Overcoming challenges on internet policy making: #ICANN58 coaching experience

Team LAC 1st – Renata, Alexis, Antonella and Malisa

Internet policy making processes change everyday. Their importance, however, only increases. The internet policy making arena at ICANN, encompassing all things related to DNS (Domain Name System), are an incredibly complicated labyrinth for someone to roam through alone. Having a support system which can help guide you through the maze and daze of everyday is crucial, and this is what I realized in my second experience of being a coach in the ICANN Fellowship Program.

ICANN Fellowship Program – A beyond dreams experience

A researcher’s carreer is very far from basking in light of wisdom under a shiny sun, while reading your pile of favorite books. One gets to run from one university to the other, teach 14h a day sometimes, write until your fingers fall off, do lots of unpaid jobs to some very unworthy people, all that while fighting your government not to cut off everybody’s grants and solving the rain of ethical dilemmas that always pour once a day.

That is why I grew to learn and cherish opportunities which help someone showcase a work, a project or even a dream which they wouldn’t do if it wasn’t for that one chance. I’ve had opportunities outside of ICANN (fellowships, travel support etc.), I’ve received my more than fair share of denials (reasons: not too bright, not too powerful/connected, not too published, not too centrally located, not too young, not too old). But I will have to say: to me, ICANN fellowship is not only a dream opportunity, but now a beyond dreams experience.

A dream can be seen as a projection of your future right? Well, if it depends on the dreams of the team of fellows which I had the opportunity to know this time, it is much more than that. Dreams are powerful tools that you use to change reality. This is what Antonella Perini, Alexis Anteliz and Malisa Richards taught me. A lesson I should have learned with my amazing 1st team of fellows, but I guess I was only now ready for it. So this is my report on their story and how they changed their own reality.

Antonella Perini: The challenge of rethinking the Global South in any geography

Research in civil society is growing stronger and diving deeper into issues in internet governance than many universities. In fact, how a civil society researcher acts is how Argentina researcher Antonella Perini dealt with her challenges at ICANN58.

To become involved in internet policy making a lot of preparation is required and that can come not only from readings but by actually giving input to processes and talking to actors within these activities. Having been awarded a civil society travel support fellowship to the IGF, Antonella Perini already had known in IGF many civil society actors within ICANN and spent time at ICANN and NCUC booths. This knowledge helped her incredibly in dialoguing about internet policy making in ICANN. Next step was identifying who could give her a global view on internet policy making, which she could adapt to her activity. Hence, her dialogue in a mentoring session with Avri Doria taught me more perhaps than I could ever teach her, and it was a fantastic experience in the possibilities of internet policy making in ICANN.

Alexis Anteliz: The challenge of overcoming cultural barriers and contextualizing efforts

Any country in the world can be involved in internet policy making. Alexis Anteliz overcame great barriers in his own country to be able to do that. Venezuela does not emit passports in the same rate it did in the past among many other changes in the country. Travel arrangements are a huge part of making the fellowship successful since with US transit and other document demands it would be much harder for a venezuelan participant to be in Europe.

After overcoming local barriers, Alexis still had other cultural and linguistic barriers to surpass. Already knowledgeable of ICANN, LACRALO was his first port of action, in a events co-sponsored by ICANN a long time ago. This time, Martin Silva Valent presented GNSO in a mentoring session and actions LAC community can work from inside it, which gave Alexis a very interesting perspective into the future of ICANN and was a lesson for me too.

Malisa Richards: The challenge of a journey into realizing full potential

If there was ever a reason why opportunities like the fellowship program exist is that of bringing to the light people, countries, and even whole regions of the world which wouldn’t otherwise get to be known if it wasn’t for the push given by the program. This was in Malisa Richards report and I fully agree. It was only because of the potential she already had of an educator, a social entrepreneur and an academic that she could take advantage of the many facets of the policy making work at ICANN.

The moment which I remember most of this journey was the conversation with Joan Kerr, who presented GNSO policy making from this multifaceted perspective and Malisa could then see the steps she could follow on the ICANN58 meeting. This moment proved that realizing one’s own potential is key into using your abilities and knowledge to interact in spaces so complex such as the multitrack, multiwork ICANN meetings.

Onsite and online continuous challenges

During ICANN58, it was like being in a hurricane. We met several times to exchange experiences, check schedules, discuss parallel meetings and yet, none of it seemed to be enough. There was always something else to cover, more information to know or other meetings to go. Even so, we did realize how much was accomplished, the interconnection of knowledge of other internet policy making arenas such as IGF and ICANN into the work of ICANN.

It was an amazing journey which hasn’t ended yet. All 3 fellows are engaged in spaces in ICANN and being part of policy discussions, leadership selections and even opportunities of new fellowships. The freedom to choose where one wants to act in the internet policy making debates and to represent their region, their country and their goals is exhilirating and I’m happy it seemed they got a taste for that too.

I’m very grateful for this experience, for the guidance of the fellowship team Siranush Vardanyan and Janice Douma Lange, who I admire deeply for keeping such a wonderful program running. And for all the community veterans who were so kind to talk to us. But most of all, to my fellows team, LAC 1st, the ones I’ll never take for granted. Thanks!

Blog with coaching experience materials

Community veterans on mentoring sessions – Thank you!

Our gratitude to the community pioneers who talked to us:
Dev Anand Teelucksingh
Maritza Aguero
Martin Valent
Avri Doria

Our schedules (a work always in progress)





Fellowship reports:


Alexis Anteliz:

Malisa Richards


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