ICANN55 Fellowship-Coaching Experience – Marrakech, Morocco, Mar 2016

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ICANN55 venue- Palmeraie Palace

I was awarded a Fellowship for the 3rd time by ICANN to attend and represent Palestine in ICANN55 event, Marrakech, Morocco, 5-10 March 2016, this time I was performing as a coach which enriched my experience and made it remarkable, here I’m sharing the story hoping to benefit everybody.

[For background information about ICANN and the fellowship program you may refer to my blog post about the first experience at Los Angeles HERE].

  • Motivation

Following my second participation in ICANN fellowship program of ICANN53-Buenis Aires I took my “sharing experience” to the next level by conducting three sessions about my journey with ICANN and the fellowship program, first one was in a local ISOC Palestine event, second was at University and third one was in a Youth Dialogue in Jerusalem , moreover, we as Wataniya Mobile Palestine has joined the ISPCP constituency group of ICANN and I’m the delegate to represent my employer.
These achievements qualified me to gain a third fellowship with ICANN, and this time I applied as a coach to advance in my “fellowship career path” as well as to be able to guide a group of new comers and share my experience among them, also focusing on the ISPCP that we joined recently was a major interest.

  • ICANN55 Fellowship participants 

37 fellows from Business, Technical, Civil society, Government and Academic fields participated in the program from 30 countries, full list can be found Here.

  • Palestine team

It’s worth-mentioning that I was awarded this fellowship along side my colleague at the Internet Society Board – Nadira Alaraj (Coach & second-time fellow) and my colleague at Wataniya Mobile Olga Bimbashi (first time fellow), so our team was strong, diverse; covering technical, civil society and legal areas, interestingly, most countries were represented by one participant only while it was three in our case!.

Despite the fact we are coming from different fields; we were one team; coordinating and collaborating as much as we could to get the most out of the experience.

  • VISA

Getting a VISA for Morocco was a piece of cake, it took less than 24 hours to get issued following our appointment with the Moroccan Ambassador and with no fees!, I realized the local host invitation letter did the job.

  • Coaching Experience – my team
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Left to right: Anand, me, Hashim & Mohammad

At first, three new comers were assigned to me: Anand Raje – India, Hashim Nouman and Waqqas Mir from Pakistan, the latter couldn’t make it due to VISA challenges so Muhammad Shabbir (Pakistan) was added to the team instead.

  • Pre-meeting preparations

Before the meeting, Our primary platform to communicate was Skype, where we used to chat and discuss various topics related to ICANN, as a coach I did my best to get the guys prepared for the upcoming meeting:

  1. we started by introducing ourselves to each other, knowing our backgrounds, experience, highlighting targets and goals of participation.
  2. Then I moved to share useful material about ICANN and the meeting, I’m a self-study believer so I was always giving them the chance to read and know more themselves.
  3. After that, I asked my team to look into the different constituencies of ICANN, as each participant should stick with one of them at the end of the day.
  4. In the last week, I asked my team members to prepare their own schedule, I reviewed them and tried to have the most effective plan for everyone.
  5.  I shared my previous blog posts with the team to give closer look about the meeting nature.
  6. Finally, I made sure that the Multi-stakeholder model is well understood.
  7. During the meeting days, I created a WhatsApp group to keep in close touch, and I was sending suggested sessions to follow on a daily basis.
  • Marrakech Arrival

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Arrived early, checked-in my hotel and went for a walk in the city to explore Morocco/Africa for the  1st time!.

In the following paragraphs, I’ll be highlighting the most important things for each day.

  • Day 1 – warming up

As coaches, we were scheduled to arrive one day earlier to have a meeting + dinner at night to prepare for the week, our meeting was informative interaction as we shared our perceptions about the coaching experience, discussed methods to guide and help our teams in their new journey.

At night, there was a lovely gathering with coaches, NextGen folks and ICANN staff, I reunited with many friends, gained new ones as well, especially from MENA region!.

  • Day 2 – Kicking-off 

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Meet & Greet, this is the very first mandatory session for first time fellows, and maybe the most important one ever where you get introduced to ICANN people and the fellowship program.

Here I introduced my self, spoke briefly about my journey in the past, my goals of the week. After that, I stayed at the same room and attended the new comers sessions, they weren’t new for me but repetition is good in ICANN case!.

At the evening, there was a networking session with ICANN people, with some delicious food and drinks.

  • Day 3 – Fadi Chehade Day!
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Fadi Chehade is speaking

In the Welcoming Ceremony, Fadi Chehade gave his last speech as ICANN CEO after a touching movie about his journey!, this guy would stay an inspiring story for thousands of people around the globe, including me :).

At the afternoon, I attended Middle East Strategy update session which was a must for me as a fellow from Middle east, I figured out that ICANN is growing in our region and there’s a good potential for more contribution and reach out, here comes our role as Fellows to act like messengers; to raise awareness and engage more people.

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At night, we enjoyed AFRALO Social event which was like a Farewell party to Fadi Chehade as well.

  • Day 4 – ISPCP day

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Started with the morning session, Anthony Harris – ISPCP vice chairman spoke about the constituency and encouraged us to join it (we already did), I saw him after the session , exchanged business cards and agreed to meet again in the constituency event at the afternoon.

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ICANN meetings always have lots of fun

At afternoon, I attended the long ISPCP session, there was important presentation and discussion about the latest developments and hot topics such as IANA stewardship and universal acceptance which I think is one of the most important topics nowadays, the constituency is trying to make sure that the new TLDs are accepted everywhere without technical problems whatsoever.

  • Day 5 – NextGen Session!
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Nadira Alaraj & I during our session

This day was different, instead of attending the morning session of ICANN fellowship program, Nadira & I went to the NextGen morning session to present about our journey with ICANN and to speak about ways to engage in our regions, community and the global internet space.

Nadira started by introducing ourselves, talked about ICANN and the benefit of its meetings, gave useful tips and advice to NexGen people to engage more and being successful each in his/her area, then she handed the stage over to me.

I believe that a success leads to another one, and achieving a milestone opens more challenges, that’s why I presented my journey in a timeline fashion, from my very first fellowship (ICANN51-LA) and SmackTeam to IETF92 Fellowship, to ISOC Palestine board membership to ICANN53, passing through my sessions of ICANN in Palestine-Jordan and my employment promotion all the way until my participation as a coach in ICANN55 Fellowship program.

I also encouraged them to use well-established organization to speak about ICANN experiences and reach out to the local community, such as IEEE, Internet Society, in addition to universities and academic institutes always welcome such activities. And there’s no conflict at all, these entities are inter-related, working towards achieving similar goals.
Thankfully, my presentation was successful and I consider it an important landmark in my journey!, I’m saying that because it was my first time to give a talk without any slides, and in full English language, not to mention the confidence and comfort :). Moreover, the feedback that I heard from the audience made me extremely happy and satisfied.

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With Fahd Batayneh, our first meeting after knowing each other online for many years

Before the afternoon, there was a Middle-East gathering and informal talks with Baher Esmat and Fahd Batayneh about the challenges in the region, our thoughts and perception of the meeting so far, always good to be in touch with the regional staff.

At night, we went out for Gala night which was organized by the local host (Agence Nationale de Reglementation des Telecommunications Maroc), the atmosphere was amazing, full of Moroccan/Arab culture, warm hospitality, delicious food and nice gifts!.

  • Last day – Wrapping up
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Alumni group pic

The wrapping up day, which I don’t like much! as I had to say goodbye to many friends, in the morning session each one of us spoke about his week and experience.

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Last morning session

At the evening, I attended the Wrap-up cocktail, gained new friends and bid farewell to others!.

  • Summary

Being a coach, gave me the flexibility to have an efficient participation, by picking the most important sessions, focusing on specific topics and meeting interesting people anytime.
I also earned leadership skills under ICANN umbrella by being responsible for group of newcomers and exposed continuously to many questions from coachees which  sometimes- forced me to read/dig in to give answers, that was useful and priceless added value!.

Thank you ICANN, Mama J, Jeannie, Naveed, Fellows and friends for the awesome opportunity, looking forward to meeting again :).

  • Team members impressions
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Hashim, Mohammad and Ananad

The post-meeting reports of my awesome team made me happy!, The experience was very beneficial; they learned much, gained useful connections, had fun, became successful Alumni with clear vision to excel; each in his field of interest.

Anand Raje had good experience in relevant technical aspects such as E-Governance, DNS, DNS security and BGP, he explored ICANN structure and found himself fitting in the RSSAC and SSAC areas, he followed the related activities, cleared many queries about Root server operations, had fruitful talks with leaders from India and the world and he got excited about ICANN Wiki!.
Ananad is planning to get involved more with RASSC and SSAC activities and gradually working towards contribution and becoming a member, also he’ll be following IDNs Emails and At-Large activities of ISOC Kolkata Chapter.

Finally, He’ll be contributing to ICANNwiki, by initially writing two articles, promoting their work and providing articles from India with a target of 100 in one year!.

Hashim Nouman Knew about ICANN in the South Asian Network Operators Group – meeting #25 where he realized that the Internet was run by much more than Network Engineers and technical people like him!, he became aware of Internet Governance and other related terms which motivated him to participate efficiently in the fellowship program of ICANN.
In the meeting, Hashim focused on technical sessions (such as DNS-Sec), enjoyed Networking with too many people from ICANN and the technical community and had much fun.
He gained more information about the ISPCP constituency and he’s planning to join it very soon considering the fact he’s working for an ISP, also he’ll get involved more with APRALO, write stuff for ICANN-Wiki and keep exploring ICANN world!.

Mohammad Shabbir, as a student of International relations, was looking forward to learning more about the Internet governance and getting answers about various relevant questions, also he was concerned about the Internet accessibility for persons with disabilities. Mohammad attended different kind of sessions related to ICANN policies, DNS operations, IANA function and Security and others, he found them useful and easy to understand even for newcomers with no previous experience.
According to him, the experience was outstanding!, however he has some suggestions to improve the program with focus on Persons With Disabilities (PWDs): To make the online fellowship application and IOS phone application accessible for PWDs, especially who are visually impaired, also having one accessible building for all conference sessions would be more convenient.
For the future, Mohammad is planning to get advantage of the experience he gained to play a role in ICANN community, and to facilitate access of blind persons in Pakistan to the Internet, also he’s intending to join ICANN cross community accessibility working group.

As a quick comment, I’m really proud of having such professional, dedicated and promising team!.

  • About Morocco
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In Casablanca, at Hassan II Mosque, by the Atlantic Ocean

Morocco is a great country to visit, has many tourists attractions and things to do, I spent most of my time in Marrakech which is one of the top touristic destinations in the world!, and spent one night in Casablanca which is more into Business rather then tourism.
Marrakech (the red city) is full of civilization and historical places,on the other hand outside the Medina you find the “new” Marrakech as well, so there’s kind of unique mixture between East/West, ancient and modern.

Morocco cuisine is delicious, I loved Pastilla and Couscous dishes :).

People are friendly, guest-welcoming, and being a Palestinian was a plus!, they were getting extremely excited as soon as they knew where I do come from.

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Morocco souvenirs  ❤

  • Places to remember

Jemaa el Fna, Koutoubia Mosque, Jardin Majorelle, Medina, Gueliz, Starbucks, Atay Cafe, Palmeraie ,Station Marrakech, Hassan II Mosque & Atlantic ocean.

 

Peace.~Osama Tamimi, Jerusalem-Palestine, 2/4/2016

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