Re: [Diversity] Participation in active IETF work (was: Interim step on meetings site feedback for sites currently under active consideration)

Spencer Dawkins at IETF <> Tue, 19 April 2016 13:14 UTC

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Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2016 08:14:23 -0500
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From: Spencer Dawkins at IETF <>
To: SM <>
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Cc: Hui Deng <>, Dhruv Dhody <>, Nalini Elkins <>, "" <>, Christian O'Flaherty <>, Alvaro Retana <>, Vinayak Hegde <>
Subject: Re: [Diversity] Participation in active IETF work (was: Interim step on meetings site feedback for sites currently under active consideration)
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I'd like to thank you folks for continuing to look at this.

On Tue, Apr 19, 2016 at 3:58 AM, SM <> wrote:

> Hi Nalini,
> At 12:50 18-04-2016, wrote:
>> I wonder if there has not been more participation in active IETF work
>> before from other regions because there was no structured way to start
>> participating and language insensitivity.  (BTW, there is a new member of
>> the Mentoring Team from Latin America, that I met in Buenos Aires who will
>> translate the Mentoring emails into Spanish.)
> Attendance figures were used as a substitute for Participation figures.
> The IETF Community did not show much interest in doing anything about
> that.  A few years ago, an IAOC Chair posted the following to justify the
> meeting policy:
> There wasn't any formal effort (as the one you are doing) to train people
> from other regions to start participating except for the meeting training
> sessions.  A person who is not used to discussing in English faces a higher
> learning curve in comparison with someone from Australia.

I joined Huawei in 2005, just as they began to ramp up participation in
IETF, and in Paris, I was talking with a Chinese co-worker who had done a
presentation in one of the RTG working groups, and asked, "so, was this the
first time you've done a presentation like this in English?"

It was, but it was also the first time he'd done "a presentation like this"
at all. That wasn't a thing, at his university, probably two decades ago
(I'm guessing). At least back then, teachers talked, and students listened.

He also said, in his meeting report, "understanding questions in English
after your presentation is the short stave in the water bucket" (that was
the show-stopper, at least for him).

I've developed a lot of respect for IETF participants who are working
outside their first language ... and in an unfamiliar culture.