Nour’s 2023 Wrapped

Nour’s 2023 Wrapped


Welcome to my headquarters. I’m from Tunis, Tunisia. If you know Tataouin from Star Wars, it is a real place in my country where the film was shot. I am a senior at the University of Rochester, studying Data Science. Currently, I run the Blockchain Acceleration Foundation, a nonprofit focused on blockchain adoption. Previously, I built products at Amalthea FS and Mos. Perpetually, I'm fascinated by the possibilities of technology for good, bad, and trivial.

🗓️Recap: 2023

January-March: Had my first Research Assistant experience at the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at UR
Developed web apps using React for interactive experiments. Co-authored a research paper on peer influence and polarization, submitted to ACII 2023 by MIT with a team at the HCI Lab at UR.
April: Announced the BAF x Algorand Partnership to grow blockchain education in Latin America
I believe that Latin America will be the epicenter of blockchain adoption, and I am proud to support Algorand’s mission of developing a rich student ecosystem throughout the region. With this partnership, Algorand supported BAF to create open-source learning opportunities for students. In 2023, BAF started 5 new blockchain clubs from scratch and organized 10+ events at universities in Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina.
May: Did my first Solo trip to Europe
Madrid: Reunion with my friend Claudia, an artist based in Madrid. We visited Lucian Freud’s exhibition and ate too many tapas.
Rome: Eternal City with incredible history and carbs in every corner.
Split & Hvar: The Croatian coast is my second favorite after the Tunisian one, obviously.
South of France: Fresh Produce, fine wine, and my great discovery that not all French people are as mean as Parisians.
Paris: Paris is truly my muse. The city got me back into writing, reading, film, and painting. I did not have enough time to visit all 130 museums so I have to go back.
June-July: Did my first Software Engineering internship at Amalthea FS in Paris
I arrived at the Amalthea FS office in Paris full of energy and so many questions. Was I going to make an impact? How was I going to make the most out of my time there? Would I drown in intern "grunt work"? From day one, it was clear that this would be my summer of real contribution. The team was so supportive. Ultimately, I got the chance to work on the following as a Frontend Intern:
  • Designed and implemented two dashboards using React and TypeScript enhancing the website’s overall usability
  • Created reusable components that optimized rendering performance
  • Wrote the documentation for setting up local development
Here are my key learnings:
  • A secret weapon to be a successful software engineer is actively seeking help when you need it. Studies show that students who receive 1-1 help end up performing in the top percentile. Become friends with your professors at school and mentors at work. DM engineers if you don’t understand their docs. Schedule pair programming sessions to work through problems together. If you spend a whole day trying to understand somebody’s code, you are NGMI.
  • Don’t limit yourself to your role. Genuinely be curious about anything and everything that’s happening around you. If there’s a cool project that interests you, ask about it! If there’s something you want to work on, go for it (with your manager’s approval, of course).
  • Slack as many people as you think are interesting in your team (trust me, there are a lot, so you’ll want to do this early on).
Looking back, I am much more equipped with knowledge than I was on my first day. I have an understanding of how to balance multiple aspects of product development and business objectives while crafting an optimal user experience. I met very bright people along the way.
End of July: Wrote and launched the BAF Blockchain Club Toolkit
The Blockchain Club Toolkit (BCT) provides student groups with a playbook for building and running their club at every stage. This is an open-source public-good initiative.
August: Spent time with my family in Kelibia, Tunisia
End of August: Did my first cross-country road trip with my friend AJ: Seattle to NY
Most of the random things I did in life were because of my best friend, AJ. They are a firefighter who studies Conservation Biology. Before the start of school, we decided to road trip across the country, from Seattle to New York and we camped at parks every night.
  1. Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park, Montana
  1. Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
  1. Badlands National Park, South Dekota
  1. Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana
  1. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
  1. Letchworth State Park, New York
I always find a profound joy in talking to AJ about their research in conservation biology. They taught me about fire’s role in biological diversity and healthy ecosystems. I also saw prairie dogs and bison for the first time.
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September: Received a scholarship to attend the Out 4 Undergrad Conference
Out4Undergrad (O4U) invites a diverse class of high-achieving LGBTQ+ students to unique conferences where they find resources to scale their careers. I wrote about my experience here.
October: Got appointed Co-President of the Blockchain Acceleration Foundation by the board
In 2023, I organized 17+ events (online and IRL) and 208 scholarships for students. I raised $180k for the foundation and I led educational initiatives from concept to release. I am honored to be chosen by the board as the Co-President and excited to empower more students around the world to build the open web in 2024 🥂
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November: Co-organized 0xVillage with Yigit (a cryptography symposium in Western Turkey)
0xVillage was a program at the Nesin Math Village in Western Turkey right after Devconnect (19-23 November). Each day of the program featured research talks on crypto, but participants were also able to discover the surrounding regions and enjoy the setting and resources offered by the Village.
December: Got accepted into the E5 program with a full tuition scholarship to spend a fifth year working on an entrepreneurial project (in my case BAF)
December: Celebrated Christmas with my friend AJ in Seattle and started the Consensys Blockchain Bootcamp
Throughout the year, I learned a fifth Language: Spanish
January 2024: Landed a Software Engineering Internship for the Summer of 2024 which was my biggest goal for 2023

🪅 Learnings: 2023

  • If you keep asking about how to do something, you are not that serious about doing it. Wanna be great at something? Find your way to do it. You don’t watch a painter making art and then suddenly you can do it too nor will their advice help you much.
  • Writing is fun when you think of it as a playground. « Essai » is the French word for essay and it originally meant an attempt. When you are writing, it is an attempt to think. It is a word that defies categorization because its very nature is open to experimentation.
  • What we tell ourselves every day will lift us or destroy us because a reliable way to make people believe in falsehood is frequent repetition. Our little brains don't easily distinguish familiarity from the truth.
  • Sometimes the ideas are not new but there are new ways of giving those ideas breath and power in your living.
  • It is okay to be selfish with your time as long as you are not being a jerk about it.
  • Surround yourself with people who are free in ways you are not.

📚 Fav Books: 2023

  • Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore
  • Altered Traits by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson
  • The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault
  • Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard
  • Amusing Ourselves to Death By Neil Postman
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport
  • The Emissary by Yoko Tawada
  • Why Sinéad O'Connor Matters by Allyson McCabe
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🎧 Fav Music: 2023

🎥 Fav Movies: 2023

  • The Color of Pomegranates
  • Amores Perros
  • Mulholland Drive
  • A Moment of Innocence
  • Sans Soleil

If you made it this far, thank you! I can't help but reflect on all the special experiences that shaped me in the past year. As the sun had set on my year of adventures, I carried the lessons I learned into my senior year at the University of Rochester. I am ready to embrace the seasons that lie ahead (even the snow) with a heart full of gratitude and ready for whatever comes next.