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Catching Up with Fellowship Alumni: Highlights from the Fellowship Survey Report

ICANN 51 Fellows Group Photo

The ICANN Fellowship program, now hosted by the Development and Public Responsibility Department (DPRD), has grown tremendously since first being held at ICANN 29 in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2007.

The over 600 alumni strong Fellowship program, provides an opportunity for eligible candidates from developing nations around the world to participate face to face with other members of ICANN’s Multistakeholder Community, through a "fast track" engagement experience, exposing Fellows to ICANN’s Community and processes.

In the hopes of continually improving our work and responding to the needs of our expanding diverse community, a survey was circulated to all alumni to capture key information on the Fellowship experience, including demographics, benefits of the program, effects on personal development, participation and barriers in the ICANN Community, areas for improvement, and the highlights of former Fellows.

  • "The fellowship thrusts you headfirst into the ICANN community! It gives you invaluable exposure to the Internet industry and its key leaders, especially if you're from a developing country, where this otherwise would be impossible. It gives much-needed structure to ICANN meetings, especially for newcomers. It also allows face-to-face interaction with community leaders (all the way up to the CEO), which is invaluable for newcomers."

- Chaitanya Ramachandran, fellow from India

A total of 154 Fellowship alumni responded to the questionnaire, providing largely positive insightful feedback and constructive commentary on the program.  

The DPRD was pleased to find and report that Fellowship alumni are overall very happy with their Fellowship experiences, with most all respondents scoring the Fellowship program with an 8 or higher (on a scale of 1-10) in regards to their personal development, networking opportunities, and in providing insight at the ICANN Meeting they may have not received if they attended on their own. These aspects, as well as exposure to the Multistakeholder model, Internet governance developments, and assistance with the vision or development of national or local projects, were also identified as some of the most beneficial aspects of the program, influencing the career paths of participants.

  • "I am highly enthusiastic to be a vocal advocate for the growth of the Internet in the Persian speaking countries. This fellowship and the meeting provided me with the necessary information and knowledge on the ICANN governance mechanism and its role in the Internet governance ecosystem. I hope to bring me experience to the Persian speaking community and help engage the latter with the different constituencies of ICANN."

- Shabnam, fellow from Iran

A key indicator that the program’s goal of capacity building is working would be that 88% of Fellowship alumni survey respondents currently participate in the ICANN community, demonstrating continuity and integration from the Fellowship program into the community through a variety of avenues including participation at ICANN Meetings and at other events in the Internet ecosystem, and by advocating for Internet issues in their home countries and regions.

Alumni were also encouraged to share their thoughts on areas in which the Fellowship program could improve. The top two areas identified for improvement were accepting more Fellows into the program, and assisting newcomers through a mentorship program.

  • "Creo que una barrera es el idioma, ICANN debe trabajar por hacer llegar a la comunidad toda la información en los diferentes idiomas y no solo en ingles."

"I think a barrier is language, ICANN must work to give the community information in different languages, not just English."

- Carlos Alberto Villaseñor Quesada, fellow from Costa Rica

The DPRD is looking into the possibility of expanding the numbers of the Fellowship program, while recognizing the importance of the closely-knit nature of the program, facilitated by small groups. The DPRD is also excited to announce that the Fellowship Coaching program, which started at ICANN #48 in Buenos Aires 2013 in pilot form, has been institutionalized as an integral part the program, addressing the need identified by alumni for mentorship of new Fellows.

  • "I now have been working as mentor to first time fellows, which is a great experience so far. Let me say this is the best fellowship program I have ever experienced, seen and heard of, for it is managed in a great way by Janice and team. She has been a great support, mentor and guide to all the fellows and always there to fight for them. :) The fellowship program will really need her to continue to flourish and produce next generation leader of the future Internet and to be able to ensure One World, One Internet."

- Zakir Syed, fellow from Pakistan

Lastly, alumni were asked to share highlights from their Fellowship experience. The top three thematic highlights included: the Fellowship community and network; meeting with senior leaders and experts; and the knowledge acquired on ICANN and the Internet ecosystem.

We look forward to continuing to improve the Fellowship program, and empowering new members to our community in their participation at ICANN and in the Internet ecosystem.

  • "I remember a lady came forth to me once at the first ICANN meeting I attended and said that she was impressed with my work and thought that I will one day be a change maker in the Internet community. Who knows? I may prove her right one day."

- Walid Al-Saqaf, fellow from Yemen

The full Fellowship Report, including next steps is available here.


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