Not long ago I stated in my CV that I was a former troublemaker and now a problem solver, and being true to that, this year I embraced the opportunity to work at SPEAK as a software developer.
It feels good to work for an ambitious and innovative project using technology to create a positive impact in the world.
A challenging experience, not only because this would be my first job as a software developer, but also because I would be helping create a tool to spawn inclusive communities and promote understanding and acceptance of diversity.
A challenge indeed.
Joining cultures and sharing knowledge through technology
I always heard when learning how to code that:
“Great programmers find simple solutions to complex problems”.
SPEAK found a way to make that hard and complicated task of feeling welcomed in a new city in something truly achievable, thanks to the use of technology.
Operating in a model “online to offline”, a term used to describe a variety of e-commerce services providing online information to improve offline consumer experience, we developed an online portal through where it is possible for Buddies to help others learning the local language (or any other language they know well) in an informal environment, bringing participants together in the real world.
The main goal is actually allowing people to meet in the real-world as equals and create opportunities for them to build meaningful relationships.
To spark those experiences at SPEAK we created the portal where all the resources for the growth of the community are present.
Here Buddies can share learning materials with other participants; Ambassadors can create and promote events to get people together, all users can exchange ideas and tips in different discussions groups, where people support and help each other on topics like how to find an apartment when you are new to the city, how to access the national health system or new ideas on how to teach a language.
We made it possible for the users to share more than language learning materials. They can share pictures, stories, inspirational messages and also react with heart emojis to that. Sometimes words are not needed to just tell how happy we are to see a picture of a group of former strangers getting together to learn a new language :=) <3
The answer for growth is technology
Thanks to this platform SPEAK can now grow and reach new cities more easily. With all the tools already present online needing just a few but important offline, SPEAK is reaching new places and we are inviting people that share the same vision of a more inclusive community to embrace this project and to maximize its impact and economic sustainability across the world through our Take Speak to Your City program.
With growth, more challenges appear.
Scaling the project to reach more and more people could prove to be an issue and a small support team was not going to cut it. Again we reached out to technology to help us answer everyone’s questions or issues by adding the Help center. We have now predicted and organized, all the information users need, offering an easy way for them to access it or just to reach out to us.
We are now, more than always, there for our users, even if sometimes its just to share a carbonara recipe 🙂
To be true to my motto of being a problem solver, I’m using the power of technology to help SPEAK finding new ways to be more accessible and approachable to people of all backgrounds.
We are delivering every day new changes to the portal and making it always a bit more responsive either in a desktop or on a mobile. Our next step, just around the corner, is to create a SPEAK application, and with it new and improved resources and tools for our community.
Em parceria com o Alto Comissariado das Migrações (ACM), e com financiamento do Fundo para o Asilo, a Migração e a Integração (FAMI), o SPEAK está a apoiar a integração de migrantes e refugiados nos cursos de Português e eventos interculturais. No caso específico dos refugiados acolhidos em Portugal, para além da integração em cursos nas cidades SPEAK, têm sido ainda criados grupos específicos noutras áreas geográficas, com o apoio de voluntários locais capacitados com a metodologia SPEAK.