Amazing Kids! Magazine

Amazing Kids! Interview with Christina Li

By Victoria Feng, Assistant Editor and AKOM Editor

 

Christina Li is the founder of Hello World, a free weeklong summer camp that aims to teach girls how to code. Being interested in programming herself, she set out to help others explore their dreams and pursue their passions. Her work has been featured on CNN, the White House, and Nickelodeon.

Amazing Kids (AK): What inspired you to start Hello World?

Christina Li (CL): I was inspired to start Hello World after participating in FIRST robotics/taking computer science classes and firsthand noticing a big gender gap. I’ve always been interested in engineering and computer science, so I started Hello World to introduce even more girls to these fascinating fields!

AK: What was the most challenging part of creating Hello World?

CL: The most challenging part was actually encouraging participants to sign up. It’s a pretty long program (5 days, 7 hours/day) during a week that’s supposed to be a break from school. However, the girls that did participate the first year surprised me with their enthusiasm. In the beginning, some girls weren’t too excited to be up early at 9 a.m. on a school break to learn coding, but at the end they were so excited to learn that they would return from lunch break early to work on their programs.

AK: After starting Hello World, have you noticed a change in girl STEM interest in your area?

CL: Since I’m at college 3,000+ miles away and the girls I’m teaching are in middle school, I don’t personally notice the changes in my area. However, I’ve had many emails from former girls saying that they’ve joined a FIRST robotics team and started taking more STEM classes!

AK: What inspired you to get into STEM?

CL: I was always interested in building things, putting together Legos, and just knowing more about how the world works. Even now, there’s just so much I don’t know about the world, and I just want to know as much as I can.

AK: What are you planning to do for this year’s camp?

CL: For Hello World, the girls would learn how to code apps, websites, games, and robots. They’ll also be attending talks from Google, Microsoft, GM, Ford, and—new for this year—SpaceX engineers. I unfortunately won’t be there in person, so I’ve selected some very qualified leaders to teach the camp in person!

AK: If you could change one thing in the world, what would you change?

CL: I would change income inequality. There are so many forms of inequalities in the world (racism, sexism, etc.), but I think one of the most difficult things to overcome is income inequality. If a family barely has the resources to feed their kids, school and education are a lot less of a priority understandably; and as a result, it’s harder to get out of that low-income situation. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, which is why it’d be the one thing I’d try to change first. Tech jobs have such high incomes, so I hope by making Hello World completely free (free lunches as well!), some kids who would not have this opportunity otherwise would perhaps find a new career option.

AK: What are your goals for the future?

CL: My immediate goals are just to graduate college and attend graduate school. I have a lot of goals for things I want to learn (CNC, CAD simulations, operating systems, PCB design, transistor-level chip design, etc.), and I’m slowly working toward all that while doing my normal classwork and extracurriculars. Other than that, I don’t really have a defined life goal, other than I just want to be happy and continue helping others.

AK: What advice would you give to our readers about following their dreams and making a difference?

CL: Always be curious about things and ask questions. Also, one huge thing is to reach out to people, even if you don’t think they’ll reply back. People are usually more willing to help than you’d think.

AK: Is there anything else you would like to add?

CL: Hello World website is tina98.github.io/HelloWorld, and my personal website is tina98.github.io!

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