By Hui Xiang

It’s three weeks into the program and the experience has been unbelievable. This is the fifth instalment since the inception of the program and the structure and ecosystem in place has definitely matured — every minute has been jam-packed with activities, ranging from training sessions (where we learn the necessary basics of open-source software such as Git, PostgreSQL and Python and analytical methods) to project update sessions (where we share stories emerging from the data and each project’s progress with everyone in the Fellowship) to team learning sessions (where we talk about our strengths, learning objectives and working preferences/ lifestyles to better work together as a team through understanding and complementing one another). Coming in with a statistical background and hardly any experience in command line scripting, the learning curve has been steep, but the support from other Fellows and technical mentors has made the process much less painful. I have missed this feeling of guided learning a long time!

 Project team update

Rayid Ghani, Chief Data Scientist for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, joined us in Portugal. Being in the same space as him was surreal. Rayid’s story about how the campaign tackled the challenges they faced taught us to always break down a broader/ higher-level problem into several smaller ones and to identify the source/ root of the issue on hand. Often there is no guarantee of success but we have to keep trying and iterating to improve on the baseline. A resilient soul, in addition to a big heart and an analytical mind, are ingredients for the DSSG community. And of course, as a fellow, I do agree with Rayid that “being able to code makes you a better person”. 🙂

Rayid’s sharing on President Obama’s 2012 campaign

Last but not least, apart from working hard on our projects, we play hard too. I have to say, I feel fortunate to be part of the inaugural batch of DSSG Europe!

Hitting the beach at Caparica at 40°C

Long live DSSG!

About the author: Hui Xiang (Fellow DSSG Europe 2017) is from Singapore and is excited to work with geospatial data for the first time.