ST. LOUIS — Hundreds of hackers are competing against one another to come up with the best solution to help immigrants make a smooth transition into the United States.
GlobalHackVII participants began filling up Chaifetz arena on Friday.
Competitors will spend the weekend solving four major issues local immigrants face when moving to the U.S. – finding employment, integrating into the community, learning how to use resources and chronicling the immigrant experience.
Global Hack is a St. Louis based non-profit who has been hosting the GlobalHack competitions since 2014. During each competition, teams are tasked to use technology to solve society’s most complicated social issues.
William Herron is a high school senior from the Kansas City area. He is working with his classmates to create a solution to help immigrants who fear openly asking for help.
“We thought an anonymous helpline could solve that,” Herron said.
The helpline and database doesn’t only benefit immigrants, the strenuous process helped Herron and his classmates grow as well.
“It forces you to work as a team and all of the members to cooperate,” Herron said.
Herron said the technological and teamwork lessons learned will help him in college as he works toward a computer science degree.
On the other side of the arena, Sherie Richards and other University of Missouri – St. Louis students are coding a website that will make it easier for immigrants to get jobs.
“They don't have anybody, they don't have that support system,” Richards said.
“We feel empowered to take the weekend out, use technology to be able to assist them.”
The weekends work is personal for Richards who wants the newest members of the Saint Louis community to feel at home.
Even though they are working hard, numbers aren’t the only thing they are crunching.
“Popcorn, chocolate, apple and lunchmeat for snacks,” Richards said.
The fun doesn’t stop once the crumbs are eaten. Competitors can take a break by playing a couple of games of Super Mario that is set up in the corner of the arena.
At the end of the day, it’s still a competition and teams are clicking and typing their way to being crowned champions of GlobalHackVII.
The winner(s) will be chosen by who has the most practical solution. The winning solution will be used to help local immigrant families.