“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it by yourself. It is not far. It is within reach. Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. Perhaps it is everywhere - on water and land.” ― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
Hi, my name is Alejandro (Alex) Rodriguez and I come from Madrid, Spain. Since the end of July 2016 when my family relocated to California, I have been living close to San Francisco. I am now 15-years-old and two years ago, I became the founder and hub manager of the Balder School Hub in Las Rozas de Madrid, Spain.
How did I end up founding and managing a Labdoo hub for my school? What could move a 13-year-old boy like me to take on something like this? How was the experience? Was it worth it? Do I have any advice for other young kids who might be thinking of trying to do something similar? I will try to answer these questions by recalling my own Labdoo journey made over these past two years.
As far back as I can remember, I have always liked learning new things especially in maths, science and technology and since I was 10-years-old, I have habitually enjoyed working with computers and software as well as building and programming robots. My dad has constantly encouraged me to spend any spare time on these activities whilst also forever reminding my sister and me how lucky we are. Lucky to have been born to live in this age (he keeps repeating “I envy you so much” and I would keep wondering “Why?”). Lucky to be citizens of a country like Spain at a time when almost everything that we might need or want, was available to us. In addition, my dad often retells us the story of how his parents and my mum’s parents (my grandpas and grandmas) had only been able to attend school until they were 12-years-old because they had to start working at that young age. He always talks about how tough life was in post-civil war Spain and how his parents worked extremely hard for him, his sister and his brother to give them the education that they themselves, could not have. Each time, I have listened to my dad as though he was talking about an old, black and white movie.
Yes, we had everything that we could possibly need or want including a good education: in good schools with good teachers; plenty of books and well-equipped school laboratories. My mum is a teacher so I guess the idea that a good education is the foundation for every kid’s future, runs in the family. I also remember my parents invariably calling me to watch the news on T.V. whenever there was an item relating to education or schools in developing countries or even in poor areas of Spain. I would see classrooms and students without computers; without books; even without desks and chairs; some schools were even without a roof. I did not understand why those children could not have all the resources that were available to me either for learning and/or just having fun. Still, I could see in their faces and in their eyes that they enjoyed going to school.
Maybe it was all of this (if even from the comfortable distance of my little bubble in a wealthy family; in a wealthy neighbourhood; in a wealthy country) that formed a keen sense in my mind that education is a fundamental right and that every kid, no matter where he or she is born (a decision by the way, not of his or her own making), deserves a good education. Although, I must confess that I do not remember this idea extending much beyond the uneasy feeling I experienced each time my parents roused me to watch those news stories on the T.V. Perhaps during that period, I was simply focussed on being a happy child; going to school; playing with my friends and doing the things that I enjoyed the most, like playing basketball!