By Pamela Ofori-Boateng
Ever seen participants bursting with so much excitement learning about the Open Movement for the first time? Ever witnessed young people so obsessed with Wikipedia after finding out they can actually contribute? Ever seen energetic participants changing the world immediately after training? Now that pretty much sums up what transpired at the just-ended Summer Open School 2018 (#SOS18) organized by Open Foundation West Africa (OFWA) at Lancaster University in Accra, Ghana. The two-day packed event brought together university students and tech enthusiasts from diverse backgrounds to learn about open resources such as Wikipedia, Creative Commons, Open Street Maps, Mozilla and how they can actively participate in these projects.
On the sidelines, participants were introduced to topics such as Climate Change, UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Photography, the Green Economy among others. More importantly, participants were introduced to the advocacy and volunteering opportunities available within the Open Movement. They were also made to understand that these are not paid roles, however, the fact that being involved opens up an overflowing wealth of opportunities which in most cases money cannot buy was emphasized.
This realization didn’t demotivate the participants but rather charged them to go into the world and make a change. The first edition of SOS was a successful one, however, this edition tends to carry the best so far tag. SOS 2018 turned out to be the most diverse and engaging session for students from various universities as participants had no prior knowledge of the topics covered. Programmes Manager at OFWA, Joy Agyepong said in an interview. Having gatherings like this is very important because it helps bring committed people who can significantly contribute to the open movement under one roof, she added.
She was, however, surprised at the level of enthusiasm portrayed by participants as some created their first Wikipedia article even before the session ended.
We had a wonderful learning experience at SOS18. I understood how Wikipedia works and how students and researchers can use it for their benefit. I can boldly say I have a Wikipedia account so I can edit and publish articles online, Irene Adinorkie Okutu, a graduate of the University of Health and Allied Sciences said.
For Bismark Amefianu, SOS18 was an eye-opener. The event opened my eyes to the opportunities available on Wikipedia; the opportunity to add value to myself while projecting Africa to the world.
Summer Open School (SOS) is the flagship programme of Open Foundation West Africa organized annually. The just ended edition organized from 15th to 16th September 2018 received almost 90 applications from all over the country and beyond. Unfortunately, only 40 people could be selected. There are future plans to engage more applicants in the years ahead.