I also managed to walk from Embarcadero to the Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, I got to see a bunch of Sea Lions on the little dock of the Pier. It was a breezing walk on the seaside of the pier with an impressive lighting of Bay Bridge.

By this point, most of us knew each other and we had made a great network of cool people in the open source community! The mentors formed a Telegram group having all conversations ranging from social conversations to discussions and strategies on how they could help GCI run better in the following editions and we all then headed to out Hotels as some of us were flying out in the afternoon.

At night, I also managed to walk from Embarcadero to the Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, I got to see a bunch of Sea Lions on the little dock of the Pier. It was a breezing walk on the seaside of the pier with an impressive lighting of Bay Bridge.

The End

Overall, it was one of the lifetime experience for both students and mentors. The trip was full of memories and watching pre-university students working with open source at an early age. Not only we got to learn so much, but also we made new and special friends throughout the trip.

The trip was a wonderful experience and I would like to thank my organization, The Mifos Initiative, Organisation Admin, Edward Cable and our hosts at Google Open Source Team, Stephanie, Josh, Mary, Cat, Maria for the GCI – Grand Prize Trip.