#CHIMe : The very thing I needed.

On Friday 24.04.2020, I say, it was a privilege to have been a part of over 100 persons who joined the virtual CHIMe 2020 Workshop. It was an eye-opening, educational, safe space for learning and receiving mentorship. This was my first virtual workshop, CHIMe and Mentorship in HCI. It was also a decade of CHIMe.

I appreciate the organizers Robin Brewer (University of Michigan), Denae Ford and Martez Mott (both from Microsoft Research) who put in the effort to organize the virtual workshop especially in these times.

On a personal level #CHIMe was the thing I needed but did not know I needed until Friday. It was insightful mentoring. The topics covered writing, publishing, being a minority in the HCI field and making career choices (staying in academia, industry of combining both). This was my first time in Academia that I was able to openly discuss and chat about topics of race and discrimination with persons who shared similar values and experiences.

It was helpful in getting into contact with the SIGCHI community. I gained a contact which a person who had similar research interests and hope that it develops into something beneficial for both parties. And I got to see the amazing faces behind the papers I read.

Some of my takeaways were :

  1. Not every research must be groundbreaking but must make significant contribution to the community. It is important to always add when writing, a sentence stating exactly what contribution the research makes.
  2. In approaching others for help, know specifically what you want even if you are not sure of where your work is.
  3. Find spaces of affirmation where you can be nurtured and encouraged. Existing networks for people of color, social media, be part of a community that specifically encourages persons of color. ( Affirmation spaces as termed by Finda, author of the Critical Race Theory for HCI paper).

I left the workshop with a new perspective and a striking statistic that remains in my head about the dropout rate of black PhD candidates.

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