I participated and represented Palestine in ICANN53 week in Buenos Aires – June 2015 as a part of ICANN fellowship program, I gained more knowledge, experience about ICANN and various technical topics related to the Internet, I had the chance to network and interact with professionals from all over the world, I met old and new friends and had much fun, the experience was really extraordinary and worth sharing with everyone :).
I had the best coach ever!, Janice Douma Lange -the fellowship program manager in person (AKA Mama J), who I thank for her continuous efforts, she was aware of my interests in technical issues such as IPv6, DNSSEC and new gTLD,so she introduced me to key persons in the industry who I met later and talked to them many times during the event and will be in touch afterwards for sure!.
Well, surprisingly I had some difficulties in getting Argentinian VISA! despite my good travel history and different VISAs that I hold, what happened that I conducted my interview two months prior to the event and unfortunately they delayed me till the last day!, I got my VISA on Wednesday and flew on Friday!, this issue distracted me a bit and put me under a lot of stress instead of fully focusing on the upcoming intensive week.
While waiting for VISA, my main concern was: what If I miss this event? this was unimaginable for me!,it’s not about missing a “normal event” and make it up later, it was about missing whole bunch of great things together: ICANN event, reunion with Los Angeles friends and meeting new ones, visiting the country that I’m supporting its national football team since I was 9 years old :’).
In this context, I would like to thank Mama Janice, Joseph and ICANN people for their support! they extended the deadline to confirm VISA several times and stood with me till I got it!.
- Buenos Aires Arrival
It was great to meet two fellows in my layover in Rome!, Nadira from Palestine and Hamza from Tunisia, then I had my longest flight ever towards Buenos Aires! (14-hour direct flight, Alitalia airlines), we arrived early,checked in Melia hotel smoothly then went out for quick tour in the city to explore South America for the first time!, and in the evening we had some cool gathering and I reunion-ed with some Smack Team members, old and new friends!.
- ICANN53 Fellowship Program
We were 50 person representing 38 country from all over the world and from various fields (Academic, End User, Security, Civil society, technical, government ..etc), and now I’ll start writing about the event day by day highlighting the most important things.
- ICANN53 First Day
It started at 6:45 with the Fellows meet & Greet!, nice gathering where we met some old friends and got to know new ones, this session is aimed to introduce about ICANN and the coming days and it’s very important for new comers to know where they fit among many ICANN communities and constituencies, moreover each one us spoke a bit about his/her expectations and goals, for me I said that I’m going to focus on the hot technical topics such as IPv6, DNSSEC, new TLD to get more knowledge about them so I can spread the word at home and contribute to the Internet development, as attending one event (ICANN51) wasn’t enough to master these topics!, also I mentioned that there’s kind of magic with ICANN fellowship program! where you bond with fellows and colleagues which makes it hard to leave!, just like what happened with the Smack Team and ICANN51 fellows of Los Angeles :).
Later on, I followed “How it works” series, there were couple of interesting sessions about “Internet Networking” and “Domain Name Registry protocols“, the first one was handling Routing and IP addressing issues, while the other was about DNS and its protocols, both were basics actually with no deep technical details, this series of sessions is very suitable for beginners.
At the evening, there was a social event for ICANN people, I had the chance to meet Richard Lamb-ICANN in person for the 1st time, we discussed several topics related to DNS and technology and he’s really helpful and cool guy!, also I was able to interact with professionals and experts from everywhere, the great thing about such events is that you can reach out easily and directly to key persons in the field.
As usual, our day started with the Fellows morning session and I had the pleasure to meet Mr.Tony Holmes (ISP constituency chairman) for the first time, his part was the most interesting for me as an Engineer working in the ISP domain, during discussions I was surprised that very few memberships are from Middle East area in this constituency which is a good motivation for me to work through my employer to join it!, also we had speakers from Intellectual property and At-Large constituencies.
After that we have been to the official Welcome Ceremony, many speakers from ICANN (Dr. Steve Crocker, Fadi Chehade) and NIC Argentina (the local host) and others welcomed everybody and introduced about the event,
Then, I spent most of my day in the Tech-day session which consists of several technical presentations related to DNS, security and others, actually this session is a must to be in touch with what’s going on in this area and I always feel at home in it :).
Finally, I attended the DNSSEC For Everybody session and I was extremely excited to see the Skit that I saw in the past couple of times!, this part stays the best for me in explaining the DNSSEC concept in a funny and simple way and I fully respect the “actors” who perform it professionally :), and to explain the DNSSEC shortly: it’s a mechanism to make sure that DNS answers (when resolving URLs to IPs) are genuine and no one manipulated them.
After the morning session, I attended “Infrastructure, Access, Interconnection and IXPs” session, it was managed by LAC (Latin America) communities and we heard several stories about the Internet situation and the Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) in these countries, the IXP is an infrastructure that connects all national ISPs together so they can transport local traffic directly (locally) without going to the worldwide Internet, it’s an essential element in the Internet these days to improve the Internet quality and user experience.
Then, I have been to Internet Service Provider and Connectivity Providers Constituency (ISPCP) session which I was very interested to attend, actually this constituency where I fit the best among others considering my technical experience, it gives ISPs the chance to discuss ICANN issues related to the ISP industry, also it follows up the IANA stewardship, new TLD universal acceptance and other relevant issues.
Before the end of the session I had to leave to catch up with NextGen sessions to attend my friends presentations: Marilia-Brasil (from the Smack Team of LA) who presented about Privacy Governance in Cyper Space and Bruno-Paraguay who spoke about the Internet development in his country.
I started with the morning session then spent most of my time in the DNSSEC workshop, which is kind of full day about DNSSEC deployment and related issues, at first we listened to Latin America activities in this domain and we got to know that Argentina country-code domain (.ar) was able to implement DNSSEC successfully just several days prior to the event which was an excellent achievement and a challenge for them to make it since they are the host of the whole event!.
After this I concluded that you need to have dedication and huge efforts to implement the DNSSEC successfully and actually it’s worth it!, otherwise you are exposed to high risks and vulnerability, simply if you wanna open X website; some evil guy might spoof the DNS answer and direct you to a dangerous place to steal your information and harm you!, that’s why the DNSSEC is highly important to accomplish authentication and integrity.
Moreover, DANE concept was introduced; it stands for DNS-based Authentication of Named Entities and it’s a protocol that uses TLS (Transport Layer Security) to encrypt DNSSEC transactions.
After that, we as Middle East fellows had a meeting with Baher Esmat from ICANN who’s responsible for Stakeholder Engagement in the region, we discussed several issues and challenges and I addressed three points: To have more visits by ICANN people to the region, to create university programs to involve more students as well as to pick more fellows to represent more countries, these suggestions would raise the awareness about ICANN and engage much more people to participate and contribute.
At the evening, while I was listening to Mr.Richard Lamb who was speaking about DNSSEC during the Fellows after noon session I suddenly felt nostalgic and sadness! I was looking around and thinking that my Argentinian journey would come to its end soon and I would miss these days badly, then I posted this on Facebook:
Then, there was an informal event organized by LACRALO (Latin America and the Caribbean Islands Regional At-Large Organisation), many high-profile speakers participated and we got to know about this organization activities, also there was kind of cultural session that included several dancing shows from Latin America, the most interesting one was TANGO dance! and I was surprised that it was so touching and emotional :).
- Last Day of the event
The last day of the program has come; and my plan was to get the most out of it!, it started with the morning session as usual, Mr.Fadi Chehade visited us and spoke about his success story to inspire us, also he assured that “The Fellowship program is the most successful program ever of ICANN”! which made us proud indeed.
After that, each one of us spoke about his/her experience and future plans, for me I certainly assured that it was an amazing experience where I gained much more information about technical topics such as DNSSEC, IPv6 and new TLD issues, and I’ll be sharing the whole experience with the local community, regarding my future plans: I will be working through my employer on implementing IPv6 on our ISP infrastructure as well as to join the ISP constituency, and will be working through the local Internet Society to raise awareness about DNSSEC and to work with .PS guys to implement this technology and overcome many challenges that prevent us from doing so, then we took many group pics and created cool memories to remember forever.
After the morning session we had launch at La Brigada restaurant, I ate so delicious meat! and the surrounding environment was full of the national football team pride which is great for Argentinian team fans like me 🙂 ; Maradona, Batistuta, Messi and so many pics, cups and flags were around us!, We came back to catch up with the Public Forum which is a good chance for everyone to speak with ICANN top management and ask whatever questions.
Osama Tamimi (Sam) (@OaTamimi) June 26, 2015
Finally, at the evening we had a cocktail party where all ICANN53 participants meet and network for the last time, the good part that you can see all people you want, on the other hand you have to say Goodbye to too many friends :).
- Entertainment after the event
Now I can say that I’m done with ICANN53 event and will speak a little about some entertainment activities afterwards, thankfully ICANN travel team is so flexible, so I asked them to book my return-ticket two days after ICANN to spend more time in the country.
In the first “free day” we had a nice tour in Buenos Aires where we visited La Boca, La Recoleta cemetery, Plaza de Mayo, Floralis Generica and other attractions and we had so much fun! though unfortunately I had to say goodbye to more friends who were leaving the country back home 😦 , that’s why my feelings were mixed in the final days!.
At night, we were planning to watch Argentina Vs Columbia match (Copa America cup) in a good place together, our plan got spoiled and I ended up watching it in a cafe close to my hotel, it was something unprecedented for me to watch a match for my favorite team with locals in Buenos Aires :), needless to say the cup were held in Chile otherwise I would have watched it onsite, fortunately Argentina won but I was surprised that there were no worth-mentioning reactions or celebrations in streets! I asked my friends and I understood that people don’t care much about Cope America and they’re much more interested in the World cup.
Next day, I had some walk around Buenos Aires city center and bought souvenirs, then I had a nice trip with a friend of mine by train to Tigre which is a town that has many small streams and rivers, situated in the north of Buenos Aires, we enjoyed our time and had a cool boat trip as well!.
At night, we had our last gathering, hung out around the downtown and bid farewell to each other hoping that we meet again in the near future :).
- Leaving back home