I often get asked why I work with women in Lebanon. The answer is that I’m not totally sure. I can tell the story (I will), but like just about every other significant turn in my life - meeting my husband, working in tech - it was kind of an accident.
I’ve been creating apps since 2010. In the early years, I worked with developers from all over the world, though primarily US developers: tech dudes from New York, Boston, San Francisco. I feel like I’ve worked with them all at this point, and while I can tell you horror stories about the majority of them, I’ve traveled enough to know better than to generalize. People are people are people. Everywhere. And good devs are hard to find.
A few years ago, I met Sonia through a mutual colleague. I am generally prone to hyperbole, but this sentence is stone-cold true: it was a revelation to find a developer who worked as hard as I did. The clouds parted, angels sang, I exhaled.
Sonia literally could have been from anywhere, and she is from Tripoli, Lebanon.
We formed a quiet alliance in the early days that eventually became a formal one. That sentence over-simplifies what was at the time an incredibly risky move for both of us, but suffice it to say that - like two entwined eagles doing a trust dive - we came out of it bonded.
We opened our own dev office in Tripoli and hire and train local graduates at the top of their class. These young women are from Lebanese universities that are insanely competitive by US standards. They are incredibly bright. And loving. And joyful.
So that’s how I came to work with women in Lebanon, and that’s why I now regularly travel there. Given the political situation, this could seem like a statement, but it’s not one. It’s just the way it worked out. People are people are people, and these are some of my favorites.
At dinner in Tripoli last night, I was watching everyone laughing their faces off (they are usually laughing their faces off) and I thought about how misguided so many Americans' understanding of Muslims apparently is, and I nearly wept into the most delicious hummus of my life. But I didn’t. Because it was the most delicious hummus of my life.