Make School is World First

As America closes off to the world, our doors open wider

Countries of origin of Make School students, alumni and staff

In 2013, when Make School was 3 people working from a living room, we hired a Syrian refugee for an iOS development contract. Kotaiba was months away from graduating college with a computer science degree before the government started firebombing his hometown Aleppo forcing his family to flee to Turkey.

We listened in awe as he shared his story over Skype, giving us a rare first-hand glimpse of life in a refugee camp that lacked basic amenities and running water. Despite facing unfathomable adversity and uncertainty, Kotaiba had a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eye as he demonstrated his unbridled passion for programming. That passion gave Kotaiba hope, a path for integration in a new country, and access to a sustainable livelihood.

Over the past five years, Make School has grown into an ecosystem and community for developers of all ethnicities, religions and identities. Students from 50 countries have attended our in-person programs, and students from 150 have learned from us online. This diversity drives creativity of thought, reveals new perspectives and makes our community rich.

Our community feels deeply hurt by the executive order barring refugees and citizens of seven countries from entering the US. The current administration’s actions represent a sharp departure from our country’s and our community’s core values.

Today, our community proudly stands with our Arab and Iranian sisters and brothers — those on our staff, those who come to America as students, and those who learn remotely. If we can no longer educate them in America we will educate them in their homes or elsewhere around the world. It is these very students that can be most empowered by computer science education to create impact in their communities.

In response to the executive order, we are building partnerships with STEM focused organizations in both the US and the Middle East. We’ll be working together to expand access to computer science education for Syrian refugees whose education has been interrupted. Second only to basic needs, acquiring in-demand skills is critical to the successful integration and long term livelihood of refugees. These skills enabled Kotaiba to secure a software development job in Istanbul, and with your help we can bring this opportunity to more refugees who are passionate about technology.

If you are interested in mentoring remotely or traveling to the Middle East this year to teach, please register your interest here.

The executive action and rhetoric championed by the new Administration is shortsighted. It sends a message to the world that our doors are closing to the hardworking, talented individuals who have historically uplifted our nation.

Starting with Kotaiba four years ago, we’ve frequently tried to bring high caliber engineers to the US to work or study at Make School. These engineers and students have had a profound impact on our community and enabled us to deliver a higher quality of education to Americans and Internationals alike. Unfortunately the process continues to become harder over time.

The new Administration’s perspective on immigration threatens to undermine our standing as the technology and innovation capital of the world. An America without immigrants is an America without the founders of Google, Apple, and Tesla and more than half our billion dollar startups. Our higher education system ranks first in the world thanks to visas that welcome academics and students from all countries. Simply put, immigrants and their descendants have throughout our history made America great.

In today’s times, it is more important than ever for our youth to understand and engage in our country’s politics. We plan to integrate civics and ethics deeper into our curriculum to bring greater awareness to our students. We hope to empower a new generation to make their voices heard and take action to create positive change.

Our doors will forever remain open to people of all ethnicities, religions and identities.

Ashu, Jeremy and the Make School Team