top of page
Search
  • Open Dreams

An Epoch to not forget - Djimi Josias

I landed in Cameroon on January 3rd, 2023, after spending about 3 days in India (and about a day in Ethiopia in transit). I had just participated in the most epic hackathon of my life so far. It was an elevating experience for me as well — being outside my home country for the first time, alone and being the only black among 100+ participants. This is an overview of my experience which will hopefully be inspiring as well.


This hackathon was covered by HackClub. Before we jump right into the subject matter, let me introduce you to what a hackathon is.


- According to HackClub, “A hackathon is a social coding marathon where teenagers come together to build projects in a short amount of time and share them with the world". HackClub is essentially a community of teenage hackers who come together and build projects for the joy of coding. Read HackClub’s philosophy.


The name of this hackathon is Epoch and was organized by a team of high-school students — just like all other hackathons backed by HackClub.


This specific hackathon was special and the second of its kind, following Assemble. Just like Assemble, they provided travel stipends, and my full round-trip flight was covered. Awesome!


This event was held at Master’s Union offices, DLF Cyberpark in Gurugram, New Delhi.


DLF Cyberpark, Gurugram, New Delhi
DLF Cyberpark, Gurugram, New Delhi

I landed in New Delhi at about 8 am IST and was transported to the venue where I met the first few participants and organizers. While waiting for the event to officially begin at 6 pm, we walked around, introducing ourselves and having short (or long discussions) to better know ourselves.


headed to cyberpark
I'm being transported to Cyberpark -- the huge buildings ahead

During the initial few hours, we discussed amongst ourselves, talking about our personal interests, and our technology background. I got to see the faces of a few people I only interacted with via the HackClub Slack channel ;)


Discussing with Christina
Discussing with Christina

Event kick-off

When 6 pm hit the clock, we were taken to Master’s Union offices, on level 4 of tower A where the entire event would be held.


venue is being prepared by organizers
venue is being prepared by organizers

All participants were accredited and handed two cards, one with a drawing of Orpheus (the mascot) and another with a QR code. We would scan the code in order to order our lunch for the next day (which you had to do before midnight). As for the Orpheus card, we had to find other participants with the same and form a team with them to play a game later. The game served as an ice breaker — we had to be very well coordinated in order to play the game well, which means you had to know your teammates which you will discover by asking around in the room.


The theme

The hackathon had a theme which we voted all together during the event kick-off. The theme was “Stupid Shit Everybody Needs”.


"Stupid Shit Everybody Needs"
Event theme is "Stupid Shit Everybody Needs"

After choosing what the theme was going to be, we had a few introductions by the team and a quick summary of what was planned for the entire event. We had dinner and began creating teams and brainstorming on what we were going to work on.


brainstorming
brainstorming what project to work

Workshops

We also had workshops during the event which were pre-planned by a few participants. I had a workshop planned but they were out of spots. Too bad!


We had workshops on Astrophysics, Artificial Intelligence, creating stickers in Figma, and 3D printing just to name a few.


playing with a fidget cube from the 3D printing workshop
playing with a fidget cube from the 3D printing workshop

The people

I must say Indians are kind and friendly people. I was surprised at the number of friends I was able to make so quickly (I am normally a shy person). The vibe of the community was positive and energetic. Also, you should notice. There were girls, a lot of them… which is more than I am used to seeing in a tech community. The community seem very inclusive.

photo with some friends
photo with some friends

Also, the food… the food is very spicy but tasty as well. There wasn’t much of Indian-specific food at the table but the few I tried were good. I think this dish is called Jagdish Chaat.


my first Indian snack
the first Indian snack I tried -- spicy!

New year party

We had a new year countdown party. We had an awesome DJ and a lot of fun. I surprisingly danced too. Oh! Did I mention there was an African song? (at least an African musician), shut up


Demoing projects

During the event, I experimented with many ideas but settled on a game called Clap for Orpheus (Orpheus is the mascot of HackClub). It is a game similar to flappy bird except it uses characters of Orpheus… and you play the game using sound by clapping. I ended up hacking this game in about 2 hours as I was running out of time.


pitching my project to participants
pitching my project to participants

demoing the game I built -- clap for orpheus
demoing the game I built -- clap for orpheus

After building our projects, we demoed them to our peers. There were no judges — were the judges!


We were all handed a pack of candies and a flask. During the voting period, you had to walk around and try projects which caught your attention and if you liked them, you would drop some candies in the team’s flask. I managed to fill my flask completely — a team managed to fill 3 flasks by requesting candies as payment tokens to try their project in the first place — Genius!


Prizes

There was no ranking between teams. There was no #1 or last team. There were no certificates either (or else HackClub would probably be filled with students seeking for college admission).


Read HackClub’s philosophy to understand why we don’t judge and rank but rather share an appreciation for effort and fun. I think this helps you stay true to yourself and build things you genuinely find joy in.


After the voting period was over, it was time to collect prizes. You could get either a shark plushie, an Orpheus plushie or an Arduino in the shape of HackClub’s mascot, Orpheus.


Hanging out with HackClub Staff

It was great to have a discussion with HackClub’s founder Zach Latta, and their CEO Christina Asquith. I was also very welcomed at the venue by Kara that morning (I forgot to click a picture ).


selfie with Christina Asquith
selfie with Christina Asquith

picture with Zach Latta
picture with Zach Latta

I also got to meet Sam Poder


selfie with Sam Poder
selfie with Sam Poder

... and Deven

picture with Deven Jadhav
picture with Deven Jadhav

Dinner with Epoch team



dinner with Epoch team
dinner with Epoch team

I would say this experience was amazing for me. I made new friends, joined a network of like-minded peers and fell in love with India.

group photo with Epoch team
group photo with Epoch team


One of the most important lessons I learned by participating in this event is that if you want something, just go for it and people will help you.


Here is a post card signed by many friends I made during the event (including Zach 🙂). Besides is an Arduino Leonardo board in the shape of Orpheus, a gift from Zach himself, too.

a post card signed by friends and an Orpheus Leap
a post card signed by friends and an Orpheus Leap

After the event, I joined the SineRider team at HackClub where we are building an open-source educational game about love and graphing. Checkout SineRider, launching this April.


A documentary on Epoch was recently released, watch it here.


If you would like to connect, shoot me an email at hey@josiasw.dev or checkout my blog.


Cheers!

Djimi Josias

153 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page