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PyCon Pakistan & The First Meetup in Lahore

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Hi there guys! I will be starting my bachelors at Colgate University in Hamilton, US from this month. I have been pretty busy lately with making all of the required arrangements. However, during this time I got a chance to attend the first ever Python meetup in Lahore, Pakistan. It was hosted on July 22nd. I am a bit late with this write-up so without any further ado let’s get right into it.

I arrived at precisely 2 pm at the venue (Arbisoft’s office near Thokkar). The meetup started a bit later than planned because this was the first time and a couple of people arrived late. The meetup was attended by around 25 people. Some of them were seasoned devs, some were juniors and some were there with no idea about what Python actually is.

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Meetup

Meetup

Meetup

The event kicked off with an intro about Arbisoft and how they use Python. Soon after that everyone introduced himself/herself. Moving on, the discussion steered towards what the first PyCon should be about. A lot of ideas were bounced around and were taken very positively by everyone. Here is the crux of the discussion which ensued (this list has been taken from the official writeup about the event):

  • More people need to be aware of how diverse and massive Python is. They aren’t aware that Python powers mega-projects such as Youtube, edX, and Quora. This has to change.
  • Python needs to be made accessible for both developers and non-technical managers alike. We’re interested in putting together tutorials and talks about using Python that means we’re looking for knowledgeable speakers that break down complex topics into easy-to-understand takeaways.
  • We’re Pythonistas at heart and we have our favorites! We want to know which framework you prefer and why.
  • Python works well for machine learning but most people aren’t aware. We need to raise attention around this.
  • Universities in Pakistan are still focused on curricula that no longer adequately prepare students for industry demands. Instead of being first exposed to Python when they start a job (or try to qualify for one) we have to bridge the gap during student life that’s why we should reach out to students directly and invite them to PyCon.
  • We need to bring together all kinds of programmers, including those working on GPU-based programming, data automation, and deep neural networks. Imagine the possibilities of this: smart people working on cutting-edge technology, all speaking the same language, all in the same room.

The event can be filed as a success. The attendance was low but that was expected because this was the first meetup and not very well advertised.

I have two suggestions for the next meetup:

  • Invite more females to the event and make it more inclusive with female speakers. In Pakistan there is this notion that most events are only male friendly, we need to change that.
  • Plan out the whole event in such a way that people who come alone do not sit around talking to themselves. Help everyone get to know each other. Not everyone is good at initiating social discussions.
  • Advertise the event on Python mailing lists and local universities. Students are very eager to attend meetups in Pakistan but are usually unaware when one is happening nearby.

Here is a short video of me endorsing these efforts as well. There is a small bit in Urdu language but it is mostly in English.

I won’t be in Pakistan for the next meetup but I have my fingers crossed and hope that these efforts towards a successful PyCon in Pakistan will bear fruit. You can signup for the next meetup over here which will take place on 19th August at X2 cafe in Lahore.

Also note that you can submit proposals for the first PyCon till the 25th of August 2017. Speakers are eligible for discounted conference registration that may be waived on request. Speakers will receive souvenirs/certificates, lunch/meals, and external speakers are also eligible for travel allowance and accommodation. Here is the link to the official website.

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