What would a world without open source collaboration look like? For starters, the Internet and Web would instantly evaporate. The world of technology we live in today relies on the collaboration and sharing between people across the world, many times this collaboration takes place in online networks.
As a Geoscience major, chapter president of YouthMappers at Texas Tech University, and a data and technology enthusiast it is personally amazing for me to see the impact and community created by the technology behind this phenomenon and the extensive global connection it offers. I never would have thought it possible to be mapping on my laptop parts of rural Mozambique in collaboration with USAID and a massive student network while hiding from the rain in an internet café in Russia and facetiming on my smartphone with a co-officer in YouthMappers Texas Tech, as I am now. This instant really reveals the importance of technology and how it has remade what is possible and not – and youth mappers is in the middle of that innovation in every way.
With that being said, I must recognize that the importance of technology to these causes is only second to the diverse group of people willing to make impact and donate their time to a meaningful cause. This thought originates from the people from my own YouthMappers chapter. At Texas Tech University, a public university strongly dominated by Texas residents, it is extraordinary to see what a diverse team my YouthMappers chapter has put together, with members who represent places not only across Texas and the United States but also countries such as Syria, Iran, Angola, El Salvador, Cuba and more.
In addition to the diverse backgrounds, another thing that I find distinctly unique about YouthMappers is the collaboration of so many departments and academic levels. Our officers range from undergrads in education to PhDs in Geosciences with everything in between. This type of collaboration and diversity is what I find to be one of the, if not the most important asset of the organization.
I also feel that what further sets the YouthMappers community apart is the strength in its network of global perspectives. With 27 YouthMappers chapter in 11 countries new perspectives and educational exchange have never been more accessible to all of us. Data is useless unless it can be verified and applied. Our network facilitates this by bringing together data-creating students with those who are home to the areas being plotted.
My experience has taught me the importance, impact and joy we can find in our work. YouthMappers showed me how we can amplify all of that through joining forces locally and globally. Because even more than all the many sources and technology available to us, it is the mappers and their community that can truly make a change.
Photos provided by Julia Kleine and Patricia Solís.