Lallab Sessions by Lydia Sun

On a crisp winter’s day in December, I found myself in the Redwood Shores Public Library, seated around a table with leaders and entrepreneurs. This set up concerned the Lallab – a space for learning about learning, entrepreneurship, and apprenticeship – and also GI’s next big project. I was actually gathered in that room twice that week, along with entrepreneurs Richard Lo and Daniel Huang, and depending on the day, other students my age (both from Girls Innovate! and from other schools in the Bay Area).

These sessions focused on discussing what worked and didn’t work for students under the current school system – and ultimately how students might learn about the way they, well, learn the best. Both Richard and Daniel had started programs designed to teach in a new way. For Richard, this was a post-college program called PreHack that taught grads the skills they needed to land their first jobs. Daniel was focused on tutoring high school students under his organization CoderCentral. Although they had different audiences, both entrepreneurs were interested in discovering more about how people learn.

Throughout the sessions, the groups were accompanied on different days by more experienced adults who had been working for years. These included Mukul Agarwal, Simon Ho, Chinam Kry, and Shariq Mansoor. It was fascinating to listen to their own anecdotes and experiences. Shariq offered some great insight on finding a job and working, and I found it reassuring to know that passion will get you farther than a fancy resume. Simon brought up an interesting point about education – he said that some people will want to talk about it, and some people won’t. He mentioned that he couldn’t be having this conversation with his own kids, and that got me thinking about what it would be like if I brought up education with my friends.

The sessions were quite a new experience for me, as I had never been in a meeting setting before. I remember being a bit surprised that Richard, Daniel, and his team members (Jerry, Brian, and Sidd) were so interested in hearing from the students (the TC members and the interns from Daniel’s tutoring center). I got a chance to share a bit about my own experiences in high school, and also about my extra curricular projects and activities. I was very eager to help them answer their questions, but I often had trouble articulating a thought. Hopefully, that will come in the future with practice.

The Lallab sessions gave me a chance to talk about something bigger than myself, and to meet other people who are just as interested in the topic, from all different ages and backgrounds. Now back in school after break, I’m thinking more about how I can make the most of my education, especially when I go to college in the fall of this year. I find myself noticing when teachers openly question our school or grading system. It’s becoming clear that perhaps more people are invested in education than is immediately obvious. And in order to start a dialogue, we need to include the community – parents, teachers, and students alike.

Lydia Sun