Who are you?
Mohammad Milhem, 16 years old high school student, from Palestine, I like also introducing myself as a junior competitive programmer.
Why did you start learning Programming? and why did you choose competitive programming?
It was an advice from my older brother, he said that programming makes you think better and even helps you solve some of the real-life problems, that was like "Bla Bla Bla" to me, but I wanted something to challenge me, so I took it, later I discovered that was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Why competitive programming..., Actually it was a way to use the knowledge I acquired by learning programming, math, etc... On the other hand, it was something I enjoyed, it challenged me and my skills, and of course, it improved my skills in programming.
With help, and under the guidance of my coach Samed Hajajla, my knowledge grew, and finally, I saw the real wonderful world of computer science.
What struggles did you face while you are learning? are there moments where you almost give up?
As I got my training as online free training, It was always hard to learn new things, you have to search for good resources, videos, etc... but thanks to my coach who always helped me with sources and picked the best for me.
All of us have that moment, in which we feel that we lost our talent, but the most important thing is not to lose faith in ourselves, I always say to myself in such moments, that nobody loses his knowledge or his skills, but he may be misused them. so I learned to love every moment in this path Whether it was a moment of winning or a moment of loss, I learned to love every single point on my graph on code forces, so when I achieve something I will be proud that I didn't stop.
How long you've been doing it?
I started learning to program when I was in the 9th grade, about 14 years old, and I started competitive programming a year after that.
away from programming did competitive programming help you in your life (examples: traveling, school, opportunities, raising thinking abilities, etc..)
I had the chance to participate in IOI 2019 (International Olympiad in Informatics) in Azerbaijan, I made new friends from different countries and different backgrounds, It also helped me in school as a way to solve problems quickly (especially in math exams), and it gave me the opportunity to meet people in this field and work with them, in other words, it made me a well-known person in my county, at least in this field.
tell us an example of one of your favorite problems?
I love geometrical problems, this is one of them I enjoyed solving it, it called Number of Parallelograms, you can find it here, there is another famous dynamic programming problem I liked called knapsack problem, you can also find it here.
Tell us about your achievements and the things you gained out of programming?
I participated in a local contest called "IC" and gained the first place, with a full scholarship in one of the local universities (Palestine technical university Kadoorie (PTUK)), I participated in the Palestinian Olympiad in informatics (POI), gained the first place also, and qualified to the international olympiad in informatics 2019 (Azerbaijan), I didn't do well in the this one, but hopefully, I will next year.
Did you receive any assistance from the competitive programming community in your country?
I did receive a lot of help from the community, but the problem is the community in Palestine is very small, of course, the majority of it from the universities, just a very small group of high-school students are involved in this community, but on the other hand, the community has expanded over recent years, which is a very important step to advance the competitive programming community. Hopefully, within a few years, the community of competitive programming in Palestine will become strong and coherent.
Do you want to add something?
yes, I want to point out to the struggles we faced as "Palestinians" in this field, every year Palestine organize the PCPC (Palestinian collegiate programming contest), in order to qualify teams to participate in ACPC (Africa & Arab Collegiate Programming Championship), but over the recent years, the Palestinians are not allowed to participate in this contest because the hosted country didn't give them visas because they are "Palestinians" and this is unacceptable, also the community face a financial problems which cause delays in scheduling competitions and even trying to cancel some of them, at the end I want to say that we still have faith in ourselves which is the most important thing. Hopefully, this is the bottleneck and we will pass through it safely.