Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

Juan Steyn: Nomination for 2018 Steering Committee

2018 Election: Juan Steyn

Hi! I’m Juan Steyn, currently employed at the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources as project manager. I’m an enabler at heart and I want to contribute and give back to the African and international Carpentry community. I especially want to help ensure that the core values of the Carpentries get transferred and integrated into how our workshops are conducted within new loci. Africa has A LOT of potential and I would like to play my part to enable and catalyze this potential into action.

My involvement with the Carpentries

The first Software Carpentry workshop I attended was organised by Anelda van der Walt towards the end of 2015. This workshop provided me with a foundation to try new things when it came to programming and working with data.

In 2016, I completed my instructor training and during my instructor checkout demo session the “penny dropped”. During this session at 1 AM in the morning, it was an inspiring experience to see how people connecting from four different continents shared similar approaches and cared about the same thing. At that point, I started to appreciate the potential of the Carpentries’ approach to enable and grow communities from the bottom up. You do not need to be a tenured professor or a manager or anybody “important”. You only need to be yourself and volunteer a bit of your time to make a difference and get a wealth of experience and life lessons in return.

During 2017, I got more involved with workshop organisation. I also joined the mentoring sub-committee and completed my Trainer training in September. To date, I’ve been involved with more than seven carpentry instructor events as instructor, host, helper, co-planner, mentor and trainer trainer.

I’m also an advocate for the Carpentries approach, especially in growing computation capacity within the commons of Digital Humanities in Southern Africa as well as its potential to be a vehicle to introduce the workshop participant to digital scholarship and e-research.

I am also involved in the second round of Carpentry mentorship groups in order to contribute back to the community and further grow initiatives and support structures for Africa.

Going forward

With the Carpentries expanding into new under-represented environments, cultures and languages, I believe it is important to emphasize the role of mentorship to transfer core values and approaches. In the African context, it is our experience that firstly a context-specific understanding is required to host successful workshops. Secondly, it is important to share knowledge and especially the “ways of doing” through hands-on mentorship. I believe this is essential to successfully expand the Carpentries community further into new territories.

As Bruce Becker recently tweeted:

“What did we learn from @aneldavdw at #UC2017? Get up and do something. Your ripple might raise a tide.”

So let’s get up and start our ripples …

Dialogue & Discussion

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