My experience from Diversity Conference 2017!

Wikimedia Diversity Conference was organised by Wikimedia Sweden on 3rd November 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. The conference was hosted for 2 days ( 2 days and a half for the Social event) with over 80 participants from 40 countries, representing various languages and communities. It was the time to meet old friends, make new ones and learn from their activities and projects in the Wikimedia Movement.

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The conference was started on 3rd November 2017 for the Social event in the Royal Armory Museum of Royal Palace of Stockholm. Volunteers gathered in the lobby of Stockholm Sheraton hotel and came to the Museum, the 15 minutes walk also helped in knowing people. After reaching the Museum, we were provided with registration kit. While going through my ID card, I found a bunch of papers were there inside. And going through the papers, I found a Bingo sheet, some instructions, and a page to note down the discussion. After attending the last 2 Wikimanias, I was aware of playing a Wiki Bingo, with a lot of words related to the movement being there in the puzzle, you have to mark it when the speakers during the Opening ceremony say that word. But in Diversity conference the Wiki Bingo was quite different with the Bingo sheet having questions, Person who is from Africa contributes to Wikipedia every day, uses Linux Operating system and others. I found it really amazing and a nice icebreaker activity. Diversity Conference being a conference with a small number of participants such activities helps in knowing people, being open and initiating a conversation with strangers. Later, when you get a Bingo, you have to form a group and discuss challenges and achievements of your community. I was also surprised by seeing the QR codes in the museum, which was later shared by the curator of Royal Museum about how Wikimedia Sweden and the museum have collaborated for the Open Knowledge movement and gave some brief about their work.

The main event started on 4th November with the opening speech by the Executive Director of Wikimedia Foundation, Katherine Maher. She started her speech saying “We are a community that believes in every single information need to be shared” saying that she explained How can we move towards knowledge equity, which was followed by a question she asked, Have we changed the world? And the crowd shouted “Yes”. By that time I had got the idea that the smaller is the conference the better you interact with more people and know from their work.

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During the conference, we were asked to sit in a group in such a manner that people from the same country should not be repeated and I believe we had one of the most diverse groups with Ivan, Carmen, Caroline, Reem and me, representing different projects and different communities. There was a good bonding in the group, our group actively took part in many discussions and we made some very good posters (As Ivan was in our team 😀 ) but everything changed when Ulrika introduced the WikiCafe, this was the first time I was part of revolving cafe concept. Within the 2-3 hrs of the WikiCafe session, I got a chance to interact with almost everyone present in the conference, we discussed the topics given, challenges we are facing and what could the solution for it. It not only helped in interacting with people, it also helped to know how people react to situations and deal in their community.  Also, I believe Mentimeter was one of the best things in the conference, where you could give your comments and suggestion live during the presentation, also you can see what others have suggested.

From using Wikimedia projects to engage vulnerable and underrepresented people into our movement, which I never thought that by teaching how to edit Wikiquote can make patients happier and feel good about themselves to how to make events more inclusive, make process map, Wikimedia Diversity has taught me a lot of things. It has also helped me to understand that the diversity doesn’t come with a single representation, it comes with a lot of people with new ideas and understandings, also diversity is not only about representation, there’s a various way of achieving it through content, participation, and others.

In the end, we understood how a commitment to diversity also needs to manifest itself in the governance structures of our movement organizations. “We” are a group of diversity activists who work on these issues in a volunteer and/or staff capacity.

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