As the student application period rapidly approaches for Google Summer of Code 2013, past students, mentors, and organization administrators are organizing meetups around the globe to talk with university students interested in participating in this year’s program. Over the next couple of months we will feature posts written by some of these meetup organizers in a special blog series.
Colombo, Sri Lanka meetup: held March 4, 2013
We held our first Google Summer of Code meetup at Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (Colombo, Sri Lanka) on the 4th of March 2013. The event was organized with a great deal of support from the Department of Computing. Approximately 150 young enthusiasts took part in the event.  

The first speaker was Keshan Sodimana, who is the Manager of Google Developer Group, Sri Lanka. Keshan delivered an excellent presentation on the value of open source software for the world. He explained how the world is heavily dependent on open source infrastructure from the Linux kernel on supercomputers to the Android mobile operating system on millions of phones around the world. 
Next, I took to the stage to present the students with an overview of the Google Summer of Code program. I also focused on general open source fundamentals from communication within open source communities to proper email/IRC etiquette and open source culture. 

The final speaker was Suranga Nath Kasthurirathne, a mentor and past Google Summer of Code student for OpenMRS. Suranga discussed general information about Google Summer of Code such as important dates for the program, how to apply, guidelines on how to write project proposals, and how students can develop the most suitable project based on their interests. 
The meetup concluded with a session on related technologies, including an OpenMRS demonstration and other related tools such as the Student Manual and which would help students prepare for Google Summer of Code 2013. The students were very excited about the program and asked many questions both publicly and individually after the session ended. We tried to clear up doubts they had about their own abilities and encouraged them to participate. 
We pointed out the benefits of working on real-life projects, as opposed to the mock projects that they work on in university. We also explained the value of building connections all around the world, and the happiness working on open source projects brings in general. Those of us who had participated as students in previous Google Summer of Code programs shared our experiences on why it was important to continue with a project after Google Summer of Code was over and what benefits it could bring to them. 
Good luck to all the hopefuls applying for Google Summer of Code this year!  
By Harsha Siriwardena, former Google Summer of Code student for OpenMRS 2012, Google Code-in mentor for the Fedora Project 2012 and Organizer of Google Developer Group Sri Lanka
Stay tuned as we feature more Google Summer of Code meetups over the next 2 months leading up to the student application period, April 22nd-May 3rd.

By Stephanie Taylor, Open Source Team