No matter where you live, being a 15-year-old girl can be tough. For some girls, it’s a fight for independence, the fight to be first in class, or even the fight to win a boy’s heart.

For others, it’s a fight to stay safe from deadly gang violence, the fight against being trapped in an early marriage, or the fight to play sports considered off limits for girls.

During the month of October, NPR Goats and Soda is on a mission to capture the collective experience of being 15 around the world through social media. This action is part of #15Girls, a series about girls who take risks, break rules and defy stereotypes to create a better life for themselves. The objective: Connect you, our audience, with these girls by sharing your own stories.

Read all the #15Girls stories here

We’re asking you to post a photo of yourself as a teen, with the answer to this question: What was the hardest thing about being 15?

We welcome submissions from everyone. No answer is too big or too small — everyone has a story to tell.

Share your answers on Twitter or Instagram by tagging @NPR with the hashtag #15Girls. Make sure to include your name, location and current age, and if you’re posting a group photo, tell us which person you are.

Share Your Story: What Was The Hardest Thing About Being 15?

Photos: Courtesy of Yasmine San Pedro, Malaka Gharib, Vesta Partovi, Khadija Ahmad, Raliya Nura, Encarni Pindado for NPR

The Deal With Tumblr

If you’re reading this, you probably use Tumblr. Congrats! You’re one of over 420 million users. I am too. I’ve been using the microblogging website actively for over five years now. That’s just one year less than NPR has (thanks for keeping us on top of the game, Wright).

Tumblr is my favorite social platform. (If you need convincing as to why it’s relevant: it’s also the fastest growing one, according to Global Web Index research from last year). I like it because it helps me discover stuff I care about — be it information, art, ideas, writing, cute mammals. I’ve also learned a lot of things from Tumblr, things I arguably should have learned about first in school. No, I did not rely on the Internet for my bachelor’s degree. But it would also be wrong to say it didn’t play a definitive role in shaping my interests, feeding my intellect and sparking my passion for civic engagement. I know my sister (who’s what they’re now calling Gen Z), as well as my similarly generationed friends, would agree. Tumblr rocks. It’s beneficial and fun. Like your really cool friend who’s always on top of things and makes you think and laugh a ton.

So why am I going on about this? Wright asked me to give some thought to the future of our main NPR Tumblr. Also, I got in a tiff with another intern last month about the legitimacy of social media as a news source. Our consensus: it’s requisite and relevant for the general news consumer, but ~serious journalists~ will, as they should, be skeptical first and confirm information via reliable sources.

Like a mega creeper, I spent last month looking at competitors and thinking about what we should be doing with our Tumblr moving forward. Here’s what I came up with.

What NPR does now:

We push our great digital content. We mix it up with

They’re mixed pretty evenly between all topics.

We reblog NPR shows/desks and member station content.

  • This  supports our intra-Tumblr community**
  • It’s also great for cross-promotion between shows/desks that have large followings in and of themselves. (skunkbearfresh air — looking at you)

** This could potentially be a bad thing, however, if we have too many NPR-related Tumblrs. It could spread our brand too thin, making us seem clunky and difficult to keep track of.

We reblog other Tumblrs we follow.

  • It’s where we source most of what I’m going to call “fun stuff,” which is a big part of Tumblr.
  • We always sign our reblogs to keep us — the curators — human, accountable (and hopefully hilarious).

What we don’t do as much, and I think should be done more:

We should reblog and engage with our followers.

(Here, they’ve reblogged a follower’s reblog of their post, because it was funny. This is the greatest nod of acknowledgement to the follower. Tumblr is all about reblogging. Also, I really dig their Overheard at the Washington Post series.)

That brings me to,

We should tap more into gifs, memes, and TTT (Tumblr trending things) —all important parts of the culture of Tumblr.

  • We can incorporate these into our reblogs and engagements.

(This GIF-off is an A+ example of this. If we’re doing it on Facebook, we should do it on Tumblr!)

We should have more fun, without losing our integrity.

  • This is pretty self explanatory. We don’t want our followers to think we aren’t a ~serious news blog~. People expect a certain approach from us and we want to remain true to that identity. That being said, each social platform is different and we should definitely adapt our voice and presence to each one. I think it would do us well to make our Tumblr a bit more Tumblr-y. We’re always going to have and Facebook for straight pushes of our content. If we play our cards right and tailor appropriately, I suspect the Tumblr community will love us even more than they already do.

- Vesta

The real importance is not just the people who want to go into tech jobs, we believe that a basic understanding of how technology works is important to all jobs.
—  Hadi Partovi, our co-founder and CEO, on why we need more diversity in computer science. 
In a lot of the American dialog about the Iran nuclear deal there’s been a tendency to treat Iran as this feared, distant ‘other’ group, Partly because a lot of people don’t realize how interconnected they are to Iranians.

Ali Partovi, Investor, Dropbox, Zappos. Co-founder,

A group Americans of Iranian descent wrote an open letter for supporting peace with Iran.

A list of signers of this letter can be seen here :

It includes people like Salar Kamangar the former CEO of Youtube, Ali Rowghani the former COO of Twitter, Arash Ferdowsi the co-founder of Dropbox, and many other big names of Silicon Valley who are of Iranian descent.

This hugging is really strange in this country. I come to school here and no one hugs. No men hug. Everyone is hugging here. I go back, from Lewis & Clark to Fletcher School, and back to Iran. I come to visit my host family here. We greet and he hugs me. WOOOWWWW. Hugging. WE DON’T HUG. MEN don’t hug.
—  Cyrus Partovi, Middle East Politics, Lewis & Clark College
The “Secret Agenda” of

By Hadi Partovi, co-founder,

Throughout’s achievements in our first year, I’ve been humbled by support from millions of students, parents, teachers, companies and other organizations.

But we’ve also been thrust into the spotlight. Understandably, some have misunderstood what is about. I want to set the most common rumors, questions, and concerns to rest:

1) “Are you suggesting everybody needs to become a software engineer? Isn’t it enough to learn how to use software?”

We don’t need all students to become engineers, just like we don’t need them to become chemists, biologists or mathematicians. All our children, however, need access to the basics. Every student learns how to dissect a frog, how electricity works, and what H2O means. Today, it’s equally important to learn how to “dissect an app”, how the Internet works or what HTTP means. This foundational knowledge will be increasingly important in medicine, law, journalism, business, accounting, politics, you name it. Computer science helps students develop creativity, confidence, and problem-solving - which help in all information age careers.

Most of today’s lawyers and politicians don’t have a clue about how a website works, yet they’re regulating the Internet. Most of today’s hospitals still use paper files causing enormous costs. Countless world problems could be solved by technology, but not when 90 percent of schools don’t even teach how it works under the hood.

2) “Why teach kids computer science when our schools struggle to teach basic math and English?”

The answer: for the same reason we teach science, history, or foreign languages. Just because computer science is new doesn’t make it less foundational. That’s why over one million parents have signed our petition to increase access to computer science.

Also, computer science can help address our nation’s math/science problems: applying math, English, or science to build a game or app drives up a kid’s motivation to learn more math, English, or science.

3) “Isn’t a political effort run by tech companies and their evil founders to fill software jobs cheaply, to grow their profits?”

We’re not a political action group and we’re not run by tech companies. Our vision isn’t to grow software engineers, it’s to grow access to foundational knowledge. was initially founded with only the advice of my twin brother Ali Partovi and a handful of computer science educators. As of this writing (in Jan 2014), Ali and I together make up the first and largest donor to our donation covers the majority of all spending since the day it was founded.

Because our vision was bigger than any one individual, is set up as a public 501c3 charity. As a public charity, we’re required to have a diverse base of small donors, we don’t pursue the special interests of donors, and we’re significantly restricted in political lobbying.

We’re lucky to have the support of so many tech companies and their founders. I personally recruited every major donor, and I’m humbled by their generosity and willingness (even at the corporate level) to invest in education as early as elementary school. Other than the contribution by Ali and me, no other donor has given more than a single-digit percentage of’s funds.

If we highlight “tech celebrities,” it’s not because they run; it’s because they’re role models for millions and they generously offered their time in response to my requests. Our donors don’t control our operations. They do not have access to our data. They deserve the credit for our successes, but I deserve any blame for our mistakes, as the buck stops with me.

As an aside, students who pursue computer science as a career will notice that 67 percent of software jobs are outside the tech industry. These jobs are in every state and country. Silicon Valley struggles to hire software engineers, but so does the rest of America, and the world.

4) “Ok, computer science is important. But why teach coding? Won’t today’s coding languages be irrelevant in 25 years?”

Our organization is called, but our focus is on computer science. If we could fit in one word, we’d do it.  I believe most people don’t care about the difference between code and computer science. They just feel technology is passing them by quickly, and they don’t want their kids to suffer the same fate.

As a computer scientist, I know the coding languages we teach now may be out of date in 25 years.  But the concepts are fundamental: conditionals, loops, abstraction, these concepts span all languages. I learned them 25 years ago, and they’re relevant today. That’s why our intro curriculum teaches these concepts with visual programming, without any language.

The American Dream is about opportunity

The vision is for every student in every school to have the opportunity to learn computer science. It is a fundamental American ideal – and an ideal people worldwide aspire to – that access to education and opportunity should be equal for all. It seems un-American to accept that computer science classes are only available to the privileged few, in only 10 percent of schools. That is the problem we’re trying to solve.