As an inexperienced YIGF organizer and baby in Internet governance, it is easy to imagine how daunting it was to speak up, especially in more technical sessions such as those about IDN. At first, our new YIGF participants were also completely silent in the face of the APrIGF sessions. There was a fear rooted in the deficiency of knowledge, the age gap, the language barrier and so on. However, the magic began after the YIGF sessions and youth initiated APriGF sessions.
In YIGF sessions, we gave participants an open and free space to express their opinions and build up their capacity. We formed a bridge for participants to join APrIGF by simulating the sessions. Through collaboration sessions with Youth4IG and remarks from Rajnesh Singh, participants and I were made aware of the value of youth and the responsibility of youth—we are to build up our better Internet in the future. Youth are inexperienced but not outsiders. Our voices matters. Our values will become mainstream in the future.
The feeling of true inclusion then made everything different. I spoke in a Townhall session expressing my concerns about regulating emerging technology. YIGF participants actively joined in the youth initiated sessions sharing how they participate in Internet governance; when they were in a room of youth, the age barrier disappeared. And with each opportunity to speak out, we gradually became more confident in expressing our opinions. It was much easier to be more engaged in different sessions afterward.
Without speaking up and actively joining in the workshops, what we were doing was no different than listening to a speech. I could not direct the discussion to areas I was interested in and could not reflect the fruitful ideas from speakers. With speaking more, I grew and gained more insights. With engaging more, I saw a bigger world in Internet governance and realized this is only the start of the journey.
As a youth, we need to feel valued to truly reach inclusion in Internet governance. We need to have more confidence before we start contributing to the sessions. We need to have more knowledge for better engagement in workshops. By more actively engaging in the sessions, we will play a more significant role in Internet governance and make a difference.
About the Writer
Steven Chen, NetMission Ambassador of Class 2018/2019, Taiwan
Year 1, Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Co-organizer of HKyIGF 2019
Co-organizer of Asia Pacific YIGF 2019 Vladivostok
Photo credits: Photography team of cctld.ru and Volunteers from FEFU