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Anyone Can Be Involved in Internet Policy Development

26 January 2011

Tatiana Chirev

An interview with Fellowship Committee member Tatiana Chirev.

At the 2007 San Juan meeting, you participated in the first Fellowship Program ever held. How did you hear about the program, and what made you want to get involved?

I heard about the program from Veni Markovski, the Regional Relations Manager for Russia, CIS, and Eastern Europe. I was working at NIC.md and had no financial possibility to attend such meetings before, so I found the opportunity to become a part of the Fellowship program to be the answer to my need to learn more about the work going on within ICANN. Up to this point, the only information available to me was found at the icann.org webpage, but with no background, it was hard to fully comprehend the work.

What was your Fellowship experience like at your first ICANN meeting?

Like many others, at the beginning I wasn't sure what to expect from the Fellowship Program. At the first meeting I was quite disoriented, but I liked the atmosphere of the meeting, the process of work itself, and the opportunity for me to learn from professionals. I discovered that there is a lot of useful information at these meetings. I also saw that anyone can be involved in the processes of Internet policy development. It was challenging to understand what sessions to attend or not, as one thing I was afraid of was to miss out on something important. The topics being discussed were interesting, but still I needed some guidance. There were a lot of abbreviations being used that I didn't understand, but I eventually got used to them. Janice Douma Lange, our coordinator and mentor, was always there to guide us, as she does for all first-time Fellowship participants.

Did attending an ICANN meeting change your perspective of the work ICANN does in the Internet community? Did it change the ways you wanted to be involved in the community?

It is quite hard to realize from the distance what huge and impactful work is being done by ICANN and the entire Internet community. The multi-stakeholder model is perhaps at its best at ICANN, but it needs many volunteers to carry forth its necessary policy-building and the strengthening of Internet security and stability worldwide. I would say it did not change the way I want to be involved in the community; it changed how much I want to be involved. I would like to continue my contribution in a new way after my membership in the Fellowship Committee will end.

How were you involved in the Internet community before your first ICANN meeting with the Fellowship program?

Before the Fellowship Program, I was involved in a "Youth Leaders for Community Development through Internet Governance" project supported by the Global Knowledge Partnership Secretariat in partnership with DiploFoundation. I also participated in local Internet policy development through my employer for the ccTLD .MD.

How did your involvement in the community change after your first ICANN meeting?

I continue to share the information about ICANN and Fellowship Program through the molddata.md website to inform the local community about the opportunity to become a part of this program.

I started to be more involved in issues like Internet Governance by attending on-line courses, such as "The European Capacity Development Program in Internet Governance." With the financial support of NIC.md, we have undertaken the translation of the DiploFoundation's Internet Governance booklet. I am also the initiator of ISOC Chapter in Moldova, which is currently under formation and will bring more awareness about ICANN and Internet-related issues.

Based on the gathered knowledge from the ICANN meetings, we at NIC.md have implemented new services, such as ".MD via SMS" and a second-level Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) for .MD.

I also submitted an expression of interest to the NomCom, and in 2010 became a Fellowship Committee member.

What made you reapply for the Fellowship program for later meetings? What did you get out of those meetings?

I wasn't really prepared for my first meeting in San Juan. Several issues that were discussed at the meeting raised some questions and I wanted to have answers. This was one of the reasons I reapplied—to return with more experience and a better understanding of ICANN and the work going on at its meetings. But most importantly, I was so enthusiastic about the work I saw being done that I returned home motivated to begin contributing at the local level. I wanted to give back to the community, and especially to ICANN for the opportunity I had been given.

What aspects of Internet policy being developed right now interest you the most?

One of the ICANN's foundational principles is "to promote competition in the domain name marketplace." New gTLDs, although a controversial issue, are intended to give Internet users more choice.

The Fellowship Program exists to encourage global involvement in ICANN meetings and the work ICANN does in the Internet Community. How do you think things would change if the Fellowship program stopped running? Are there aspects of the program you would change, or is there anything you would add to the program?

The program has successful alumni that now are involved in the Internet community. I am sure we will continue to hear about many more. If this program stopped running, too many valuable voices from developing countries and emerging economies would be left without the community support and knowledge they could get only through this program and the face-to-face exchanges that occur at ICANN meetings. The interchange of ideas that begins at the ICANN meetings starts the networking between individuals, countries, and regions that builds knowledge to create needed changes and upgrades to existing systems. The Fellowship Program has evolved since its first round thanks to the people who maintain and coordinate it. I am sure it will continue its evolution with the community's support, as ICANN needs more strong volunteers to continue the mission and vision of a secure and stable Internet.

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