Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Georgi Ker Awarded the PSF Community Service Award for Q4 2020

Georgi Ker was awarded the Python Software Foundation 2020 Q4 Community Service Award.

RESOLVED that the Python Software Foundation award the Q4 2020 Community Service Award to Georgi Ker. Georgi has been instrumental in establishing PyLadies Global. She is also a PyLadies Bangkok organizer, a member of the PSF Diversity and Inclusion WG, and an organizer with PyCon Thailand and APAC PyCon.

We interviewed Georgi to learn more about her inspiration and work with the Python community. We also asked several of Georgi's close associates, including Iqbal Abdullah and Saranya Mohan, to share more light about Georgi's community efforts and impact on the community.

The Origin Story

What was your earliest memory of how you got into tech?

I was born and raised in Singapore. I picked up computer languages pretty much like how I pick up most human languages - self-taught. I speak about eight human languages and three-to-five computer languages. 

The very first computer class I took was MS-DOS 5.0.

When I was 20, I migrated to France and got married there. It was only when I had my first child while creating a website for her on Geocities that I found all the limitations on the template and started fumbling around CSS.

Programming has always been more fun for me to explore since my income comes mainly from project management, business consultations, design, and digital marketing.

When I moved back to Thailand in 2018, I went to a hack night one day and met programmers coding in different languages, hanging out together. I was learning Ruby then, and the meetup organizer, Dylan Jay, introduced another Rubyist - Dan Itsara, to me.

Along the way, we got two more programmers - Cody Fox and Matt Meyer to join in, and we started our very first Ruby meetup in Bangkok. 

That's when I started to get more involved in programming.

What was your earliest involvement with the Python community?

After a few meetups in the community, Dylan, a Pythonista, knew that I do design work, contacted me then to help them out with their new PyCon logo and some event posters.

The following year, I organized PyCon and managed the marketing and design section for PyCon Thailand 2019.

During ThaiPy meetups, I was usually either the only female or was one of the few female developers there.

Inspired by a talk from Lina Katayose (PyLadies Tokyo) at the PyCon conference 2019, I decided to start a PyLadies chapter in Bangkok along with Gatuk (Sudarat Chattanon) to help support the female developers in the Thai Python community. I also helped many young, motivated students from Chulalongkorn University set up CUPy on their campus, providing organizational guidance.

What drives and inspires you to volunteer your time and resources in the Python community?

Being an immigrant in Thailand, it is hard to find resources and support in English to learn more. And that is why I go to meetups.

Being a female, it can be intimidating to be surrounded by men when I want to learn more. I want to feel comfortable asking the dumbest question one can ever think of and not being laughed at.

Learning is subjective, and motivation coming from an individual can be limited. Python is an Open Source language. 

There are no companies paying advocates to promote the language, yet the language is so commonly used by organizations worldwide. This is where a community can help. To motivate learning and help discover new methods to solve problems related to Python.

The key to learning without boundaries is access to resources and support. If there isn't one, I will help build it. If there is one, I will volunteer to help support it. After all, I will also benefit from the community when I listen to the talks and meet these people.

How has your involvement within the Python community helped your career?

I actually got to know the PSF team through Ewa Jodlowska. She approached me to help them design PyCon assets and PSF's anniversary T-shirts this year after seeing the posters I've created for International Women's Day in March.

Later in the year, Jackie Augustine invited me to submit the proposal for design assets for PyCon 2022 and 2023.

I got the project, and now I get to do the UI design, swags, and banners! It's cool to see people wearing your designs.

For my self-improvement, with the community's help,  I also get to know where to find suitable ebooks and resources, and I get to know amazing people who support me while I am learning.

How has Covid affected your work with the Python community, and what steps are you taking to push the community forward during these trying times?


I can totally relate to this question after leading PyCon APAC 2021. When we decided to submit our proposal to host PyCon 2021 last year, the pandemic hit hard and demoralized many PyCon organizers. 

We decided to propose a hybrid - in-person and online - event with so many uncertainties. And it was tough because it seemed like you were organizing two events. Due to travel restrictions, we decided to make the event online.

Some PyCon APAC organizers couldn't find the manpower and resources to organize PyCon in 2020 and 2021. So we asked these organizers to nominate two-to-three speakers from their own country. This allowed everyone to participate without investing too many resources and at the same time allowed the conference to showcase diverse talents.

And there was the challenge of time zone differences. So to allow attendees to watch the talks at their own convenience and prevent speaking from waking up in the wee hours to give a talk, we proposed pre-recorded talks.

The Covid lockdowns have limited our mobilities, and studies have shown that people suffer from mental health issues. We invited health specialists to talk about mental health, computer-related injuries,  posture, and pain. One instructor even gave a live yoga session.

Since PyCon APAC is a diverse community and English is not the first language for many, we had all our talks captioned to make it easier for everyone. We had volunteers moderating different language chatrooms, a 24-hour open space to meet and make new friends, an open mic for everyone to show off their non-coding talents, and a live DJ from Paris.

Covid has forced everyone to find solutions as soon as possible, but some things still require time. 

Community leaders have to stay positive and help keep the community motivated.

Georgi Ker Impact Story on the Python community

Iqbal Abdullah, PyCon Japan, speaks on Georgi's contributions to the Python community.

Georgi's most significant influence is rallying the community in Thailand to host PyCon APAC in 2021. Through her leadership and hard work, she has cultivated a community in Thailand that was non-existent as it is right now.

Georgi is also a role model to many. She has shown that her unconventional background and life experiences do not deter her from having a career in technology, being accepted, and finally leading the community.

I am happy and proud that Georgi is being awarded the CSA - she deserves it!

Saranya Mohan also speaks on Georgi's impact.

One of Georgi's outstanding qualities is the ability to listen and understand the community's needs. For example, she noticed that Thailand does not have a PyLadies community group, and she created the PyLadies Bangkok group. There were also student volunteers for PyCon Thailand 2019, and they were interested in creating a Python user group within their campus. Georgi volunteered to help them set up this chapter, now known as CUPy - Chulalongkom Univesity Python User Group.

Thailand hosted PyCon APAC 2021, and Georgi was the conference lead. She came up with the idea of a community and health track and invited prominent speakers in their fields to talk about work-burnout, posture problems - which we are experiencing these days. 

The Python Software Foundation congratulates and celebrates Georgi Ker.