Confessions of a Teen Volunteer

By Julia Khan, Girls Innovate! Teen Committee Co-Chair

On September 19, 2013, I was blessed with the honor of helping to coordinate our Rapid-Fire Q&A with Sal Khan. I remember standing up at the front of the room, looking into the sea of happy faces as I began to speak. The trivial anecdotal speech I had prepared began flowing out of my mouth. I remember looking over at the founder of Khan Academy, a free online educational resource that has truly changed my life, and thinking, This is really happening. I’m doing this.

khan intro(1)

I am so incredibly grateful for what Girls Innovate! had allowed me to take part in; and for the way that so many young girls got the opportunity to stand up and ask questions about such integral parts of their lives.

Education has shaped so much of who I am, and I am positive it’s shaped the lives of every girl who got up to speak.

It was such an honor to speak to and learn from the man who has been a pivotal force in re-defining 21st century education. Here are some of the very interesting things Sal shared:

On traits he would look for in an intern

You need to be:

  • comfortable out of your comfort zone
  • open to learning new things and trying new things
  • diligent but creative and know how to have fun
  • someone who wants to grow into being a leader

On his style of engaging with others

I am very sensitive if someone talks down to me or try to intimidate me, or uses a tone that rubs me the wrong way. I try to find that common ground of talking at someone’s level respectfully but in a very clear way.

On what the folks in the room can do to support his mission

Everyone in this room is on the right track; what you can do is help empower others. You can be their coach. You can start clubs at your school around Khan Academy. You can use our tools to help others.

On AP materials 

We are working with Philips Andover (where AP courses were invented) to cover everything needed for the AP Calculus test. We will do the same for other subjects.

You can view all of the girls’ questions – and Sal’s answers – here.