Aditya Sidapara, 18, of Phoenix, Ariz., a senior at BASIS Scottsdale, co-founded an educational initiative that is teaching computer coding to students living in four refugee camps in East Africa, aiming to lift them out of poverty and help meet the worldwide demand for skilled software engineers. Aditya showed an early aptitude in programming and technology, building his first website when he was in third grade. Two years ago, he met two young men who were conducting coding workshops in refugee communities in the Phoenix area, and envisioned a full-fledged software vocational training program for refugee students. Together, they launched the Refugee Code Academy and began working to bring coding boot camps to refugee settlements in Tanzania, Malawi and Kenya.
“Millions of high-potential refugees live in atrociously impoverished communities, hindered from realizing their dreams through technology,” said Aditya. “Software engineering offers a dignified path for uplifting refugees from cyclical poverty and inspiring the next generation of regional and global innovators.” As a member of the academy team, Aditya has developed a curriculum for offline digital classes taught by local volunteer teachers, built relationships with local NGOs, recruited volunteer programmers, and forged relationships with U.S. firms that could mentor or employ refugee students who are able to emigrate from Africa. He also is working to augment his academy’s curriculum with virtual reality technology.