Around the world in 126 days celebrating Google Summer of Code

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

To celebrate our 10th Google Summer of Code (GSoC), members of the Google Open Source Programs Office have been traveling the world attending conferences, hosting events at local Google offices and holding meetups at universities where we have had high student participation over the last nine years of the program.
Smiles in Singapore
Students from 97 countries have participated in the program so far and we wanted to try to visit some of the countries to recognize the students, mentors and universities that have helped to make this program a success over the last decade.
University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka
The team visited 10 countries starting in late October beginning with the United Kingdom, then on to Canada, Romania, Poland, Australia, Sri Lanka, Belgium, India, Singapore and concluding with the FOSSASIA conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in early March.
GSoC Reception at the University of Toronto
This travel has been eye opening and an opportunity of a lifetime for all of us.  We met friendly and enthusiastic students, teachers, mentors and open source enthusiasts from so many backgrounds and cultures — all with a love of open source.
Politechnic University of Bucharest, Romania
There have been over 7000 student participants and 7500 mentors since the program’s inception. These are incredible statistics, but actually meeting the people behind these numbers was rewarding in ways that we didn’t expect.  Hearing stories time and time again from students about how they found their confidence and built their skill set during the summer they spent coding in GSoC was heartwarming. And almost all talked about the invaluable guidance they received from their mentors. To have a program where mentors from every time zone imaginable take up to 20 hours a week out of their busy lives to help guide a new open source contributor in their community is tremendous. We also spoke with many former students who are now active contributors to the open source communities they worked with during GSoC and quite a few have also become mentors for GSoC and/or Google Code-in (GCI).

Cambodia - FOSSASIA
Picture by Hong Phuc Dang
Cat Allman and I traveled to Norton University in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in late February to talk about the open source programs we run, GSoC and GCI, and spend time with past GSoCers, and GSoC hopefuls. FOSSASIA helped organize travel for 10 former Google Summer of Code students to come from China, India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Vietnam to talk about their experiences with the program and take part in the conference.

Cat gave an inspiring keynote, “GSoC: Past, Present, and Future”, which touched on opportunities the program offers both organizations and individuals to improve not only the state of open source software, but also their lives and the world.

Friday afternoon continued with four tracks of talks throughout the day ending with a panel discussion of Women in IT. The panel included Cat, three former GSoC students from 2013—Sindhu Sundar (GNOME), Sneha Priscilla Makini (GNU Mailman), Richa Jain (MediaWiki), and many other inspiring women.

Saturday morning I gave a talk on GCI, our contest introducing 13-17 year olds to open source software development. Most of the audience wasn’t familiar with GCI but I was quite pleased with the many questions posed by attendees including interested teachers that want to get their classes involved in our next contest.

Next up were GSoC lightning talks by all ten of the students that FOSSASIA organized travel for to attend the conference. Students talked about their experiences in GSoC and a few also gave very helpful tips about writing proposals and how to approach the GSoC application process. With eight tracks of talks on Saturday alone there really was a session for everyone.
GSoC Lunch in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The enthusiasm we found in Cambodia and throughout our travels during this “world tour” celebrating GSoC was remarkable. We are all excited to start this tenth year of GSoC coding next month and to see what this year’s 1300+ students can accomplish during their 3 months of coding.  Currently the students and mentors are engaged in their community bonding period where students learn more about their org’s code base, become involved in the communities and start their prep work for their coding which begins May 19.

Last but not least, the Google Open Programs Office would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to all of the volunteers who graciously hosted our team, spent countless hours organizing events, and toured us around your beautiful countries. It was an experience of a lifetime and one we won’t soon forget.

By Stephanie Taylor, Open Source Programs