My paiR

Rounding up a learning journey.

Janine Khuc

It’s been quite rocky times the last 7 months. Many of our lives have been turned upside down. Many things felt quite overwhelming. One of those things are the sheer amount of topics out there that one could learn, especially if you are facing it all by yourself. At least that’s what it feels like for many of us- so we asked: Why not struggle together? It is known that we tend to learn better, together. While the social isolation meant that often times you had to be physically isolated, that should not hinder you from learning with someone. So the idea was born to find participants that were eager to tackle a number of topics, a search for learning companions that shared similar goals. Together goals were set, both committed to the program to support and motivate one another in reaching their goals, whether it was to generally improve their R skills, learn some text mining, Shiny or to work on a project idea.

What’s my paiR about?

“And so, lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go, struggling and striving, and hoping that the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst into glorious fruition ere long.”

Mary Church Terrell

As R- Ladies Amsterdam our efforts are focused on building a strong community where we can rely on one another and support one another in reaching our full programming potential. While online meetups during this time are one effort to continue our efforts to get the community together it is just not the same. My paiR is a program that is dedicated to match you up with a partner that has similar learning goals as you have, such that together you could support one another to realize your goal.

My paiR is based on three values:

So what happened?

With this idea we released the first version of my paiR that ran for three months from May- August 2020. All we did was set up the structure such that our members could thrive and support one another. The topics could be chosen and can be anything from following a book together, exploring a topic or a package together. The pairs had topics ranging from data analysis, visualizations, text mining, R-Shiny, Bookdown, R for data science up to machine learning interpretability. We matched the individual learners based on their topics of preference, set some ground rules, supported with the project planning, were available weekly with our helpdesk to answer any questions that might have arose, and checked in bi-weekly to see how things were going and how we could help.

We were incredibly excited to kick-off the journey with 9 pairs (18 participants). The enthusiasm and excitement was overwhelming, even though we thought the online part might make it challenging. Fast forward three months, we are incredibly excited about how this intiative was received by the community. Thank you all for learning and supporting one another over the last months! Below you can read some of th experiences from the community.

Some Feedback

I feel proud that I successfully finished my paiR project which was arranged by R-Ladies Amsterdam. In this project, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Willy Tadema. We set our goal to successfully go through chapters of the the book ‘Interpretable Machine Learning’ by Christoph Molnar. However, our passion and enthusiasm about Data Science and Machine learning pushed us to go way beyond the content of the book. Learning is a social activity and this doesn’t always have to be face-to-face. It can be facilitated and accelerated by online platforms. Thanks Janine Khuc and Melissa Gurcan for bringing like-minded people together to shape a better knowledge-based capital in The Netherlands.

We learned how to use many packages together: rbookeh, shiny, plotly, and rggobi. The experience was gratifying, positive (and fun!). We motivated each other to keep on track with our goals. There is an added value in learning together with a fellow R lover who has a different background. Each person had a unique approach and perspective so that we could learn from each other and grow our knowledge faster than if we were to do it on our own.

Today we had the closing meeting of the my paiR project. In this project I was matched with Somayeh Koohborfardhaghighi. In the past three months we studied the book ‘Interpretable Machine Learning’ by Christoph Molnar together. I learned a lot and had a great time. Thank you so much Somayeh! Also kudos to Janine Khuc and Melissa Gurcan from R-Ladies Amsterdam for starting and organizing the my paiR project. Such a great initiative!

What’s next?

Sounds like something you’d like to join or know more about? We are planning the next edition to start in January 2021. This time with a bigger group for another three months. Follow us on social media to be sure not to miss the announcement. Have any questions, suggestions or ideas? Feel free to send Melissa or Janine a pm or send us an email through