User:Exec8/ESEAP Conference 2018 Report
My experience in ESEAP 2018 is a fruitful one. It opened doors to opportunities for collaboration and also allowed people share their experience with individuals and emerging communities.
To get to know more about me, my experience and perspective of Wikimedia as a whole, it is published in a different section.
My involvement in ESEAP started actually midway. I am not part of the early collaborations in Washington DC Wikimania (2012), much more in the two recent Berlin Wikimedia conferences (2016, 2017) where the ESEAP conference was being formalized. The discussions on Pan-Asian collaboration during Montreal Wikimania (2017) opened the door for me to enter in the picture. I was invited by the host, Wikimedia Indonesia to join in one of the organizing committees. I gladly accepted the program committee because this is involved in the direction and core flow of the conference.
Being part of the conference gave me two things: a direct experience in the international conference event management which I will cherish and is vital if I will be involved again in the future and second, the opportunity to network with wikipedians across the East, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Focusing on the second outcome, the conference opened line of communication to learn things they are doing in their countries, both success stories challenges, and even failures. This also allowed Wikimedia Foundation to introduce themselves in this region often underrepresented in international conferences/ projects domainated by Europe, the Americas and India. The conference also allowed the region in the discussion and get involved in the early implementation of the Wikimedia 2030 Strategic Direction, which will offer Wikimedia resources as a product or service of choice for open and free movement of knowledge.
Wikimedians I met and Connections
For me, it allowed me to share my prior experience both as then key person of an affiliate and as an individual among nations and get to know them better. Having a small conference also allow me to know all participants and have opportunity to chat to all of them.
It strengthen my bond with Wikimedia Indonesia, which I am in connection since 2012 and be friends both their original members and new generation of volunteer leaders. Their unique style of engagement is worth learning especially in a country where many locations are accessible by plane or by boat and with different actively used local languages. Their way of remote collaboration can be applied to similar locations such as the Philippines.
It also allowed me to know affiliates that I have less known before such as Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea and allow me to understand their individual countries strategy in running an affiliate. I am actually happy to know that there are affiliates that still sustainable and not very dependent with the foundation's funds to keep their projects and outreach programs running.
It also opened my opportunity to meet key personalities in Wikimedia Australia, the next host, to impart my experience in this conference and work on improvements in the 2019 conference due to open in mid October 2019. As an established chapter, I also get to know their strategy of decentralization and having a liberal way of allowing people to run projects simultaneously in various locations in the country.
Being in a "dual loyalty" with Malaysia and the Philippines, allow me to help their country representatives and individuals impart their experience in projects and their "edit climate" to other particiapants.
I also salute the host to open opportunities of collaboration in new, emerging and often underrepresented community like East Timor. This also allowed me to know the activities in Brunei and East Malaysia (Sabah). Having no formal formation as an affiliate, Japan also pulled a great show of activities of huge impact. Opportunities in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia as one former affiliate official had a new role in bringing these communities emerge as vital player in Asian collaboration and will someday be a standalone affiliate. Myanmar, that is an emerging democracy have their community vibrant again after this conference. I am looking forward to help them like what I have done in Malaysia.
I salute Wikimedia Indonesia for taking care of the participants from start to finish, attend to their needs and effectively acknowledging feedbacks. Their focus on the action to fix problems rather than fault finding gave me an idea how difficult it is being a host. Bali as a conference venue is a very smart decision with its rich culture, convenience to facilities and warm hospitality of its locals. Conversing in English language is even not a barrier. WMID was able to learn the experience of event management of previous Wikimedia conferences and had a warm collaboration with Wikimedia Foundation to ensure the conference is timely and relevant.
A challenge to Wikimedia Australia that since everyone got involved in the conference, the new host got a lot a valuable feedback on how will it improves the conference in the future. Keep the conference as Oriental as possible, fulfill requests for longer workshops and imply the best practices from other hosts such as Berlin, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Zurich, and many others.
I look this conference as an ice breaker. Before the next conference in October 2019, I will embark in a tour of many cities and share "Wikimedianism" and learn their unique approach to make it as local as possible. This also opened opportunities for other Asian groups such as the South Asians to host a conference on their own given Asia as a very diverse area in the world. I also hope a Pan-Asia Pacific conference be held sooner than never, before the Wikimedia 2030 concludes.
Kecak Cultural Presentation during social event