Dear Loyal Blog Reader – here, there, everywhere! (if only you knew how I am blogging today I promise you will appreciate me so much more, will upload a picture at the end of the entry, that is, if I manage to finish this post in one piece).
Anyhow, back to why I am writing today. I love it when young people (girls in particular, call me biased if you like) in my society do amazing things and contribute to its development. I have seen artists, writers, young activists, volunteers etc. but this one is a unique one. Believe me! In fact, on behalf of all Wikipedia volunteers around the world Ravan recently accepted a special prize.
I was speaking to my friend Shan a while back, she told me about her Wikipedia addiction, and about Ravan’s initiative with young people in Erbil for editing Wikipedia content.
People organize marathons, walkathons, movie-athons etc. Electronics and telecommunications engineer, Ravan Jaafar Altaie, 26, organizes editathons and contributes to the development of knowledge in youth and her society while involving other young people- all voluntarily.
The first time I spoke to Ravan I could feel the energy and passion in her voice jump out of my phone. She gave statistics and bombarded me with information, so persuasive to the extent that she will make you believe that if you haven’t yet tried Wikipedia as a hobby than you haven’t lived your life. Interesting? Let’s meet her, is your chai ready?
Mandalawi: How did you get into Wikipedia
Raven: In 2008 I heard about an initiative done by two Egyptian guys titled: Add to Humanity.. Add to Wikipedia. That was the first time I ever know that anyone can edit Wikipedia. I gave it a shot and was really impressed about how easy you can leave a fingerprint in the world while you’re sitting on your chair at home.
Mandalawi: What is it all about it in Erbil? how many members, how does it work? what are the upcoming events?
Ravan: For almost 7 years I was just editing alone, heading to international conferences for volunteers in Wikipedia from all around the world, I went to Washington DC, Hong Kong, Jordan, Tunisia and Mexico city just to meet these incredible people and learn more about wikipedia and get more passionate about what it’s offering to the world. The CEO of Wikipedia asked me: “Do you have a stable internet connection in your city?” I said Yes! Then she replied: “How come no one is contributing in Wikipedia in your city but you? It’s a big city with educated people and stable internet?” This one I couldn’t answer that time! Then I thought maybe people are not contributing because they simply don’t know how.
I thought to myself that I can take the initiative back home and in a two-hour session pass what I know to others. After I came back I did just that. I arranged 3 workshops here in Erbil for almost 30 people from all different fields in life.
I arranged a Editathon between them and it was so successful, the sum of these workshops was 682 new articles on Wikipedia by the attendees of the workshop who previously they didn’t know anything about Wikipedia, there was more than 10717 edits in total.
Upcoming Events: I’ve started already to open an official user group, arranging with Wikimedia foundation in San Francisco for Wikipedians in Iraq, editing in Arabic and Kurdish Wikipedias
I will start the Wikipedia Education Program officially in Erbil, this aims to get the students in universities and schools involved in editing Wikipedia as a part of their assignments
Mandalawi: Why wikipedia? Why do you encourage youth to take part?
Ravan: Because nowadays there is a big gap. In fact, a huge gap between the developing world and the developed world. If you will think about the reason you will find out that It’s not about money, because obviously we as a part of the developing world have a lot of money, and it’s not about power because again either you will define power as military power or economic power we are still in good shape. The real gap is knowledge. And by knowledge I mean all types of knowledge, political, scientific, social, moral, and even fashion knowledge. Wikipedia will make knowledge free and available for everyone in their own language
“Today, there is a gap between the developing world and the developed world. It’s not about money, and it’s not about power. It’s about knowledge.”
If you are interested and would like to take part in this initiative- if you love reading, and you have a good grasp of a certain language, do not hesitate to contact Ravan here. Trust me, she will grab you and pull you into the Wikipedia world right away. So proud of her. Something little goes a very long way.
Just imagine, young Kurdish youth, getting together at a cafe or even a chai khana (tea house) with their laptops reading, correcting info and just gaining knowledge! If you ask me it is better than sitting doing Sheesha at B2B, don’t you think?
As for how I am blogging, here is the picture.
Until the next post,
lots of love from- My Nest in Kurdistan