A 10-year-old Parisian girl named Eva recently applied for a summer program so she could learn more about robotics and correct the mistakes she was making on the little robot she was working with at home. She didn't realize the program was for Ph.D.s and other professionals in the fields of urban design, data science and computer hardware; she just saw it was for curious and creative people who wanted to make a change in their city and their world.
And that was her.
So Eva applied, telling administrators of the Paris Summer Innovation Fellowship:
"The streets of Paris are sad. I want to build a robot that will make them happy again. I’ve already starting learning how to code on Thymio robots, but I have trouble making it work. I want to join the program so the mentors can help me."
Eva's fearlessness impressed the officials evaluating the applications, as did her obvious interest in robotics. Her unabashed way of asking for help also stood out to them.
And so Eva won a spot in one of Paris' most prestigious summer fellowships among a pool of applicants that included doctoral candidates and Ph.D.s from all over the world.
Kat Borlongan, a founding partner of the innovation agency Five by Five and one of the selection officials, sent Eva her acceptance letter, and posted it to Facebook for all to read.
"I am writing to you personally because your application inspired me. There was nothing on the website that said the program was open to 10 year olds but — as you must have noticed — nothing that said that it was not. You’ve openly told us that you had trouble making the robot work on your own and needed help. That was a brave thing to admit, and ultimately what convinced us to take on your project. Humility and the willingness to learn in order to go beyond our current limitations are at the heart and soul of innovation."
Borlongan also told Eva that the president of Thymio — the company that built the robot Eva was currently working with — would personally assist Eva with her work in the fellowship. Thymio would also be sending her the company's latest robot.
"It is my hope that your work on robotics will encourage more young girls all over the world — not just to code, but to be as brave as you, in asking for help and actively looking for different ways to learn and grow."
Eva is already off to a dazzling start in life. She's an inspiration to creative thinkers — young and old — and a reminder that sometimes we need to look beyond what we think are life's boundaries to the infinite possibilities that exist beyond.