Gold Crown Field House
According to young music producer LaJay Diamond, the Computer Clubhouse helped him to discover a new interest in technology and a sense of pride and accomplishment that would have never seemed possible just a few years ago.
LaJay first started stopping by the Gold Crown Field House Computer Clubhouse in Lakewood, Colorado in 2004, when he was just 16 years old. His best friend, who was a Member, invited all his friends to check it out. "I remember that I was most attracted to the music studio," he says. "I wanted to learn more. The people were nice, and they helped me with my homework."
Before he got to the Clubhouse, LaJay used to listen to music and wonder how to make it, but he didn't think it would be possible. Once he was in the Clubhouse,
he gradually learned the art of producing music, from writing lyrics to creating a beat, to synthesizing all the elements together. The collaboration process also taught him many new skills. "Being at the Clubhouse gives you better people skills - talking, working together, organizing things, like the record label," he says. While he was producing music, his Clubhouse Coordinator, Adrian Collier, helped him connect his newfound interest with academia and helped him get scholarships to music school.
Through discussions with other Clubhouse Members and Mentors, LaJay began to think beyond the technology about the power of the music to transform the thoughts and opinions of people. So he resolved to put a positive spin on the music he produced, and created his own youth-run record label, 1 Way Records.
To date, LaJay has collaborated on several albums and given numerous live concerts around Colorado. He is currently attending Red Rocks Community College in Colorado and hopes to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston someday. He is taking piano lessons and music class, and also continues to produce CDs with his friends from the Clubhouse.
He still spends a lot of time at the Clubhouse, teaching others how to make music and explaining the steps he and his friends went through to start their own record label. He enjoys giving back to the Clubhouse and passing on what he has learned to other teens so that they can use the same skills to succeed. "If I hadn't come here, I probably wouldn't be making music," he says. "The Clubhouse gave me a lot of confidence - we always had open mikes and I was the only one who was really performing," he says. Hearing the applause and having people ask him for CDs and take a genuine interest in his music definitely pushed him, and made him realize he could achieve his dreams.
The support of Adrian and other Clubhouse staff and Members made a huge difference in LaJay's life. "My fondest memories of the Clubhouse are how supportive everyone was, the encouragement," he says. "If I heard that I would be where I am now back then, I would have laughed" he says. "It would have seemed impossible."
Mater Dolorosa Parish
Camille Layugan was initially overwhelmed when she walked into the Computer Clubhouse at the Mater Dolorosa Parish in 2002.
"Somebody was editing their photos into Superstar, and another group was making their own music video, while another Member was making a stunning graphic design!" she remembers. The fact that people around her were doing so many different things was intimidating at first. But the friendliness of the Clubhouse Members immediately eased her fears.
"They introduced themselves and they told me that I shouldn't be afraid because 'inside the Clubhouse,' they said 'we are a family.'" "I was very impressed by their talents, and soon, I discovered I too had a hidden talent - it was web design!"
Through the help of another Member, Camille learned the basics of Macromedia Dreamweaver. Being an obsessed fan of the cartoon Emily Strange, Camille used her creativity in both graphics animation and web design to make a fan site that now has over 1,000 registered members around the world. She became so proficient at web design that she was asked to lead a workshop on the subject. Camille also fell into a leadership role at the Clubhouse, assisting Clubhouse staff and helping to enforce Clubhouse policies.
Camille's favorite Clubhouse experience was the team-building seminar because she says "I learned how to deal with other people." Activities like that, she says, helped her to be bolder, smarter and a better person.
Camille was also a recipient of the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network Clubhouse-to- College/Clubhouse to-Career Scholarship, which helps Clubhouse alumni finance their studies. "Thanks to my scholarship, I could get a computer because for my whole life, I had never owned a computer!" she explains. "My parents work together in a small eatery to help me finish my desired courses. I want to do well for them. This scholarship really helped me and my family."
Camille is now pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. "In my younger years, I always wondered, 'who am I going to be when I grow up?'" she remembers. Although Camille's parents suggested she pursue a different career, she says, "I told them I was taking engineering not because it is in demand, but because I want to develop more of my skills, and I want to participate in a developing community in which innovation meets people."
Overall, the Computer Clubhouse taught Camille how to deal with other people and express herself, as well as find meaning in her career.
"I think if I hadn't gone to the Clubhouse, I wouldn't be on this Engineering course," she says. "I would have chosen something that would be 'just' a career, rather than something that could lead to a meaningful life."
When he was 17, Magan Magan’s friend invited him to visit the Fitzroy Computer Clubhouse in Victoria, Australia. Magan didn’t use computers a lot, and although he originally thought the Clubhouse was for younger kids, he decided to give it a try.
Fitzroy Computer Clubhouse
He was a bit shy the first time he walked through the doors of the Clubhouse, but he remembers instantly “clicking” with the Clubhouse Coordinator. He liked the laid back atmosphere and the fact that Members could work on whatever interested them. “It wasn’t just about sitting in front of the computer screen,” he remembers thinking, “You could just go and talk to the Coordinator and your friends about anything.”
As someone who was already focused with his schoolwork, Magan used the tools of the Clubhouse to take his school projects to an exciting new level. For example, instead of presenting his essays in written text, he could now bring them to life with visuals created at the Clubhouse with Photoshop and PowerPoint.
Thinking back to why he kept coming to the Clubhouse week after week, Magan can see how his day-to-day activities there gradually propelled him to where he is today. “It may seem that you just come here to do your assignment, but you’ll meet and talk to people who know stuff who can get you places, help with career pathways and education,” he explains.
When he first came to the Clubhouse, Magan was interested in higher education, but he wasn’t sure what to do first. Clubhouse staff, Members and Mentors talked to him about his goals. Then he enrolled in the Clubhouse-to-College/Clubhouse-to-Career (C2C) program where Members can gain job-related skills and participate in academic planning. In 2007, Magan was awarded the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network C2C Scholarship. That award, he says, “really opened my eyes to the fact that I can get things that I apply and try for.”
Magan completed high school and has begun a certification program in science at Victoria University. He was also accepted into a Bachelor Degree program in Health Science at the Australian College of Natural Medicine. He is excited and optimistic about the future. After completing his current degree he would like to do further study and complete a degree in Lab Medicine. Eventually, Magan looks forward to owning a clinic that offers a variety of medical treatments.
Although he acquired great software skills at the Clubhouse and it helped him in school, he considers what he learned from the other people in the Clubhouse to be just as important. “Previously, I wouldn’t have known how to go about talking to new people – now, although I’m still not perfect, I’m a lot better.”
Magan remains actively involved in the Clubhouse as an alumnus and Mentor, and sometimes speaks at events on behalf of the Clubhouse.
The Bernalillo Public Schools Clubhouse
When LoriLei Chavez’ high school intercom announced, "Go to the Computer Clubhouse after school – you can use the computers for free!", she found out about a new place on campus that would change her life forever.
Like many young people living in the Santo Domingo Pueblo and other pueblos in New Mexico, Lori didn’t have a computer at home. She couldn’t believe a place existed on campus where she could print for free, and that there was even transportation back to her Pueblo after school. “They make it easy for us to use the equipment,” she explains. “It’s kind of an oasis of technology in the desert.”
The Bernalillo Public Schools Clubhouse provided Lori with a safe haven to work on projects, make friends, and learn new skills. “Without the Clubhouse here, I don’t think there would be anywhere like it to go.” Clubhouse staff and Mentors also made a big difference to Lori, especially Clubhouse Coordinator Dave Lepre. “Dave is such a great advisor; he keeps people coming back,” Lori says. “He goes the extra mile to make sure we feel welcome.”
Lori visited the Clubhouse all through high school, working on class projects and learning new computer programs, such as Photoshop. She created a presentation for a home-made Biotelemeter -- a pill-shaped device that she constructed to measure temperatures through radio waves. More advanced Biotelemeters are used to measure vital statistics for people with health problems who live in rural areas. Through the American Indian Engineering and Science Program she entered her project in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2006 and won a grand prize.
As a senior now, Lori has been studying the field of engineering for 4 years and will enter New Mexico State’s Mechanical Engineering program this fall. She wants to be the first woman in her family to get a PhD. However, she thinks she’ll be coming home a lot on the weekends, to visit her family and the Clubhouse.
“I always like to give back to my community,” Lori says. “We are many races and ethnicities – Native Americans, Hispanics,” she says. “Not everybody is alike; every individual is different. And the Clubhouse embraces this diversity. It is warm, with open doors. It is heartfelt, fun, and exciting.”
As a senior Clubhouse Member, Lori mentors other youth and encourages them to look at all possibilities for their education and careers. “The Clubhouse encouraged me to keep looking for resources: looking and looking.” It connected her to resources she never would have known were available, and it was the place where she formed many of her fondest high school memories, all while working toward her goal of becoming a top engineering candidate at a great university.
Flagship Computer Clubhouse
As a child, Nancy Douyon, says, “I wanted to be different” from other people. At first she wanted to be a doctor. “Now I want to be an engineer because I’m able to design things in my own unique way, with my own ideas. The Clubhouse made me unafraid to make mistakes and try new things.”
Nancy first came to the Flagship Computer Clubhouse at the Museum of Science in Boston in 1998, on “Girls’ Day,” a weekly program where girls can create independent or supported projects that reflect their own unique personal interests.
“The only thing I really knew how to do was disable a computer!” she jokes. But Nancy’s Girls’ Day experiences have profoundly shaped her future. The program made her realize there were options for women in technology she hadn’t considered. She started spending afternoons at the Clubhouse mastering graphic design and video editing programs like Adobe Photoshop and Premiere. She recorded a video on drugs for a health class and made a web page using Dreamweaver. Girls’ Day staff and Mentors played a big part in helping her discover her talents and build her confidence and skills. “The Clubhouse really showed me what I was capable of doing and helped me get started.”
The Clubhouse has had a big personal impact on Nancy’s life and has also helped her through some challenging emotional times. In her mid-teens Nancy lost her family and was placed in foster care for all of high school. She moved from home to home. Because of all the things going on in her life, she wasn’t doing well in school. Every time she had a problem or was struggling, Clubhouse friends and Mentors gave her support. “Brenda Abanavas (the Girls’ Day Manager) helped me be a woman about it. She taught me that I have a choice. I realized I could mope around and do nothing, and I saw other people doing that. But that’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to keep coming here and developing my skills, and decided I was just going to keep coming to the Clubhouse.”
Nancy’s confidence grew with her experiences at the Clubhouse. She became a technology coordinator at the YWCA, landed a job at the Museum, and eventually began to lead workshops for Girls’ Day, which uncovered a unique talent she had for public speaking. Participating [in] and eventually leading workshops for Girls’ Day taught me how to present. I started out shy, but I love public speaking now.”
Nancy will be graduating in May 2008 with a dual degree in sociology and business administration in information systems from Suffolk University. She works part-time at Harvard University as an Information Systems Auditor, and will be working at Intel this summer. She was recently awarded a GEM (National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science) Fellowship and is currently weighing her options for graduate school.
Nancy has many interests when it comes to her future. “I want to be a speaker and a leader in what I do. Right now I’m working on anything that applies sociology and technology skills. But I don’t want to stay in a cubicle. I’m interested in changing society, and have interests in urban planning, media, and art… lots of different things!”
While the future seems vast and almost indefinable for Nancy, she is able to define what has brought her to where she is today-- the support and relationships that she has formed through the Girls’ Day Program at the Computer Clubhouse. “I made a lot of friends and connections with people in the Clubhouse. I have friends for life there, Mentors for life.”
Zabota Computer Clubhouse
Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Ludmila found out about the Computer Clubhouse before it even existed. She and her mother both worked for the Zabota organization when they learned that Zabota would be involved in running a new Clubhouse in Nizhny Novgorod. In October 2005, with the help of approximately 15 local companies, the Computer Clubhouse opened its doors. “I was very happy to take part at the opening of the Clubhouse,” says Ludmila, who was 15 years old at the time. “I was very surprised when I saw the Clubhouse for the first time, because I had never seen such a computer club in Russia.”
Ludmila was a Member and frequent visitor of the Zabota Clubhouse for about 2 years. “Before I began coming to the Clubhouse I used a computer for my schoolwork, but the Clubhouse helped me to use the computer to express myself.” One of the programs that Ludmila particularly enjoyed learning was Photoshop. She used the tools in this program to express herself in a project that demonstrated her vision of Nizhny, and the project was displayed at the Artistic Museum in Nizhniy Novgorod.
Ludmila continues to work with Photoshop as a hobby in the photography club of at the Higher School of Economics, the university where she is presently studying to become a lawyer. She was able to gain entry to this school, in part, she says, because of her participation in the 2006 Teen Summit. “I am very grateful to the Clubhouse that I visited the USA and took part in the 2006 Teen Summit.” “The Clubhouse helped me to enter [the University], because much attention is paid to the IT-technologies and English.”
The Zabota Clubhouse has also helped Ludmila meet new friends and different people. “I became more sociable at the Clubhouse; I learned to associate with different people of different characters.” Ludmila emphasizes that her experience at the Clubhouse gave her the opportunity to realize her potential. “I think it is very important nowadays, because in my opinion there are no people without talent. You should only find it [your potential] and try to develop it. The Computer Clubhouse gives us this opportunity.”
Ludmila says that if it were not for Clubhouse, she would not have learned about some of the computer programs, but more importantly, she says that the Clubhouse remains “a place where you always will be understood. If you need to make a decision, people in the Clubhouse will always be ready to help you and give you advice.”
Flagship Computer Clubhouse
Steve Osemwenkhae is a web, graphic design, clothing, and photography artist. He also owns his own business where he showcases artists online, at www.simplyoutstanding.com. He is a UMass Boston graduate with a degree in graphic and web design who found his true passion for art at the Computer Clubhouse.
Steve became a Member of the very first Computer Clubhouse in Boston when he was just 16 years old. He wasn’t into the Clubhouse at first. “One of my friends forced me to come.” He says, “I wanted to stay home and watch TV.”
When he got to the Clubhouse Steve had a hard time imagining using a computer for anything but games. “I thought the creative stuff was boring; for geeks,” he says. Eventually his friend stopped forcing him to come and he stopped going. But, he came back a few weeks later to use the Clubhouse’s Internet, which he didn’t have at home. That’s when the Clubhouse Manager sat him down and said, “You’re capable of doing more!” As he became more involved with using computers to scan and color his sketches, his talent was obvious. He developed a command of Illustrator and Flash animation, expanding to photography and videography.
That, Steve says, is when “I got really into the Clubhouse. I got familiar with the other Members and the Mentors, and it was like a big family. My experience there made me more interactive with people. It’s not only a great place for learning but for networking with great people while having fun.”
One of Steve’s favorite activities was having drawing contests with the Mentors. He loved to draw in high school, but wanted to be a computer engineer and study science in college instead of getting an art degree. He went to college, and after a couple of years of trying to find himself, Mentors helped him realize he wanted to be a graphic designer or artist. “The Clubhouse helped me to see that in a better light,” he says.
“The Clubhouse keeps kids from the street and opens up new worlds,” says his father, Paul Osemwenkhae. “It brightened Steve’s life and knowledge. He’s changed a lot.” When the Clubhouse won the 1997 Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation, Steve was one of those representing the Clubhouse at the awards ceremony. When Intel became title sponsor of the Clubhouse Network in 2000, he was a featured speaker with Senator Ted Kennedy, Intel CEO Craig Barrett and actor-performer Sinbad. “I couldn’t believe it. My son talked like a man,” said Paul Osemwenkhae.
Although he is busy with his own business, Steve still finds time to be involved with the Clubhouse. Recently Steve was a featured guest at the Clubhouse alumni table at the 2008 Teen Summit Career Fair. He says, “I used to be lonely. Now I’m happy living my life. I like working with people, helping them. It doesn’t matter what age. It’s fun.”
Neve Yosef Computer Clubhouse
Sagi Sabag is 22 years old, an alumnus of the Neve Yosef Computer Clubhouse in Haifa, Israel, and is recognized for his leadership in the Clubhouse and contributions to the community.
When he was a Clubhouse Member, the Clubhouse Coordinator described Sagi in this way: “Ever since the Clubhouse first opened, Sagi has been a leading figure among the Members. With his devotion to his studies, community work, and dedication to help all those around him, Sagi has become a role model for all ages.”
Sagi was chosen to attend the 2002 Teen Summit as a youth ambassador. The Teen Summit is a biennial event where Clubhouse youth with outstanding leadership skills and technical and creative abilities are invited to Boston, Massachusetts to represent their communities. This experience at the Teen Summit had a great impact on Sagi. It was the first time that he traveled abroad, and visiting America was a tremendous experience. At the Summit, he met colleagues from around the world with mutual interests, created stop action animation, and built projects, understanding more thoroughly the essence of the Clubhouse. All of these experiences had a profound effect on him. Sagi returned from the Teen Summit with a renewed sense of interest in the Clubhouse and a new sense of motivation toward sharing his own knowledge with other Members.
In 2004, Sagi continued to pursue his commitment toward his own future by applying for and winning a Clubhouse-to-College scholarship. The scholarship enabled him to partially finance his studies at Ort Kiryat Bialik College, where he eventually earned his diploma in electric engineering.
Sagi is presently completing his service for the Israeli army. In 2007 he was asked to join the staff at the Neve Yosef Computer Clubhouse as the Assistant Coordinator. And as fate would have it, the Mentors at the Clubhouse who originally helped him through his teen years are now his closest friends and colleagues.
Regarding the Clubhouse, he says, “I believe that the time we spend together is quality time. I am aware of the power and responsibility that comes with it, of my ability to effect change in the lives of people younger than me. I try to give kids the belief that they are in control of their future, that they have the ability to effect change and be leaders.”
YWCA Miami Computer Clubhouse
Lissette first discovered the Clubhouse at the age of 14. She was already a frequent visitor of the local YWCA, but she was interested in the computers and says that “the state-of-the-art software” was something that drew her in. Even at age 14, Lissette knew she wanted to work with computers.
The fact the Clubhouse was close to home kept Lissette coming, and she says that she felt comfortable working with the Mentors who were from diverse places, and who made her feel at home.
Lissette started out learning Microsoft Paint. “Photoshop was frustrating, so I decided I’d get back to it later,” she remembers. Eventually she also mastered Photoshop and worked on many graphic design projects. By the time she was 16, Lissette had become a junior Mentor at the Clubhouse, and was also elected Clubhouse president. At the same time, she helped out with other events at the YWCA like family days and picnics. “I learned some leadership skills, social skills, and how to work on a team,” she says. For her hard work, she earned an award from the YWCA staff, and the same year received an amazing opportunity, to attend the 2006 Computer Clubhouse Teen Summit in Boston.
“I had fun!” she remembers, recalling her first trip outside her home state of Florida. “I met a lot of new people from all over the world. For the first two days I kept to myself, but then I came out of my shell. I was the first act in the talent show and performed a poem. I met a girl from Israel and we became friends. It was also boiling and there was no air conditioning!”
Experiences like the Teen Summit’s career fair, as well as support from her mentors, helped Lissette envision where and what she could and would like to study in college. The summer before Teen Summit, through the Clubhouse-to-College/Clubhouse-to-Career Program, she was also able to visit different universities. “This made me believe it was realistic to go to college,” she says. Rounding out that experience, Lissette received the Clubhouse to College/Clubhouse to Career Scholarship in 2007, which made college a financial possibility.
Today, Lissette attends Miami Dade College, where she is earning her Associate Arts Degree in Commercial Graphic Arts. She plans to continue her studies toward earning a Bachelor’s degree in graphic arts. Her future is bright with the focus, tools, and rich experiences she attributes, in large part, to the Clubhouse.
Lissette still comes back to help mentor others at the Clubhouse when she can, and becomes animated and enthusiastic when asked why a young person should come to the Computer Clubhouse. “You can learn how to make music, learn to be a producer and make your own beats,” she says. “If you’re into architecture, there’s stuff for you. If you’re into video editing, I can tell you about the programs the Clubhouse has and how fun it is!”
Southeast Family YMCA
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Denise Tillman found out about the Computer Clubhouse when she was 13 years old. At the time she was already interested in electronics. That was six years ago. Denise says she wasn’t used to seeing so many computers, back then. “I’d try to come at least three days a week.” When she wasn’t involved in sports, Denise says she was “pretty much always at the Clubhouse.”
Denise quickly learned how to use many of the programs available at the Clubhouse. She mastered Photoshop, she learned how to make flyers with Illustrator, and she signed on to the Clubhouse Village, a web tool that links Clubhouse Members around the globe in an online community. “I made a resume…I made a slide show, and a video about Julius Caesar.”
One of the applications that she remembers working on was Adobe Premiere, a video editing software. “We made a movie using the hand-held Intel video camera, and we added special effects. At the end, we added little credits and stuff. It was really cool.” She also used the Clubhouse music studio for making beats and music tracks with her friends, which she also describes as “really cool.” “When you do things that you like or love, you tend to have more fun doing it.”
Denise is presently at Intellitec College in Colorado Springs studying automotive mechanics, and intends to complete her studies in about 18 months. She wants to be an automotive technician, but says this decision became clearer during her time as a Clubhouse Member. “I definitely explored my interest in cars at the Clubhouse. I looked up different colleges, I made a car in Bryce 3D, and I made a Flash movie with a racing car.”
She says that the Computer Clubhouse has also definitely helped her in other areas of her life. Today she works around 25 hours a week as the Clubhouse Assistant, providing technical and other kinds of support to Members as well. “If I can’t figure it out, I have somebody help me, or one of the kids who’s interested.” When asked what she will remember most about the Clubhouse, Denise says “the kids, the teens. I’ll remember them most. Hopefully they’ll take with them what they learn here. They make me laugh, every day.”
Cedes Don Bosco
Alajuelita, Costa Rica
Jimmy was always interested in technology. From when he was a young boy, he would take apart cars, put together circuits, and try to understand the mechanisms of wheels and gears.
Then one day he found what he calls “a marvelously designed room with computers.” The room was “very distinctive, pretty, and organized, and there were only a few kids there.” But something bigger caught his attention: LEGO Mindstorms and an adult making a car out of LEGOs. “I was blown away because LEGOs were my favorite toy and I used them constantly to make new things.”
Since that first day in the Clubhouse, Jimmy has taken advantage of all that the Clubhouse has to offer. With the help of the Clubhouse staff, Jimmy quickly learned the software to design graffiti. He also learned how to develop robots with LEGOs, including automatic cars, bridges, insects, quadripeds, a robot that could cross a rope side-by-side with its four fingers, and his favorite, a lazy monkey.
Jimmy proudly talks about meeting MIT’s Mitchel Resnick, one of the founders of the Computer Clubhouse program, during a visit to Cedes Don Bosco a few years ago. The two corresponded by email and met subsequently back at MIT during the 2006 Teen Summit. Resnick was able to connect Jimmy to Robbie Berg, a Wellesley College physics professor who sent him a programmable brick that he used to construct more complete robots with embedded sensors and electronic circuits. The relationship with Resnick has profoundly affected Jimmy, who sees his future clearly in robots and technology.
Jimmy says that many more things were given to him through the Clubhouse: technology, knowledge, friends, and cooperation. “Without a doubt, the Clubhouse has marked my life. I have achieved surprising things thanks to it and thanks to the infinite love of God, which I have present in all that I do. Also, thanks to my parents too for giving me the opportunity to study, and to Colegio Don Bosco for starting the Clubhouse, which has given fantastic opportunities to young people.”
Jimmy is now 21 years old and an electronics technician. He has completed one year toward a Mechanical Engineering degree. His dream is to study robotics, and to continue creating, imagining, designing and studying hard every day. He presently volunteers as a Clubhouse mentor, “so that one day other young people can use their creativity and take off to fly with all the tools that the Clubhouse gives them, which is what,” he says, “happened to me.”
Jaleesa Trapp was in middle school when her mom and aunt first took her to the Clubhouse. “I remember the Coordinator, Miss Luversa, telling us about different projects people were working on,” she explains about her first visit. “She paired us with people who had been there longer, and they showed us different things.”
One of the first projects Jaleesa enjoyed was distorting people’s faces with a program called Goo. However, over the years her use of technology became much more sophisticated, as she learned to use Photoshop and Director to create and edit film. These new skills increased her motivation in schoolwork and helped Jalessa express herself in new ways. “In 9th grade, I had an English project on Romeo and Juliet,” she remembers. “My teacher made a list of options and left the last one blank, saying you could come up with your own project.” Jaleesa made an interactive CD-ROM.
Before Girls’ Day (a Clubhouse gender equity program) began at the Tacoma Clubhouse, Jaleesa remembers the limitations that some girls felt there: “One day, Miss Luversa pulled people to the back, and she was taking the computer apart and telling us the different parts of the computer,” she remembers. “She said if you’re not interested, you could leave, and I was the only girl left in the group. Once she started the [Girls’ Day] program, I was more comfortable. Girls didn’t feel intimidated by the guys. It made it a better environment to work in.”
With her Girls’ Day peers, Jaleesa worked on some wonderful projects. One of them was a music video they created to honor the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education (the United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision desegregating public schools). “We made up a song, wrote it down, recorded it, and a guy in the music studio made the beat for us. We presented it at Evergreen State College, and they asked us to come back and perform it twice!”
Through the Clubhouse, Jaleesa participated in the Blacks at Microsoft Minority Student Day Contest, where she won second place, a computer, and $1,500. After her junior and senior year of high school, she became a technical writing intern for this same program, and the internship helped her choose a career path. “I like seeing how people use things and how they can be made better. Now I want to be a usability engineer,” she says.
Jalessa has just completed her second year as an engineering student at the University of Washington; however, her social life is still intertwined with the Clubhouse. “Most of my friends now are still from the Clubhouse. Those who are younger and still in high school will call and see if they can come visit. I’ve had a few of them come stay with me in the dorms to see what college is like. I make sure that they do their homework!”
Juan Sebastian Mendez
Suba Compartir Computer Clubhouse
Juan was17 when he became a Member of the Suba Compartir Computer Clubhouse in Bogotá. At the time he says he was only using computers for homework at school. “I didn’t have a computer at my home, I was able to use one only in the classrooms with a very slow connection to Internet, and I usually had to share one computer with another person.”
Once he learned what the Clubhouse had to offer, Juan says he “became a technology fan in all areas. I began to work with Flash, Photoshop and Premiere, and it was the first step to let me know myself.” Learning the Adobe-Macromedia suite would later help him create presentations in college and think about designing solutions to problems on the computer. “I will remember always the way I learned in the Clubhouse, it was amazing, I didn’t even know that I was learning…”
Juan is presently in his third year working toward a degree in Computing Engineering, and says he is “very happy to know that I chose what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” He plans to integrate his knowledge of computer software by creating his own software and media enterprise, formed with some of the individuals that he worked with in the Clubhouse.
“I am so glad about all the people that I meet in the Clubhouse,” Juan says.
“The Clubhouse has changed my life in all aspects. When I became a Member, I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the future, I didn’t know what I was good for, and most importantly, the quality of the friendships that I found there is good enough that I’m thinking to work in the future with people that I met there.”
Juan says that he has a second family in the Clubhouse, and that in many respects the foundation of his life was formed there. He emphasizes, however, that it isn’t what he learned at the Clubhouse that stands out for him, but the way he learned it. “I don’t think that the strength of the Clubhouse is the programs (but they are very important),” he says. “The strong part is how the community is a network of learning. I haven’t been able to find another place like that.”
Shatha Al Hmoud
Princess Basma Youth Resource Center
Shatha began going to the Clubhouse in Amman, Jordan four years ago, when she was just 15 years old. “The Clubhouse Coordinator came to my school and told a group that included my friend about the Clubhouse.”
Shatha started going every day, because the Clubhouse was full of children her own age and there were a lot of new programs to learn. At the Clubhouse, Shatha learned how to draw, create her own digital photography, and use Macromedia Flash. She even learned how to edit movies and made her own short film. Her favorite project was a piece of photojournalism that Shatha completed during her last year in high school.
Shatha lists the many accomplishments that she attributes to her association with the Clubhouse. “After going to the Clubhouse, I can give my opinion. I am confident. The Coordinator, my Mentors, and my family encouraged me. They allowed me to go there whenever I wanted. Some wouldn’t let their daughters have this freedom.”
It also affected her decisions. After she finished her studies, she thought to study photography. “I want to develop. I found in myself many new things. I want to reach my goals, achieve my goals. I have lots of energy – I can use it in a lot of things. The Clubhouse has made all of this possible. I would surrender easily before. I learned you can be what you want to be, not what other people want.”
Shatha won a Clubhouse-to-College/Career scholarship and now is in her second year at Muth University, studying marketing. She volunteers at the Clubhouse and remembers the impact that the Members and Coordinator had on her by giving back to the Clubhouse and providing that same inspiration to others as a Mentor.
“Mentors and coordinators helped me to be the person I am now. I want to encourage the younger members to change personalities, to do what they want, to make their dreams come true. I see they are happy and smiling. It just takes a few good words about how their project is wonderful. They’ll never forget those kind words, they’ll never forget it.
“Last week I was thinking about how life would be different without the Clubhouse, because Queen Rania visited. I remember that first day she came [to the Clubhouse, for the grand opening]. My life would be very different – I would be like anyone else – just go from school to college to work. Now I am volunteering, which is really great. “
“After school me and my friends would walk 15 blocks from school straight to the Clubhouse and stay there all day,” says 22-year-old Freedom Reign, as he reflects on his first days in a Computer Clubhouse in California. “The Clubhouse kept us involved in positive things rather than all the other things we could get into after school. And our Coordinator did everything he could to make sure we got the most out of that Clubhouse.”
Unlike many of the kids in the neighborhood, Freedom joined the Clubhouse with a solid foundation in music software and graphic design. “My father had already taught me a lot of these skills, and so he informed me that a technology center was opening in the community and I should establish myself as a peer-leader.”
That was 7 years ago. From that point on, Freedom says he “was usually at the Clubhouse all day, 5 days a week... I’m still at the Computer Clubhouse all day everyday,” he says. His areas of interest are web design, game design, 3D modeling and animation. He uses these valuable skills every day at work and on projects. What began as “peer leadership,” encouraged by his father, was nurtured by the Clubhouse environment, and naturally grew into a junior mentorship, which led to an Assistant Coordinator position at the East Palo Alto Clubhouse. Eventually Freedom was offered the job as Clubhouse Coordinator in Hayward.
“When you first come to the Clubhouse you’re just thinking about what you can get out of it,” says Freedom. But being encouraged to share his knowledge and pass on his skills was empowering to Freedom, and it brought out leadership qualities in him that he had not previously had an opportunity to demonstrate. “People kept telling me “you should be a Junior Mentor,” so I became a Junior Mentor. As a Member I learned how to be a leader and teacher to my peers, while excelling myself to new heights. As an adult it has helped me to remain humble and give the same opportunity to the forthcoming Members.”
Freedom finds that it’s not a difficult job to encourage young people to dream and create in the Clubhouse –Everyone has an imagination, and in the Clubhouse, young people are free to explore unlike anywhere else. “Sometimes if they are stuck, I’ll tell them: Forget entirely about the notion of learning. If you had a dream job, what would you be doing? Sometimes, we’ll start building with LEGOs – that will usually start something.”
During the closing ceremony of the most recent Teen Summit, Freedom gave some inspiring remarks that summarize his respect for Clubhouse Members and his passion for his work in the Clubhouse. He said “Coordinators, I want you to thank the Members for establishing themselves as peer leaders and for coming to the Clubhouse to work even after a long school day and for continuing to push out creative work. Members, I want you to thank your Coordinators for showing up and for being positive and passionate about their work.” For Freedom, the Clubhouse is about passionately working with kids he loves and, as he says, “making all of our dreams come true.”
Youth Development Inc.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
“Wow, this is pretty neat!” Those were 15-year-old Alicia’s first thoughts of her visit to the YDI Computer Clubhouse in Albuquerque. Alicia, or “Lecy” as she is known by some, had found out about the Clubhouse through her younger sister Selene and YDI’s Stay in School program.
“I thought it was pretty neat how the kids would work together using their creativity, and some of the other resources to come up with a project that would blow your mind. And they would manage to improve their computer skills at the same time.” Prior to being exposed to the Computer Clubhouse, Alicia says she was pretty knowledgeable about computers. “I had some computer skills, but I had never had skills in the art and graphics side of a computer. I’ve actually developed better skills in Photoshop and that has been one of my favorite programs.”
“On a typical week I would come about 5 or 6 days a week during my high school years. Once I started college I started coming about 3 days a week. But now I’m the coordinator, so I’m always there.” (Alicia is now the Clubhouse Coordinator of YDI, which, she says is “awesome.”)
One of Alicia’s favorite memories of the Clubhouse is the Teen Summit, a biennial gathering of Clubhouses from all over the world. “I was there for the Teen Summit 2006…It was just a great opportunity and amazing event. I got to know so many people from different backgrounds. The most amazing part was even though not everyone spoke the same language and could not communicate well, we all spoke the language of technology and we spoke through that.”
Alicia is a strong supporter of the Clubhouse to College/Clubhouse to Career (C2C) program, which helps Clubhouse Members explore real professional jobs and academic opportunities so that they are prepared with skills and opportunities to transition to the next step in their career or education. Alicia sees that the C2C program provides real encouragement and support to young people who really need it. “The C2C program has really inspired some of my kids. Some kids don’t think they can go to college and like I told them, I believe in them, and they have to believe in themselves too. Nothing is impossible.”
Alicia is currently studying to be a Pharmacist at Central New Mexico Community College. She says that the Computer Clubhouse influenced her in that it helped her find what she was interested in, and what her strong points and weak points were, and how to follow her inspirations, admirations and dreams. “So far it has been a total of 5 years I have been involved with the Clubhouse, whether it be as a Member, Mentor and now Coordinator.
“The best thing about the Computer Clubhouse is the fact that we can explore and create together and enjoy ourselves. The Clubhouse has been a safe haven for me and I see that it’s still a safe haven for many of my Members. I see that the Clubhouse serves a great need [in the community], because of the infinite number of opportunities and possibilities. It proves that nothing is impossible.”
Angel Medina Garcia
It was a high school project that first brought 15-year-old Angel Garcia to the Planetario Clubhouse. But Angel was under the assumption that he was going to the library. “When I arrived, I encountered a confusing surprise.” Instead of books, Angel found a room filled with computers, walls for displaying artwork, a music studio, “a big green table, and the smell of newness and excitement. I was completely confused and so were my friends.”
Once it was explained what the Clubhouse was,“I was so enthusiastic that it was scary,” said Angel. “The Clubhouse Coordinator explained that this is completely free, you only need to become a Member and that’s it! We kept talking and I kept thanking him. My imagination was going into overdrive, as I couldn’t imagine a place like this could be free.”
“So that’s how I went into the Computer Clubhouse the first time, without really realizing what it was all about.” Once he started going, Angel says that’s when he couldn’t quit. “If I don’t have commitments throughout the week I come every week.”
Now Angel uses programs that handle design, audio and video. His favorites are Flash, Photoshop, Premiere, AcidPro, Dreamweaver, Cool Edit, Movie Maker, Illustrator, and OpenOffice. He has a basic fluency in all of these; however, others might describe Angel as a “genius” in Flash.
For one of his projects, Angel created a screen saver clock in Flash called “Reloj ò Clock” and even posted instructions for the project on the Clubhouse Village so that other Clubhouse Members would know how to create a similar project. In fact, Angel and his sister, Marilú, who is also very talented, are known as the “Flash Siblings,” and the two have even traveled to the Faro de Oriente Clubhouse in Mexico City to lead a Flash workshop there.
Angel is currently working on completing some Clubhouse projects and finishing his studies so that he can get a license in design. And despite his mastery of his favorite programs at the Clubhouse, Angel says that the thing he values most about his experiences there are the relationships and interactions with the staff, Mentors and the other Members.
“The Clubhouse is made by the people, not the technology or the materials,” he says. Angel adds that all his projects “have been inspired by people and circumstances within and outside the Clubhouse...sad and happy, inspiring or discouraging. The influence the Clubhouse has had on my decisions, both personal and professional…is huge. I can not imagine my life without the Clubhouse.”