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How to apply for Fellowships - Interview with Marsha

These days Vlada and Ginger have received a lot of emails of people asking how to apply for fellowships to go to IGF Sharm El Sheikh. As you know, there is much difficulty to ensure the right participation of people from developing countries to international conferences.

Because of that, I decided to help and interview some people who had received support in the past from different institutions. I hope that you can read these stories and get some inspiration and ideas of how to do it as well!

Today I made an interview with Marsha Guthrie, my colleague from Diplo IGCBP 2005 and a great friend.

Marsha in IGF Athens, 2006

Since the capacity building programme with Diplo, Marsha attended the following events:

• The Third WSIS Prepcom Meeting in September 2005, Geneva, Switzerland;
• Internet Governance: The Way Forward in February 2006, Malta and
• the First Internet Governance Forum in October 2006, Athens, Greece.

Because of this experience, and also tutoring and being in touch with people from all over the world, I invited Marsha to share some thoughts in a blog post for those of you interested in the policy side of Internet governance.

SEIITI: Marsha, can you share with us the story of how you got involved with Internet governance policy?

MARSHA: I responded to a call for applicants in early 2005 for this new programme in Internet Governance.

After I was accepted, I became more and more fascinated with IG and, upon successfully completing the course as one of the top students I was offered a fellowship to attend the Third PrepCom Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

It was an absolutely rewarding time as it exposed us fellows to the whole diplomatic process involved and a first hand view of the approaches of various governments and other stakeholders to Internet Governance.

I also had the opportunity to meet our Director, Dr. Jovan Kurbalija and the head of the IGF Secretariat, Mr. Markus Kummer along with other members of the Diplo team and IG stakeholders.

After successfully completing the Foundation Phase of the IGCBP in 2005 I applied for and was accepted to the Research Phase of the Programme, which is quite different from how it is now.

We had to create portals with relevant information on specific topics and prepare a research paper. My group consisted of persons some of you may already know (Jean Philémon Kissangou, Mwende Njiraini, and myself).

We worked hard and were rewarded with a fellowship to attend the Meeting in Malta February 2006. This meeting was also very informative as we were able to hear from others who had prepared papers and network with those who were seeking to help shape policy with regards to Internet Governance. The composition and organisation of the Internet Governance Forum was discussed among other issues. It was also the beginning of some great friendships for me.

The first Internet Governance Forum in Athens was simply an extraordinary experience as this was my first time at such a large, international conference. This was also my first time as a tutor in the IGCBP.

I was approached by Diplo and asked if I would be available to attend. Going to the IGF was a growing and learning experience in so many ways as I got to meet Vint Cerf, participate in so many different and interesting sessions, even one on diplomacy coordinated by Diplo and was interviewed by the Pew Internet Project Team on the Future of the Internet. I was also able to promote the work of Diplo by helping out at the display. I came away with a wealth of experience and it something I will never forget.

The Diplo team with Vint Cerf, 2006

SEIITI: Marsha, what are your recommendations for those who are willing to start on Internet governance policy?

MARSHA: First, always do your best as you never know who is observing your work and possibly making recommendations to others about your potential.

I would also advise those interested in obtaining a fellowship to continue to network with those you have met during the IGCBP, become involved in groups that are focused on Internet Governance issues, whether regional or international.

There is nothing wrong with preparing a proposal and "promoting" yourself to others. Just always ensure that your proposal is one that shows how the organisation can benefit from assisting you so that in the end the organisation benefits from your assistance and you benefit from your time working with the organisation by improving your skills. Who knows, you may end up working permanently with that particular organisation!

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Comment by Lillian Nalwoga on August 11, 2009 at 11:21am
Interesting tips Marsha!
Comment by Charity Gamboa-Embley on August 6, 2009 at 11:20pm
Keeping in touch with other Diplo colleagues is a great way to involve yourself in other IG initiatives. It could be in a collective process like working on a paper and then presenting that paper. Along those lines, travel fellowships are available.

Then there is a local involvement. I think when applying to fellowships it is not merely the perks of traveling that you will be after - it's much more. I've known a lot of people who work for show so they can get fellowships, even here locally, and I just realized that when you actually get to talk to those people, they do not know much about what they are talking about. It's very frustrating! Then there are those who do genuine advocacy work who get very little opportunities. So basically, a genuine desire to expand that knowledge you have and then have an action plan to get that knowledge going is a great way to show your determination. So be assertive, not aggressive. Just like the old cliche: "no guts, no glory!"

One more thing, there is a sense of commitment that anyone should sincerely show and that is through the local work/involvement you have. Getting involved in IG-related work is simply a genuine desire to work and a great way is to hook up with your local organizations and work on similar projects. Just don't think about fellowships. Just commit yourself to work because sometimes fellowship offers come when you least expect it.

As for getting yourself involved in more IG work, you can talk with some colleagues in the same region and start rejuvenating or organizing your local chapter/organizations like ISOC chapters. ISOC will surely assist you in organizing a local chapter.

Oh one more thing, some fellowship offers are reimbursed especially the airfare ticket. So somehow this will also entail some fund preparation just in case. But you get your money back somehow.

I will be so glad to share any fellowship information I have with you guys! :)
Comment by Marsha Guthrie on August 1, 2009 at 9:58pm
Hi Aminou,

There are many organisations out there at both national and international levels involved in Internet Governance. Many may even have a relationship with Diplo or know of the organisation. I should mention that I was actually offered a fellowship by the International Development Research Centre but I was unable to accept that offer. Whenever I hear of any opportunities I share them with Diplo. This is why we have this forum so that alumni can share with each other. I think this is an excellent initiative and very informative as there are so many interesting notices that I receive from Diplo about scholarships, courses, etc.
Comment by AMINOU NDALA on July 31, 2009 at 8:46pm
Seiiti,

Greetings. Many of after the Internet Governance Course have become addicted to it and will like to be part of the of the internet governance world or be part of any organization that work with internet governance. What advice and proposal do you have for us.

Chao
Comment by AMINOU NDALA on July 31, 2009 at 8:41pm
Good suggestion Martha. The three events you cited above were fellowships received from Diplo. What about external sources. There might be donors and organization who are willing and ready to offer fellowships to deserving students. If there exists any may be you link the students up to.
Comment by Pascal G. Bekono on July 31, 2009 at 5:07pm
Thanks Marsha for this information!
Comment by Seiiti on July 30, 2009 at 12:07pm
If you also have received a fellowship in the past and can share your story, please either go ahead and create your own blog post telling
- how it was,
- when,
- how it was good for your career and understanding,
- how you helped the supporting institution and what activities you did

... or just drop me a message and I will follow up with you, facilitating the text in the format of an interview just like what we did with Marsha.

Thanks a lot!

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