Free Software Macedonia is a local organization from Macedonia that again helped spread the word about this year’s Google Summer of Code. Last year I was introduced to free software and eventually participated in the program after reading a blog post by one of the Free Software Macedonia members. The right information and the right timing can do wonders, especially for students that are enthusiastic about doing new things and getting some practical coding experience. Three students from Macedonia participated in last year’s Google Summer of Code, including me. This number and all the others I will present may seem small to you, but Macedonia is a very small country with approximately 2,000,000 citizens.
This year we wrote blog posts, organized a lecture at the biggest technical university in the country and filled the amphitheater, and held follow up sessions to introduce possible future participants in Google Summer of Code with the tools that are used by free software communities and share some knowledge with them. We also provided support for anyone who needed it along the way as well as a space for the students to work.
At the lecture at the university, the three students that participated last year all shared their experiences as well as tips and tricks for picking an organization and writing proposals. One of the senior members of Free Software Macedonia explained the concept of free software to those audience members who were unfamiliar with the term.
We have a hackerspace in Skopje, Macedonia called KIKA that we fund and manage ourselves, and it plays a big role in promoting these kind of programs. We had 20 students attend the follow up session where we showed the prospective students the basic tools needed to be successful in free software development such as mailing lists, bug tracking software, coding concepts, git etc. We installed Linux on the many machines and discussed projects with the students. KIKA is also a public space so it was open for students to come and work there during the application period and throughout the summer. The older and more experienced members are always a great support and can help the struggling coder to see the code from a different angle and eventually achieve success.
In the end, ten people from our sessions ended up applying for Google Summer of Code, and six, all of whom worked together to achieve this at KIKA, got in. You can see their smiling faces at the moment the emails arrived on the image (I am missing from the photo).
So, from just three people last year, we doubled that number this year and we hope to double our student participation again next year. We will continue spreading the word about the program, giving support to interested students and a place for the students to work. Many thanks to Google for giving us this great chance, and helping free software. I wish you a successful summer!
Editor’s note: There was an additional student from Macedonia who was also accepted into the program making the total number of Macedonian Google Summer of Code students for 2012 seven.
By Tamara Atanasoska, 2011 and 2012 Google Summer of Code student