Hello Outreachy!

Hello and welcome to the blog portion of my website! It’s subject to change as I learn more but for now it’ll serve as my base for writing about my experiences with Outreachy as part of the 2021 Summer Cohort!

What is Outreachy?

Outreachy is an internship program centered around open-source software, projects, and companies! What makes it special is it focuses on pairing interns from disadvantaged groups, especially women, BIPOC and queer folks with companies and projects aiming to increase diversity in open-source projects.

Who am I?

You could read my about page on the left, or this little spiel; I’m Madds or Madeline Holland (they/them or she/her), a queer, non-binary, neurodivergent human and a recent recipient of a bachelor’s of film and media production with a minor in Japanese language studies! I focused my university career on researching virtual reality and identity in the context of experimental film, linguistics, and LGBTQ+ spheres. I’m especially interested in the applications of virtual reality as a tool for education and empathy, and how it might be used by marginalized and underrepresented communities to share their experiences.

What traits do I value in myself?

I strive to uphold a set of values for myself, primary among them my kindness, openness, and curiosity. I grew up in an environment where some of the closest people to always had something to be mean to others about while also teaching me to be kind. These conflicting ideas led to me resolving early on to always be nice to people, and so it became one of my earliest core values.

Tying into, and growing out of, this is my focus on openness. I take openness in this context to mean being open to new ideas and the experiences of others that conflict with one’s worldviews (within reason of course). Part of my childhood found me in an religious environment which was the antithesis of open, the sort of intensely *phobic worldview which I’m glad many religious communities have moved away from, but even in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s I found myself in it. Again, people preached and practiced wildly conflicting ideas, which confused me to no end, and I found myself rebuffed when I pointed how little it made sense, and thus I decided over the course of many years to aim to be open to all, to learn from others that which I do not experience, to help those who need it, and to be open to learning new things for the rest of my life.

This leads me into my third and most important trait, the openness to learning new things, or curiosity. I have described myself as a curious person for quite some time, as I find myself reading books, diving down website rabbit holes, and trying out new things all to soak up as many new ideas and knowledge as I could. From my days of reading novels in primary school to now watching educational videos on a myriad of topics, many sourced through social media such as Mastodon, I find myself learning in all aspects of my life, and it’s one of the most enjoyable things about living for me. I love to learn, and I want to learn even more.

What motivated me to apply to Outreachy?

Briefly; curiosity and my wife’s encouragement. I have been immersed in technology since childhood and have maintained this curiosity for my entire life. I initially studied computer sciences in university, but after some issues with how they teach maths and some people in the department not being particularly accepting, I found myself changing majors until I found the Film and Media Studies department.

This department helped me study the media component to virtual reality; something I couldn’t find in the comp-sci department as their program focused on mobile app development. Through the FMS department, I learned theory of various medias, virtual reality included, along with animation, internet infrastructure, digital and analogue video, sound production and so many more– but not much about the hands-on making and coding of those medias.

This is what attracted me to Outreachy, being able to work on a project with a paid internship and catch up, in a sense, on the practical skills needed for technology and media development. I was on the fence as to whether to apply or not, but my wife encouraged me to take the jump and fill out the initial application, gently reminding me to not forget about it, and giving me the encouragement that yes, I could do it. With that encouragement and knowing about Outreachy mainly from people talking about it on Mastodon, I submitted my initial application and here we are!