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USA: Internet Freedom Festival Community

I never dreamed of New York City. How could the world's capital cross the imagination of a small town migrant girl who quit her job to chase elusive dreams of a fairer world. Even two months back, I did not imagine I would be crossing the Atlantic ocean to the Big Apple - the city that never sleeps. Well, I love sleep. A lot.

It was a good change to be a morning person for once because of time zone shift - a la jet lag. And just one week after my retreat in Kenya.

The Internet has changed a lot about our world, and a lot about my world. It has been a foundation for my non profit works which led me to be selected as an Internet Freedom Festival (IFF) Community Development Fellow focused on the Next Net theme. Next Net is a lens into the future of the internet; the opportunities, risks, and challenges. I am very excited to be a Community Development Fellow curating the 5th year anniversary of the Internet Freedom Festival.

New York City is a melting pot of culture, and while I was there for tasks concerning Internet Freedoms, it didn't stop me from dining on food that takes me back to my Thailand University days - Padthai in a vegan restaurant (my first time eating vegan food and 'soy/tofu' buffalo wings.)

Then it was a Turkish Buffet, Thai padzee-ew and Mexican Fajitas. Not to mention the tacos, enchilada's and guacamole. Of course there was space for some delicious Louisiana Fried chicken, and I did take time to cook some good ol' American ground beef with tasty beer. Ah. I became a foodie.

My journey in Internet Governance begun as a 2017 Youth@IGF fellow at the United Nations Office of Geneva - I got this opportunity through my work with online volunteers via UN Online Volunteers platform with SAFIGI Outreach Foundation (the non profit I started when I was 17 years old.

The IGF (Internet Governance Forum) in Switzerland challenged me to create Digital Grassroots, and then I went on to become a Mozilla Open Leader by participating in Mozilla Open Leadership training. I returned to the program as an expert and was invited in MOL6 as an expert to speak about 'Building Persona's and Pathways' in community development by working open.

It's been an exciting year of growth, not even ONE YEAR since I attended the IGF.

New York City served as the cherry to the pie - admittedly I was on the verge of burnout and had even taken a leave of absence in the month of December to re-calibrate for the following year. And while I was on official duty in NYC / New Jersey, the change of atmosphere did a lot to improve my perspectives on why I do what I do AND give me the fuel to continue.

And who wouldn't feel revived in the amazing fully-furbished apartment I had the pleasure of resting in. Perfect streak of sunlight and such a soft soft soft bed. And TEN pillows!

Fake yoga anyone? Do it for the gram.

And waking up to this view for a week is the most shocking thing to have happened in my life. Best view E V E R!

I never dreamed of New York. It was outside the scope of my imagination. After a very difficult year, giving myself fully to charity and earning little to nothing, dedicating myself to bring digital literacy to local communities across the globe gave me quite a pretty unexpected perk. All the sacrifice was worth it.

I have to say, I could not have done it by my own wit and strength because it has been utterly useless in the past. It's nothing short of a Christmas miracle. Thank you Jesus.

The grueling work continues and perhaps with this reflection, I will have the strength to continue just a little bit further than I would have initially gone. The magic of New York and calm of New Jersey. And good food.

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