One letter stuck out in the stack of applications from people with well-polished resumes applying for the Paris Summer Innovation Fellowship.
Eva, a 10-year-old girl, applied to the program in the hopes of receiving mentorship so that she could build a special kind of robot: one to make the streets of Paris “happy again.”
“The streets of Paris are sad. I want to build a robot that will make them happy again,” a summary of her application posted to Facebook read. “I’ve already starting learning how to code on Thymio robots, but I have trouble making it work. I want to join the program so the mentors can help me.”
Here’s her perfect response to Eva:
The answer is yes. You have been selected as one of Paris’ first-ever Summer Innovation Fellows among an impressive pool of candidates from all across the world: accomplished urban designers, data scientists and hardware specialists. I love your project and agree that more should be done–through robotics or otherwise–to improve Paris’ streets and make them smile again.
I am writing to you personally because your application inspired me. There was nothing on the website that said the program was open to 10 year olds but–as you must have noticed–nothing that said that it was not. You’ve openly told us that you had trouble making the robot work on your own and needed help. That was a brave thing to admit, and ultimately what convinced us to take on your project. Humility and the willingness to learn in order to go beyond our current limitations are at the heart and soul of innovation.
It is my hope that your work on robotics will encourage more young girls all over the world–not just to code, but to be as brave as you, in asking for help and actively looking for different ways to learn and grow. More good news: I wrote to Thymio, the robotics company whose tech you use and asked if they could designate a specialist to personally help you. They have decided that that person will be their President himself. They will also be providing you their latest robot.
Welcome aboard our spaceship, Eva. We’re very much looking forward to meeting you in person.
All the best from Paris,
Founding Partner, Five by Five
Please ask your dad to call me :)
And, by the looks of the Facebook comments to follow, Eva’s father did get ahold Borlongan:
Eva already started learning how to code and working with her own robot, you can see the blog she keeps here.