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Growing the Internet 2 July 2015

Travel Lessons: It’s People Who Build the Internet

Raúl Echeberría
By Raúl EcheberríaFormer Vice President, Global Engagement, and Former Trustee

June is now behind us. It was a month of extensive traveling and filled with activities – travels and important lessons I’d like to share with you.

The month was an amazing experience that friendships and trust are just as important when it comes to building the Internet as technology.

The first week of June found me in Bulgaria. Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, hosted EuroDIG, the European Dialogue on Internet Governance, a meeting that could be called the European IGF. The meeting was very interesting and the debates highly rewarding. The event was well attended by everyone who as a stake in the Internet .

It was very gratifying for me not only to be part of a panel during a session and to speak from the floor during others, but also to witness the excellent participation of the entire Internet Society team led by our European colleagues and the role of our European Chapter representatives.

Speaking of the European ISOC Chapters, let me say that, to me, they were the cherry on top of my trip. A large number of ISOC Chapter representatives were present at EuroDIG, most of them serving in major roles within their regional community. The situation was ideal for organizing an activity with our Chapters, so we organized a workshop on the day immediately prior to the EuroDIG event. It was excellent, and many new ideas emerged. It’s highly encouraging to see all these colleagues willing to devote their time and energy based on shared values ​​and common convictions to further our mission.

In short, it was a great event, ISOC made a valuable contribution, and we had the chance to work with our excellent Chapters.

Now, if the first part of my trip was good, nothing but the same can be said of the next leg of my trip – from Sofia, I traveled to Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka. The mission: to participate in the regional workshop for ISOC Chapters from the Asia-Pacific region and INET Colombo, organized by the Sri Lanka ISOC Chapter to mark the 20th anniversary of the Internet in their country.

The energy at the workshop was unsurpassable. Sensitized by the recent natural disasters in Nepal and Vanuatu and motivated by the great work of the ISOC Nepal Chapter, some of the key discussions focused on what to do in these cases and what might be the best way for the ISOC community to contribute in such situations. The collective work completed during the workshop was very productive, and participants’ faces and attitudes clearly showed their desire to return to their communities to start implementing the ideas discussed under various topics.

The turnout for INET Colombo was wonderful – More than 200 people permanently on site and around 800 participating remotely from various nodes throughout the country.

The event was also a very emotional one. The presence of people who during the past 20 years have played a major role in Internet development within the island alongside the numerous recognitions and awards they were presented made for a very emotional event.

As if all of the above were not enough, I had the opportunity to meet with four honorable members of the Internet Hall of Fame – our host, Chairman of the Sri Lanka ISOC Chapter and member of the ISOC Board, Gihan Dias; Prof. Kilnam Chon; Abhava Induruwa; and Kanchana Kanchanasut.

On my last day in Sri Lanka, Joyce Dogniez, ISOC Director of Chapters, and I were invited to visit an ISOC Sri Lanka project outside the city of Colombo. The project involves training war veterans – who were disabled as a result of their participation in the civil war the country endured for 27 years – in the use of ICTs. Thanks to this project, these young individuals – all of them under the age of 35 – are finding new job and personal growth opportunities. This great project allowed us to see an example of how ICTs can help solve concrete needs for many individuals.

From Sri Lanka I flew to Amsterdam, where we had a meeting with ISOC’s Executive Team. Our work together allowed us to pause and reload, review the work done so far this year, and plan ahead for the rest of 2015. These face-to-face meetings with colleagues with whom I interact daily via videoconferencing are always a welcome experience.

From Amsterdam on to ICANN 53 in Buenos Aires, where I arrived just in time for dinner with participants of the workshop for ISOC Chapters from the Americas, which we organized in Buenos Aires during the days prior to the ICANN meeting – an excellent way to kick off my week in Buenos Aires.

This was a week of many and intense discussions, with an agenda clearly marked by the IANA functions stewardship transition and multiple opportunities to meet with our partners, ISOC members, Chapters, and major players of the Internet community in general. No doubt, a very fruitful week during which the highpoint for ISOC was the traditional [email protected] event, held with a new format which turned out to be very attractive to all participants. This space allowed the encounter between different individuals committed to the same goals and who find pleasure in discovering we are not alone in this adventure.

And thus the month ended – a month of travels, conversations, different realities, all of them with something in common. From Sofia to Sri Lanka and over to Buenos Aires, the people of ISOC showed their commitment, contribution and dedication to the hope of a brighter future for everyone who uses the Internet.

At the moment of writing this blog entry, I’m already preparing my bags to hit the road once again. This time I’m traveling to New York, where I will join my colleagues of the ISOC New York Chapter to participate in Intercommunity 2015, our new global event, where I hope to meet all of you, who are now scattered around the world. Some of you I’ve met with during the past month and others I’ll meet at future events.

See you at #ICOMM15!! It all happens from 7 – 8 of July. Save the date!

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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