is a Brazilian citizen, born and raised in the city of Recife, a bright and all-year-sunny city in the Northeast of the country. In 2005 she graduated in law at the Federal University of Pernambuco. The law Faculty is an environment of political effervescence. Politics is dynamic and vibrant; therefore she decided to enroll in a student party, being elected twice to represent the students locally and nationally.
After graduation, Marília decided to pursuit an academic career and become a researcher. With that in mind, she moved to the extreme South of Brazil in 2006, to take a Masters Program in Latin American Integration at the Federal University of Santa Maria. Marília was finishing her course credits and had already began to write her Masters dissertation when she received an interesting e-mail. Little did she know that it would be a turning point on her academic path.
>> Which email was that, Marília?
The mail announced the deadline to apply to Diplo’s Internet Governance Capacity Building Program (IGCBP).
I’ve always associated the Internet mainly with its technical side and I supposed that the course would be focused on that. It didn’t scare me away, though: I have always had a very broad range of interests (my favorite subject at school was physics) and I consider myself a curious person. Nevertheless, I didn’t have much hope that I would be accepted because I lacked previous technical knowledge. I decided to take a chance and applied anyway.
>> Were your suspicions about the need for technical knowledge accurate?
To my surprise, the answer was positive and the course was much broader than I expected, discussing not only the technical, but the legal, economical and social issues that are essential to a full understanding of Internet Governance.
I felt myself useful to my colleagues: my legal and also my personal background helped them as much as they helped me with their expertise. I fell academically in love with IG and I decided to change the topic of my Masters dissertation. Because of that, I faced a lot of difficulties, such as the need to rewrite part of the work and the scarcity of sources of research, but I wanted to contribute to the awareness and knowledge building in my country about this relevant subject.
My research focused on how ICTs can foster citizens’ participation on policy-making, especially in Integration processes, such as European Union and Mercosur.
>> What can you tell about the outcomes of this choice?
Thanks to Diplo’s course and community support and to the research I developed, I have been invited as a speaker on several important academic events, such as the International Law Association annual conference and the Symposium Governance and the Law at McGill University.
I have also participated as a Diplo fellow on the 2007 Internet Governance Forum, which gave me an inside perspective of the difficult and important process of building consensus in IG, as well as provided me with a view of emerging issues. I am also involved with other Diplo colleagues in several projects, such as the remote participation initiative, which aims to foster long distance participation on the IGF, through the creation of local hubs. In the near future, I plan to carry on my research and pursuit a doctorate degree in the field of Law and Technology.
>> What would you like to highlight from your experience with Diplo?
Another great surprise I had was an invitation to be a tutor at the 2008 IGCBP. I worked with the bilingual English/Portuguese group. Personally, the experience as a tutor was very important. I first got in touch with the course as a participant and it was very interesting to be on the other side of the story, as one of the promoters. I could see how every text, every activity, every communication to the students is carefully planned and fits a wider pedagogical design. It increased my admiration towards the course and its creators and made me want to stay in touch and help this initiative to flourish and grow even more in the future.
>> Please tell us more about your impression on the Internet Governance Capacity Building Programme (IGCBP)
The IGCBP 2008 was an amazing and enriching experience, both academically and personally. We had a very heterogeneous group in terms of background: there were IT experts, lawyers, economists, publicity experts, NGO workers, public servants and academics.
The group early developed a deep understanding of what collaborative learning was about. They all shared their knowledge and personal experiences about the topics they were more familiar with and asked the help of their colleagues when they had doubts. I served as a motivator and facilitator, raising some questions, but they did all the work. They exchanged not only comments, but they asked me to publish on the class high quality additional material: the texts they have written about the subject and the results of their previous researches. We all learned from one another.
I had the chance to meet some of the participants after the course and we are developing several projects together, so we built long-lasting partnerships.
>> How was working with Diplo like?
There are some characteristics that are present in every activity developed by Diplo. First and foremost, there’s a strong commitment to achieve its goals successfully and the professionalism of the people involved. The seriousness with which the work is developed doesn’t hinder the pleasant interaction and the positive energy exchanged on the personal relationships.
Diplo’s work is based on collaboration among the staff and among the participants of the course. This is the basis of Diplo’s online platform and it’s the main reason why Diplo offers such a successful program of long distance learning. You can feel that your tutor and colleagues are even closer than in a regular class, due to the constant interaction and exchange. The possibility to work on flexible hours was essential for me to be able to develop other activities in parallel with the IGCBP.