From movies to real life, we were Inspired by the young women who reach beyond their circumstances to become heroes. We are inspired by activist, Malala Yousafzai, who believes every girl deserves 12 years of education. We are also inspired by pop culture movies like Logan and Wonder Woman with characters who evolve into heroes despite their circumstances. And to us every refugee escaping war or disaster to find a new home is a hero.

In our project, we apply this insight from a recent Hacker News article: That changing environments stimulates improved learning.

Here is the first iteration of our deck with the project overview: on:

What it does

Refugeni provides collaborative learning to refugee girls using Facebook's Messenger extension and content from companies like Coursera.

Our refugee student, Bana, is 15 and from Syria. She misses her home, her family, friends and school. She is intelligent, curious and loves to read.

Bana was introduced to Refugeni by one of the NGO’s on the ground during her travels from Syria. She and other girls were encouraged to continue their studies using tool.

Bana accesses Refugeni through Facebook Messenger. The Refugeni Messenger extension provides her with a link to the next lesson in her course, “Learning how to learn” from Coursera.

She watches the short video lesson. Then takes an exam. After successful completion of the exam she receives a sticker that she can share with her classmates encouraging them to take the next lesson.

Bana can also create her own study group or select study buddies who can learn more together.

How we built it

We created a Facebook Messenger extension for providing collaborative learning. Our project was implemented in Clojure and Clojure script with Facebook React.

Our project is based on insights gained from running in person study groups held in San Diego for Coursera classes. We learned that people learn more and finish the course when they have access to a study group.

Challenges we ran into

Facebook messenger extension was first release at Facebook’s recent developer conference F8. It is currently in beta. Some functionality is still error with limited error feedback.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Our team really pulled together to create a well integrated functioning prototype in a limited time frame. Our team was composed on site. Terje and Juliet have worked together before but it is the first time working with Lourdes. Great team! Great work!

What we learned

We learned more about the global situation for refugees than we previously understood. Members of our team participated in the global Techfugees hackathons creating technology to help refugees. We felt we had some understanding but after the presentation of the speakers we realized that there were many more issues that could be worked on by developers, designers and entrepreneurs.

What's next for Refugeni

Our vision is to create partnerships with NGO’s (non-governmental organizations like Global Citizen and Global Fund for Women) working with refugees who are on the move from their home country to a destination in another country. We would also like to partner with Ed Tech companies like Coursera to provide content to refugee girls via our project. Finally, we would like to partner with Facebook to continue to develop our extension to best meet the needs of refugee learners.

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