Born and raised in Pakistan's industrial Punjab, Annie Zaman is based in Yangon, Myanmar. Annie is an independent journalist, researcher and academician based out of Yangon, Myanmar. She has contributed to BBC Urdu, DeutscheWelle Women and Himal South Asia. Before moving to Myanmar, Annie handled the Asia programme of the Rory Peck Trust in the United Kingdom. She has lived across two continents and four countries, gaining multiple skills and a network of collaborators during a career spanning 15 years. Annie joined Global Voices in August 2011, and served as a Volunteers’ Representative on the GV board from 2017-2020.
All candidates in the 2020 board elections have been asked to answer the set of questions listed below. Feel free to ask Annie additional questions in the comments area below this post!
What appeals to you most about the prospect of serving on the GV board?
Global Voices is a family. It is a vibrant community of talented writers/activists and linguists from different parts of the world, united by a commonly shared belief in universal values of human rights, in particular freedom of speech and digital rights.
A majority of our brilliant work is courtesy of the long hours and research put forth by our volunteers — providing a voice to many marginalized voiceless communities. We look where others don't. We highlight what many mainstream news publications ignore. Impact and community-driven, we are GV. A space for every important story — news, features, and opinions.
What talents, skills, connections, and expertise can you offer Global Voices in your role as board representative?
I am a journalist by education and profession and now my work mostly comprises safety and security of journalists and human rights defenders in Asia. I help journalists in distress to resettle and start a new life, build a new home away from their homeland which is neither easy for them nor for me. Over the years I have learned that I am good with people, they open up to me, they trust me with their lives. Dealing with others comes easily to me. I have worked across two continents, four countries and reported an equal number of languages. I am a woman of color who has learned to rise above mediocrity and aim for excellence.
As you look ahead to the next three years, what, in your opinion, should be GV’s overarching priorities as an organization?
At Global Voices we have digital/virtual newsrooms since its inception. I won’t be wrong if I say GV is the pioneer and the trend-setter when it comes to digital newsrooms. As our world is changing and many newsrooms are struggling during the Covid-19 outbreak to move from traditional newsrooms to virtual newsrooms, we at GV can monetize and start offering our digital expertise to newsrooms around the world. Just the other day a journalist friend who works for a public service broadcast asked me to give them a tutorial about Google-Drive and Google Trends.
Allowing more opportunity for interaction and working with the expertise of every community member.
Anxiety is another important aspect we as an organization should make a priority. With the covid19 outbreak all of us are going through a lot and many of us have lost loved ones. We should have virtual counselling sessions to provide support to our volunteers and staff.
What aspect of GV’s work interests you the most?
GV is an alternative newsroom that is basically dependent on the volunteer work of its community members from around the world. I have been associated with GV from the last 1 decade and every time I read a report written by a new volunteer, my faith in humanity is stronger. The beauty of GV is that it’s a community without any age, border or visa limitations. When we meet or talk, we are all treated equally and that’s what I like the most.
What would you like to get out of this board service experience, both professionally and personally?
I was nominated and elected in the last elections as a GV community representative and I feel it is a big responsibility to be a bridge between the community and the contractors/staffs plus the core team members. As GV is growing as an organisation, community rep at times works as an HR department. We get to hear volunteers’ issues with the reports from editing to publishing and reach out to editors and the board to find solutions. Since I am a volunteer, I of course have represented the community’s point of view and at the same time understood where the core team is coming from.
Personally, it gave me an opportunity to be close to some amazing volunteers. Professionally, it brings more strength to my character and work.
How will you fit board service into your personal and other professional work commitments?
This role is challenging and it’s a commitment that requires time and energy. I live in Yangon, Myanmar where the sun rises way earlier than the rest of the world. I am a full-time mom and struggle to balance between private and official (as you do) so I have ended up bringing it all together. I am that parent who brings its child to evening parties and official dinners. I don’t get shamed easily!!!
I travel with my daughter, Mimi on work trips. Be it a volunteer one or the one that pays our bills. Many of you know my daughter because she has attended Cebu, Colombo and Taiwan summits.
In my last tenure as a board rep I took board and community council calls while putting Mimi to bed. Some of you saw her dancing during our serious calls and she cheered you up.
I write my stories from my bed when others are sleeping. I schedule meetings while mixing batter for pancakes. I sleep 4-6 hours but then that’s a choice I happily made and I ain’t turning away.
What methods would you use to engage and listen to the community in order to represent them effectively at board level?
My previous tenure in the same role has taught me key lessons — to be a patient listener and negotiator. When working as a team, there's no room for judgments and we all believe in GV's mission. To be an effective listener, I have decided to hold monthly chats with volunteers to understand their concerns. Plus, since I am a trained yoga professional, I would love to hold Yoga sessions with meetings for volunteers. Under current global pandemic situations, we need to scale up our engagement within GV and outside but in a safe and positive way.