#ICANN60, Being a #Fellow is Exclusive!
Before the meeting
It was a busy day at work when I received the prosperous WhatsApp message from my friend Maryan about my selection as a fellow for ICANN60. I couldn’t believe it until I checked the link and saw my name there. I felt thrilled and grateful because of this opportunity. The happiness became greater when two nights later we realized Hamide Shahrabi, my old friend, was also selected as a NextGen and it reached to its peak after Mahdi received the ICANN Booth fellowship. The fortune was smiling at us, Iranians, this time.
Travel constituency support
After receiving an email from Siranush, the compassionate fellowship manager of ICANN, on August 3, we had two weeks to enter our information into the travel constituency portal. All of our travel related tasks including visa process, travel tickets, accommodation as well as $400 stipend have been perfectly handled by the team. I would like to thank them again especially, Yasar Arafat who helped me a lot and answered all my questions patiently.
Whats App group
A whats app group named “ICANN60 fellows” was made on Aug 2, by Mahdi Taghizadeh and fellows been added there by him and Zakir who were great ICANN Booth leaders. The group was so active and the folks provided us with many useful information prior and during the meeting. A very positive point of having that group is to get the chance to discuss more about ongoing discussions during the sessions when there is a hot topic or question and you need not only listen to the speaker but also to share your opinion and ask for other fellows’ point of views too.
Here I need to mention one of the most challenging discussions on the group about fellows who didn’t get the expected answers after rising up their questions. It was somehow challenging, of course we heard lots of wise answers to our questions but still, some of them had been ignored or simply not answered clearly.
Siranush, Fellowship Program Manager, emails
To be honest, those emails were lengthy and I had always doubt if I miss anything, so I used to double check them with other friends. Siranush; the amazing lady, was a true kind of support for all of us. Her emails were written enlightening and at the same time they were friendly too. We were also added to a Facebook group by her in which news related to us was being shared. However, as I am not active on Facebook, I was checking it rarely. My decision is to use Facebook to maintain better communications from now on.
Small Fellow Groups
On Aug 2, our individual groups been announced, soon after it, we received emails from our coaches. This was one of the best preparation strategies for the fellows. Fortunately, the group members of mine were based in Asia with not a significant time differences. Although, later in the meeting, I heard from one of the fellows that she couldn’t arrange a time with her couch as they were living so far and setting a time to talk was almost impossible for them. It would be better if the organizers consider time zones as an important criterion for group creations next time.
I have been so lucky to be a disciple of Omar Mansoor Ansari, Afghanistan’s senior ICT executive, and an award-winning technology entrepreneur, and to follow up his great schedule as well as wise advises before and during the meeting. Although he is from the business sector and my interests are more in the noncommercial side of the IG, it was constructive to discover ICANN from a different perspective.
My group members
I had two nice group mates. One was Jay Paudyal, a Tech Entrepreneur, founded various businesses/startups of different niches, like Education, E-commerce, PC Monitoring & Security, Online Media and Domain Aftermarket, from India. And the other was Vu The Binh, CEO of NetNam, one of the first ISP in Vietnam. I learned from both of them and found them both as an expert, knowledgeable, and modest characters. The beautiful souvenir Binh brought us was another nice reminiscence of being a member of this fantastic group.
Skype calls and guests
We had many Skype calls and been introduced to each other and shared our previous experiences regarding ICANN or IG meetings. More importantly, we had some assignments to do for each next sessions. The main and the most imperative one was to finish the special course for ICANN Fellows in ICANN Learn. Our last three sessions were perfectly good because of the guests we had. Marylin Cade, one of the first to be proactively involved with ICANN and ICANN BC, shared us the story of BC from the beginning till now. She asked us not to choose our home within the enormous ICANN, before visiting every small home there first. The “parable of Blind men and an elephant” was so appropriate about the relationship between us, new members, and ICANN.
Sarmad Hussain, IDN Programs Director, the second guest introduced IDN-Program to us and shared some of the real examples. Jay had already been working on this area professionally and I also joined the group later too. You can read more about IDN Program here: https://www.slideshare.net/icannpresentations/icann-52l-idn-program-update and here:
The third guest was Baher Esmat, Vice President of Stakeholder Engagement for the Middle East at ICANN. He has introduced ICANN and its structure to us. Also, he explained about MEAC-SWG group in which I was a member since months before. Siranush was the special guest of the Skype calls we had and again it was delightful to see her care and support all the time.
Besides all the things I learned before the meeting I would like to share a picture I was looking at most of the time to remember the main core parts of ICANN and I strongly suggest everyone try to learn it too.
During the Meeting:
If you take a look at this photo you would know better about the meeting you’re attending. Then, all your expectations regarding to know everything or even most of the things related to Internet Governance would be faded soon. So, I didn’t expect anything more than knowing new people, making some new connections, being brave to start talking to strangers and not waiting for them to come to me, as well as cementing what I learned before meeting by attending different sessions.
Feeling welcomed and supported
The best part of being a fellow is the unconditional support you receive. And of course, all the free services you’re provided with, give you a strong desire for compensation.
Fellows Special Sessions
Mandatory sessions for the fellows were held as follows:
On Saturday there were three sessions for us, two of them were mandatory one was Non-for-Profit Operational Concerns (NPOC) Outreach Event. and 15:15–18:30 and the other one was GNSO Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) Outreach Meeting.
I got the pleasure to meet Maryam Bakoushi , a very active lady, after reading her informative emails on NCUC mailing list. NPOC’s goal is to represent the operational concerns of civil society organizations within ICANN ecosystem. This group fights for the organization rights in case of domain name registration. As long as any non-for profit and non-governmental organizations have their own registered domain name they can join this group. For more information about this group you can visit their website: http://www.npoc.org/
The session for NCUC outreach was also very pleasant as I finally got the chance to meet Farzaneh Badii in person who is the Iranian successful lady, a very active member of IG related topics and the previous chair of NCUC, they said goodbye to her in this meeting and this is her reply to them on her twitter: “They said goodbye to me as NCUC chair. But I am coming back :) #icann60”. The main activities of NCUC have been discussed and also the differences between them and NPOC and their missions also again was being mentioned. Let me share one of my favorite quotes of her too: “At-Large members are moderates while NCUC members are extremists!”
On Sunday we, fellows, had a session to knowing each other in the morning. Here you can see a short video created of all fellows’ photos: https://animoto.com/play/sLLMcuhXZb3gw3L0jKzYSw
Luckily, rest of the sessions from Monday to Friday, the last session for wrapping up the week, all started at noon and we also had the chance to have our lunch during the sessions. We took advantage of the presence and speeches of many senior executives and top level staff or members of ICANN during the sessions and an excellent participation form fellows can be seen there too.
Other important sessions I attended
- Middle East space on Wednesday, November 1, 10:30–12:00
It was the inaugural Middle East Space session. The session focused on the ICANN Jurisdiction topic. And here you can read the related statement: https://schd.ws/hosted_files/icann60abudhabi2017/7b/Middle%20East%20Space%20Statement.pdf
2. MEAC SWG ICANN60 Open Session Thursday 2 November at 10.30–12.00
This session covered 4 main topics:
1. Enhancing MEAC-SWG’s Effectiveness and Impact
2. Assessing and Strengthening the DNS Industry
3. Improving Regional Academic Engagement in ICANN
4. Side Effects of Censoring Mobile Apps on the DNS Industry in the Region (You can watch this part here:
3. ICANNWIKI Edit-a-thon Monday, October 30 • 10:30–12:00
The ICANNWiki Edit-a-thon is a community-centered event aims to build and improve Internet governance and ICANN-related contents for stakeholders across the globe. During the meeting we, the Iranian team of Persian ICANNWIKI introduced us to others and some more Iranians and Afghans joined us to work together for providing Farsi contents on Persian ICANNWIKI. Here you can see a short video about ICANNWIK:
Two free sessions arranged by our couch
- Session with Dr. Sarmad Hussain about IDN
After the Skype call we had before the meeting Omar had arranged a time for a meeting with him and make sure if there is no need to be a very expert in linguistic or programming to join their working group. It was a helpful talk and the lady from Thailand was also introduced to us for further contacts or questions. I have also attended a session suggested by my group mate Jay about updates on Indian IDN Project.
2. Session with Zmarialai Wafa about SSAC
Another useful session arranged by our coach was with Zmarialai Wafa. He had explained the core works of SSAC (Security and Stability Advisory Committee) and showed us the way for more contribution with this group. You can watch a part of meeting I recorded here:
An important transition
Stephen D. Crocker, the inventor of the Request for Comments (RFC) series has said goodbye after many years of being the Father of ICANN. The cermony for convoying him at #ICANN60 was so impressive and memorable . You can watch the interview of ICANN’s Brad White with outgoing Board Chair, Steve Crocker, and new Board Chair, Cherine Chalaby, to discuss the future of the ICANN Board here:
Challenges and suggestions
As a nonnative English person, understanding all the words and phrases can be difficult when there is no pause for you to check the meaning of all the new words or phrases. Every meeting I attend, I can see the impairments inside me yet, still there is a space till real satisfaction. I also believe it as a challenge for most of the other nonnative participants.
The main solution would be from our side by practicing more and keep reading after meetings.
ICANN sessions are multi fields oriented. It is possible to be an expert in one or two of them but for the rests a prodigious number of self-studies and involvements is required in order to understand the talks better and also to be able to share your own unique point of view with others too.
Again, the main way to smooth the road is by reading and learning those basic implications of each field. However, some courses for beginners about economy, laws, and every other related fields can be helpful.
As most of the days fellows and all participants receive too much new information, it is really hard to digest all in the meeting specially for the new comers. When you feel overwhelmed by information it can affect your self-confidence or inner energies except if you repeat to yourself this is really normal and see it as an inevitable feeling in such huge gathering.
As long as you keep smiling and take a good rest every night there wouldn’t be serious problem for being energetic and cool until the end of this amazing meeting.
The way to contribute
The sentence, “We need more contribution from new comers”, can be heard from every working group you attend during the meetings. Although It drives you to the very high level of willing to participate you feel lost when it comes to real contribution. Then, you realize that there were no clear answer for the question of how to contribute. This issue had been arisen by Su Sonia on NCUC session and Farzaneh announced about an upcoming course to enlighten the way for new comers about the practical way for contribution of them after the meetings.
I also think introducing some role models whose participation is way useful and bold, can give us some useful tips and shorten the way too.
After the meeting
After ICANN60 was finished, I had two important tasks to do. Writing my stories about my experiences on ICANN58 and ICANN60. Those tasks are done and I can go for next steps with nothing remained left behind.
Regarding to my further contributions, I will keep myself updated about MEAC-SWG activities and try to help in their activities as much as my capabilities let me to do so. I also will continue to read NCUC emails to know about the way they push the dissections forward. There would be some resources about SSAC I will read them to see what has been done generally and to stay attached with the topics my study background,Information Security, is directly related to. Meeting Beran Gillen and talking to her encouraged me to stay in touch with technology and don’t switch to policy discussions completely. There is a mailing list for women in tech to which I will be added soon and after a while we can do something together.
Regarding to capacity building which is my main objective, I will try my best for arranging meetings with our team and push the project of Persian IG related contents forward with the help of other members. We will not only focus on the contents but also on the suitable audiences and best ways to find them. Our first meeting after ICANN60 has been held on Nov 20.
I would like to share my appreciations to all Fellowship staff and members for their kind and unconditional supports. Specially, to Dear Siranush. I will always remember what she has told me about her main passion of being here, ”People”.This word means a lot not only to her or me, but also to a lot of us and I believe connecting people is one of the best inspirations or motivations. Thank you for sharing all your experiences with us and for not only be a manager but a sister too. And the last but not the least, my respect and thanks to Dear Omar for being there whenever we needed him and even the times that we were busy but he didn’t forget about supporting us. Thank you for being a great couch! I hope we, the fellows, can also be productive for this amazing community.
And Thank you all for reading this personal story of mine about #ICANN60.