Cultivating Change: Reflecting on Train The Trainer

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Snehrashmi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

26 Indian Wikimedians from 15 different Indic languages and project communities gathered in Kochi, Kerala for Train-the-Trainer 2023, the eighth edition of this leadership development event, marking its first post-pandemic iteration. A2K leveraged its experience to design an effective program, incorporating best practices and innovative approaches, which will be detailed in this blog.

After a thorough review of the 83 applications received, 28 scholars were selected for the program, representing diverse backgrounds in culture, language, gender, and ideas. Eventually, 26 scholars from 15 language communities participated, with two initially selected participants withdrawing.

The program achieved great success with the invaluable support of the co-host community, the Wikimedians of Kerala User Group. This dynamic collaboration extended to various aspects of the event, with the community playing a pivotal role in logistics and offering fresh, innovative ideas to enhance the overall experience.

Tonynirappathu, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Program Highlights

Objective: TTT 2023 aims to empower individuals to drive momentum, tackle challenges, and lead vital initiatives. It focuses on raising awareness about community health and emphasizes sustainability for Wikimedia’s enduring success. The three-day program included presentations, workshops, education tours, showcases, and discussions; with each day beginning with a one-word answer “Question of the Day” and concluding with group activities, like digitizing book folios.

The initial interactions on the first day were characterized by a rapid establishment of comfort and camaraderie among participants. These early connections played a crucial role in shaping the entire TTT experience. Trust and collaboration formed the bedrock of the program, contributing to its smooth progression and overall success. The strong bonds among participants created a dynamic and engaging atmosphere throughout the TTT 2023 journey.

Program Innovations 

Here are some highlighted innovative ideas that emerged from the TTT program:

Wiki Buddies

To contribute to building connections, A2K conceived the idea of “Wiki Buddies”. On the first day, participants were introduced to the Wiki-Buddies initiative, and they were divided into approximately five groups, with around five participants in each group. These groups embarked on the journey together, starting on Day 0 and culminating on Day 3 with in-person interactions. The objective was to create a comfortable and friendly space for participants that fosters interactions and builds connections with one another.

Tonynirappathu, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

E-connect Sessions

A2K introduced “E-connect Sessions”, a novel concept extending beyond physical presence. These sessions familiarized participants with Wikimedia affiliate work and growth. Speakers engaged with TTT participants over two days, each session lasting 45 minutes, offering a personalized experience. These innovations enhanced collaboration and engagement in TTT.

Tonynirappathu, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Panel: How do we make Editing more Inclusive & Accessible

During previous TTTs, A2K did not organize any panel discussions. However, this time, we introduced a Panel Discussion moderated by Padmini Ray, Art+Feminism South Asia Lead. The panelists represented various language communities and they responded to questions with confidence and in an appropriate manner. The panel’s intention was to help participants with the platform to introduce their work to others, prepare for forthcoming events, and provide them with the necessary skills to engage in challenging discussions.

Snehrashmi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Best practices

A2K made use of the best practices that the team gathered from the last seven versions of TTT. Some of them are:

  • Co-hosting with a community: A2K first tried it in TTT 2019, partnering with VVIT WikiConnect Club. For TTT 2023, Wikimedians of Kerala User Group co-hosted, making the event seamless and nurturing leadership. The interest of TTT 2023 participants in hosting future TTTs is a testament to its success.
  • Gender Diversity: Participants of TTT 2023 were a very diverse set of community members with a diverse set of motivations and challenges. This resulted in differing expectations which were challenging to handle. A2K is committed to improving the gender diversity of participants in TTTs participants and trainers/speakers. Back in 2017-2020, we publicly committed to having “at least 25% of the participants at TTTs would comprise women Wikimedians.” and achieved it. This year we internally aspire to achieve over 30% women participation and got 37%. We hope our quest to attain more diversity and contribute to equity will continue in the future.
  • Participant Diversity: Taking a cue from the above policy, we committed to two more this time.
    • To have not more than two participants from each of the language communities, with an expectation of one more from the host community (Malayalam/Kerala). This is to ensure the linguistic diversity in the event.
    • To ensure all participants, excluding trainers/speakers, who have attended TTT more than once bring fresh perspectives and enhance the collaborative experience.

Next Steps

  • Empowering Communities: We are committed to supporting TTT participants in leading community-driven initiatives, fostering collaboration, and imparting the essence of TTT, not limited to TTT participants only.
  • Sustained Growth: Through mentorship, we will continue facilitating skill expansion and thereby contributing to the Wikimedia Movement’s sustainable development in Indic Projects.

This journey beyond TTT builds an empowered network of leaders, enriching communities and inspiring active engagement within the Wikimedia ecosystem.

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