Giving back to the community while developing new skills

Giving back to the community while developing new skills

“When we practice something, we are involved in the deliberate repetition of a process with the intention of reaching a specific goal.

The words deliberate and intention are key here because they define the difference between actively practicing something and passively learning it.”

—Thomas Sterner, The Practicing Mind 

It is clear that passive learning creates knowledge, but, on the other side, active practice creates skill.

I am going to tell you my story and how I've used this simple goal definition recently.

Ten years ago I was contacted by Rasha the keysmith. He asked me to create an application for him about a record of pilgrims.

Rasha is not an ordinary man. He is the most famous citizen of the city which I live in - Indjija, Serbia.

There is no person in Indjija who doesn't know him and doesn't have at least one key which he made.

He had been paralyzed from his birth due to cerebral palsy. When he was four year old, he experienced a true miracle at the Monastery of Ostrog in Montenegro, where he suddenly got up and walked.

Rasha has been taking people on tours to Ostrog, Hilandar, Decani, Djunis, Gracanica, Lepavina and Iasi in Romania.

If you would like to find out more about his story, feel free to watch the video (English translation available).

At that moment, I was working with Java programming language and used the PostgreSQL DB. We met each other and agreed what should be implemented.

I delivered the solution and he’s been using the application for the last ten years.

I promised him that he would have a modern web-based application. At that moment I was thinking about the technology stack which could have been used.

I considered implementing it using the ASP.NET MVC / KnockoutJS / SQL Server - a technology stack with which I had significant experience.

It crossed my mind that I had promised to Rasha that I would create a web application, although somehow I postponed it a couple of times.

I knew that he had a working solution and that kept me procrastinating about the development of the new application.

One day I came up with an idea idea - could I learn something new which is important to me in order to create the desired modern web application for Rasha?

I wanted to learn the ReactJS framework. For the technology stack I picked: Web.API, SQL Server, ReactJS, Bootstrap 4 and NPoco.

That completely changed my mind.

It did not go long, when I recognized the all benefits from using that approach.

I was happy that I was learning something new. On the other hand, being aware that I was helping someone was forcing me to keep going on with learning and implementation.

What I also recognized was the fact that I didn't just learn new things about the ReactJS framework. I also learnt how to combine the knowledge I gained with the things I was already familiar with.

The application was complex enough to force a lot of different aspects to be implemented.

In Rasha’s case, it was important to have a prepared list of passengers for border checks. Each different trip destination requires a different kind of list.

Once I deployed the application and made it available, I sent the link with credentials to Rasha.

I was really happy when I saw that he was able to use the application without any special assistance.

Learning by doing is a fantastic idea. There is a plethora of opportunities around us to practise that approach. 

I would like to emphasize a certain campaign organized by Vega IT, where I work, with the aim to create open-source projects as solutions for everyday problems we face - called "Code for a Cause 2".

Events like this develop your skills very fast, make you happy and, most importantly, make the world a better place to live.

I encourage you to use this kind of goal definition.

Just look around to see if someone needs your help.

Is there any new skill which you have on your mind, ready to be learnt?

Please let me know if you need some help via the contact form.

Please let me know if you are striving to learn something new. Do let me know about the details via the contact form.

I would play the role of a matchmaker and would like us all to mutually connect (for me personally, this would mean developing a new skill as well :) ).

The truth is that it is more difficult to actually do something instead of just learning in passive mode.

Please, stop thinking and start doing. Spend less time learning passively and use your time wisely by practicing actively.

START DOING, learning itself does not lead to progress!

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