Ever since I got back from South Africa’s 18 days long short trip, I have been traveling within India, trying to prepare for our annual Domain Name show; DomainX 2017 Conference and finally got a chance to pen ICANN59 Alumni Fellows Program experience.

ICANN59 Policy Forum, Johannesburg

ICANN59 was a Policy Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa from 26th to 29th June 2017.

As an alumni fellow from India, I am delighted to share my learnings and experience of ICANN59 along with travel trips around the country prior to participating in the policy forum. I had arrived around 12 days early in South Africa and got the opportunity to explore some of the best cities in the country like Johannesburg, Durban, and Capetown.

We shall discuss traveling experience some other time and talk about ICANN59 Policy Forum as of now. I had the opportunity to consolidate my learnings from previous experience of ICANN57 Fellows Program Experience while expanding my horizons about the working of The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). It was the experience of a lifetime with quite a bit of fun exploring beautiful South Africa.

The ICANN59 alumni fellows program experience article contains five main segments:

  • Introduction to ICANN
  • Introduction to ICANN Fellows Program
  • Alumni Fellows Daily Activities During ICANN59
  • ICANN59 in Numbers
  • ICANN59 Learnings

I was awarded ICANN59 alumni fellowship by the Development and Public Responsibility Dept. within ICANN to attend and represent India at Johannesburg, South Africa from 26-29 June 2017. As a member of ICANN’s Alumni Fellowship Program, ICANN provides (almost full) financial support for you to prepare and attend the 59th ICANN policy forum meeting.

I have mentioned “The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ and “ICANN” quite a few times already and I am sure, half of you wouldn’t even know about the organization and its mission. So without going around in circles, let me tell you in detail about the wonderful experience starting with an introduction to the ICANN and its Fellowship program.

Introduction to ICANN

For those who are not aware of ICANN and what it does, here is a short excerpt from Wikipedia:

ICANN LogoThe Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a nonprofit organization that is responsible for coordinating the maintenance and procedures of several databases related to the namespaces (domain names) of the Internet, ensuring the network’s stable and secure operation.

ICANN was founded on September 18, 1998 by Jon Postel; about 18 years ago and incorporated on September 30, 1998 in the U.S. state of California under Esther Dyson as founding chairwoman. ICANN operates and lives by the slogan, “One World. One Internet.” The current key positions are held by Göran Marby (CEO and President, ICANN) and Steve Crocker (Chairman of the ICANN Board). It is headquartered in the Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles.

ICANN Community Multistakeholder Model

ICANN’s primary principles of operation have been described as helping preserve the operational stability of the Internet; to promote competition; to achieve broad representation of the global Internet community; and to develop policies appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes.

Introduction to ICANN Fellows Program

The ICANN Fellows program is how ICANN’s Development and Public Responsibility Department supports and encourages new people from the community to participate and engage in the work of the corporation.

ICANN Fellows Program

This program intends to create a broader and more diverse base of knowledgeable participants in order to continue building upon its mission to build capacity within the ICANN Multistakeholder Model. High priority under this program is given to candidates currently living in underserved and underrepresented communities around the world, those who represent the diversity of gender, sector, region, experience, and expertise, and/or have established financial need. Participation in the program at an ICANN Meeting is a “fast track” experience of engagement into that community model, with presentations designed to facilitate understanding of the many pieces and parts of ICANN while providing opportunities to network and promoting interaction with ICANN Community and Staff.

Each candidate selected into the program through the online application and assessment process is provided a grant of support that covers the cost of economy class airfare, hotel, and a stipend. Fellowship recipients are expected to engage prior to, during and after the ICANN meeting with the ICANN Fellowship office, Program Alumni, Newcomer Coaches and their selected peers, as well as begin to actively contribute to ICANN processes upon completion of the Program.

Read in detail about ICANN Fellows Program here.

Alumni Fellows Daily Activities During ICANN59

I arrived at the Garden Court Hotel, Sandton in Johannesburg on Saturday, 24th of June in the afternoon and immediately started networking with other fellows hanging out in the hotel lobby. Had an early dinner with few and called it night to have a fresh start next morning.

On Sunday, 25th of June, all alumni fellows, newcomers and regional fellows got together for Newcomers Day at Michelangelo Hotel which was right next to the Garden Court Hotel where every fellow was staying for ICANN59.

Newcomers Day at ICANN59

Newcomers day started with introductions and continued with a welcome note from some of the most important executives and board members of ICANN.

Sunday, June 25th, the evening was planned for Fellowship Program gathering at Pappas restaurant at Nelson Mandela Square to have some karaoke fun with other alumni fellows.

Fellows Coordinator; Siranush Vardanyan

Manmeet Pal Singh with Fellows Coordinator; Siranush Vardanyan

Regular Fellowship Program was lead by Siranush Vardanyan which started with daily sessions on Monday (26th June), Tuesday (27th June) and Wednesday (28th June) from 12:00 Noon – 13:30 PM at Bill Gallagher Room.

The Fellowship Program sessions brought leaders from every supporting organization of the ICANN into the Bill Gallagher Room so that fellows and newcomers could directly engage with them and ask questions.

I made it a point to participate in almost every GNSO session during ICANN59, especially GNSO’s (Generic Name Supporting Organisation) New gTLD (New Generic Top Level Domains) subsequent procedures working group as I am part of it.

ICANN59 in Numbers

  • There were over 169 public sessions at ICANN59.
  • It was 11th ICANN meeting in Africa region.
  • 2 Multistakeholder award winners
  • Over 2020 participants registered for the event and 1336 attended ICANN59.
  • There were over 386 tweets on Twitter about ICANN59 using the #ICANN59.
  • 303 photos taken during ICANN59 were posted on Flickr which were viewed about 39,000+ times.
  • There were about 410 newcomers (first-time participants) this time around at ICANN59.
  • Over 569 unique visitors logged in to ICANN59 mobile app.
  • There were 53 Alumni Fellows, 13 NextGen Members and 15 Regional Newcomer Fellows who participated at ICANN59.

ICANN59 in Numbers

ICANN59 Learnings

ICANN59 being a Policy Forum, we all were selected based on our interest to further engage and involve within the ICANN community, which in itself is a priority for the Fellowship Program.

ICANN59 Fellows

Due to my interest in the Domain Names, I was lucky enough to have an on-site mentor in the form of Dennis Chang, who is Program Director for Global Domain Division (GDD) Services and Engagement. I met Dennis quite a few times during ICANN59 and discussed my future course of action keeping my interest of domain names in mind. I am still learning its, bits and pieces being a silent working group member of GNSO’s (Generic Name Supporting Organisation) New gTLD (New Generic Top Level Domains) subsequent procedures working group.


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