NDEC WERT’s yearly recruitment: 150+ high schoolers join mini Wikimedia workshop

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The social media poster for the session.

On July 6, 2023, the English Club of Notre Dame College in Dhaka, Bangladesh, held a mini workshop centered around Wikimedia and open knowledge. This event was strategically arranged as a component of the recruitment process for their dedicated Wikimedia team. 150 – 200 students from grade 11, all hailing from the same educational institution, actively participated in the workshop. The Notre Dame English Club diligently facilitated the program, extending essential backing in terms of organizational and financial resources. Images from the mini-workshop can be found on Wikimedia Commons.

The crowd!

About the organizer

The Notre Dame English Club (NDEC), an extracurricular organization at Notre Dame College in Dhaka, made a deliberate decision to cultivate its ability to contribute to open knowledge and Wikimedia. This decision was driven by the recognition of shared values between the open knowledge and Wikimedia movement and the organizational values of NDEC itself. Consequently, the NDEC Wikipedia Editorial and Research Team (NDEC WERT) was established, serving as a platform to spearhead various projects over the past three years. These endeavors aimed to enhance NDEC’s capabilities while simultaneously enriching open-source content. WERT assumes the responsibility of overseeing NDEC’s operations related to open knowledge and preparing its members to navigate the expansive realm of open knowledge and the wikimediaverse.

NDEC WERT, being a specialized team dedicated to open knowledge and Wikimedia, operates within the framework of NDEC. It shares the same level of independence as the other eight independent NDEC departments; however, it distinguishes itself by directly reporting to the honorable moderator of the organization. This unique reporting structure grants NDEC WERT an additional degree of autonomy, enabling the team to make decisions that align with its specific goals and objectives in the most optimal manner.

Notre Dame College, Dhaka, witnesses the enrollment of more than three thousand fresh students each year. In tandem with the college’s admission cycle, the recruitment process of the Notre Dame English Club (NDEC) promptly commences, aiming to identify prospective members from each incoming batch. At present, NDEC has amassed a substantial membership base of over 1400 individuals. Notably, the specialized NDEC WERT undertakes a distinct approach in selecting new members, drawing from the existing pool of NDEC members. These interested individuals are then equipped with comprehensive training, tailored to the unique requirements of open knowledge and Wikimedia pursuits.

The primary objective of NDEC WERT revolves around nurturing competent professionals in the field of open knowledge. These individuals are trained to assume leadership roles and effectively organize initiatives related to open knowledge. They are also supposed to advocate for the cause of open knowledge on a global scale, tirelessly working to improve and enhance the wikimedia movement for the benefit of all stakeholders. Onwiki content creation represents just one among the hundreds of areas of focus for the team.

NDEC WERT was featured in a lightning talk during this year’s EduWiki conference, where its accomplishments and endeavors were showcased. For those interested, the corresponding slide deck can be accessed on Wikimedia Commons via this link.

From the perspective of an 11th grader, the pathway to join NDEC WERT unfolds as follows:

1. Admission to Notre Dame College (NDC)

2. Becoming a member of the Notre Dame English Club (NDEC)

3. Participation in a rigorous Bootcamp, designed to develop essential skills and knowledge regarding Wikimedia

4. Going through Professionalism Enhancement Training (PET) 

5. Finally, achieving the prestigious status of a proud NDEC WERT member!

This sequential progression highlights the journey an individual undertakes, starting from admission to NDC and ultimately obtaining membership in NDEC WERT.

The Legacy

In 2020, NDEC organized an event called “Notre Dame Workshop and Editathon 2020” as their initial introduction to the world of wikimedia. Members who took part in this event later formed the NDEC WERT team. In 2022, as part of their annual recruitment process, NDEC conducted the “NDEC Wikimedia Bootcamp 2022.” During this bootcamp, freshmen at NDEC who expressed an interest in wikimedia had their first exposure to the extensive wikimediaverse. Upon completing the bootcamp, they gained the foundational knowledge required to independently explore wikimedia and join NDEC WERT.

Each year, these new members undergo internal training known as “Professionalism Enhancement Training (PET).” This training focuses on developing essential skills for organizing and demonstrating leadership within the wikimedia movement. Last year, NDEC held 15 PET sessions, spanning over 35 hours. Graduates from the previous year’s bootcamp and PET programs are currently leading the recruitment process for this year.

Presently, NDEC is actively working on building a robust alumni network specifically for their specialized wikimedia team. The aim is to establish a supportive community where former and current NDEC WERT members can collaborate and maintain connections and bring new skills and perspectives.

What’s happening this year

Building upon the success of previous years’ outreach training initiatives, this year’s comprehensive training program will continue to serve as the gateway for students at Notre Dame College to engage with wikimedia. It will be integrated into the annual recruitment process of NDEC WERT, offering students the opportunity to immerse themselves in wikimedia activities and initiatives.

NDEC is currently experimenting with a new aspect of the Wikimedia movement, and as we delve into this endeavor, we are focused on continuous learning and improving our systems. Given that our work involves individuals who are legally underage (aged 16-18), it is paramount for us to ensure a safe environment for these young participants. Additionally, we have recognized the significance of ensuring the safety of our leadership team, which has become a major concern in recent times.

The instructor talking to the participants.

Based on the insights gained from previous experiences, the NDEC leadership has placed significant emphasis on addressing the safety issues for our freshmen participants. Unlike the previous year, specific details related to the bootcamp, such as session dates and times, program design, the exact number of participants (we are instead using a range that holds the actual number), as well as the names and usernames of the newcomers, are not publicly shared. This approach aims to create a secure environment for everyone involved.

The mini workshop held on July 6, 2023 marked the commencement of the bootcamp, which is set to continue for at least a month. This period will provide ample opportunity for participants to engage in the program while ensuring the implementation of necessary safety measures.

NDEC is eagerly anticipating witnessing the growth and contributions of these emerging wikimedians as they explore and engage in the vast wikimediaverse. The organization is excited about the potential impact and valuable contributions that these individuals will make within the wikimedia community. NDEC looks forward to supporting and nurturing these new wikimedians as they soar and make their mark in the wikimediaverse.

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