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Why I’m Doing What I’m Doing: My Work in a Non-Profit

GraffitAI, the event that provided me with a sense of purpose in the nonprofit world.

Linh Kim
March 1, 2023

Working for a charity sounds non-essential: it is nice, for sure, but non-essential. You are not making the big bucks, you are not generating a whole lot of GDP, therefore, you are not as important. However, when thinking about why charities like Digital Moment exist, the answer we get is often quite alarming: because nobody else is doing it. It becomes even more chilling when the needs that these organizations are trying to meet are fundamental, essential needs. In this case, it is digital education. The reality is that

“fewer youths choose to participate in the workforce because they don’t have the skills that they need to be justly compensated in the digital era.”

The reason is simple: nobody ever taught them, and so it was up to organizations like Digital Moment to make up for this lack of the current school system.

The context

Even as an employee, I sometimes struggle to find the meaning of my work. Why are we doing what we are doing? What impact are we creating? Who are we helping? The answers to these questions are not straightforward because the results of our work are usually long-term. Advocacy work, especially education, is not a 1-day project, but often spans throughout a lifetime. Still, I wanted answers. So when the opportunity to participate in the GraffitiAI event arose, I jumped at it like the meaning of my existence depended on it.

The event

The GraffitiAI event bridged the gap between arts and artificial intelligence by showing what the latter is capable of. We invited a local Montreal artist who created awe-inspiring graphics that we projected on buildings using digital projection. We had different stations around the room with kids-friendly content: a station to get your face painted, another with paper and crayons for kids to draw, and another—facilitated by our learning specialist—with computers for kids to experiment with coding. Through a wireless connection, we brought their drawings to life by broadcasting them on the venue’s big screen. So many wonderful things happened at the event, but the most magical thing was seeing the joy on our young participants’ little faces, how their eyes lit up at the sight of their own creations being shown on a mega-screen.

“Hey, that’s Zak’s Avatar!”,
“Look Mom! It’s my Christmas tree!”

The whole event venue was submerged in a magical atmosphere of music, light, colors, and art, captured in this video. You can also watch what the participants had to say about the event:

The purpose

Walking home that night, it was clear to me such wonder technology can make and how close it was to pure magic. It was clear to me, also—the way it was 5 years ago when I chose to do a degree in Political Science—why I had wanted to work in the advocacy sector in the first place: to make a difference in people’s lives, to empower the young generation and give them the tools that they need to lead our world to a better place.