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My experience at SEARCH Summit 2013 with Google

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With the aim of bringing all the South East Asian Google Communities together, South East Asia Outreach Summit (SEARCH Summit) with Google was held in Hyatt regency Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The conference spanned from 19th to 22nd of June. The South East Asian Google Communities: Google Business Groups (GBGs), Google Developer Groups (GDGs), the Map Makers and the Google Student Ambassadors (GSAs) participated the conference to understand and learn from each other.

More than 200 participants from different South East Asian countries presented at the conference. For the Google Student Ambassador conference, 138 Google Student Ambassadors from countries around the region, including first time participants from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Vietnam attended the SEARCH Summit. Other countries to attend included Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

934923_10152978376485445_2072740073_n1017237_10151577402987669_914920195_nFrom Sri Lanka, there were fourteen participants. Ten Google Student Ambassadors: Hasini Abeywickrama (University of Moratuwa), Chaamini Mangaleswaran (University of Moratuwa), Rashmika Nawaratne(University of Moratuwa), Shafraz Rahim (National School of Business Management), Pasindu De Silva (National School of Business Management), Laksheta Naresh Moorjani (Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology), Irma Shennon (Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology), Hasangi Kollure (University of Colombo School of Computing), Anaz Ashraff (American Education Centre) and Shamika Dharmasiri (University Of Peradeniya), two Map Makers: Dihan Perera and Tharaka Devinda, Keshan Sanjaya Sodimana from Google Developer Group and Indulekha Nanayakkara from Google Business Group participated the SEARCH summit 2013.

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MTG_Jogja_220130622_144041The Summit for GSAs kicked off with an ice breaking session to connect students of different countries together. These students introduced themselves and then interacted with each other with a fun activity. The conference was coordinated by Aileen Apolo (Outreach Program Manager – SEA), NeeKhern and Hadi.

Further on the first day, sessions on Google culture and the role of being a Google Student Ambassador were presented. The session on Google Culture was fascinating to listen. We were interested in the way Google employees spend their working hours, how they are treated and how they are allowed to use 20% of work time to work on their own innovative ideas.

IMG_8919On the second day, GSAs were educated on how to use Google Apps for Education. GSAs were given in-depth knowledge on using Google Drive to collaborate among peers, collecting information using Google Forms, using YouTube for educational purposes and how Google Apps could help students in their everyday lives.

During the afternoon of the second day, a group photo of all the participants was taken in their national costumes.

Then the success stories of former GSAs, members of GDG, GBG communities and Map Makers on their contribution for the past year were presented. The stories inspired us and showed us how this experience could be used to bring the best for our country. Furthermore, we learnt what were the failures encountered and how to overcome them.

On the third day, there were a number of sessions on technical aspects of how Google works. Google Search and MapsAPI were discussed in-depth. In the evening, a panel discussion was held with the participation of Googlers from Mountain View head office.

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The cultural exchange program was held during the dinner on the second day. Participants from all countries performed with their cultural shows and made a very entertaining night. From Sri Lanka, Shafraz Rahim presented a speech on Sri Lankan culture and the entire GSA team did a performance on Sri Lankans’ common behavior like how we talk and dance.

On the final day, numerous programs were held to develop the communication and presentation skills of the GSAs. One of the exercises saw GSAs form groups to come up with creative ideas to show how Google Apps could facilitate the progress in the education sector.

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Finally, the SEARCH Summit 2013 with Google was concluded with the graduation ceremony.

The knowledge we acquired is important to us Sri Lankans, because we are still in the process of incorporating technology into our university culture. Thus with the knowledge we gained, we will be able to contribute in full capacity to upgrade the learning culture in our universities.

934938_10151694836589452_1593165737_nThe SEARCH Summit 2013 with Google was an epic event. The knowledge and cultural exposure we received was once in a lifetime experience. I would like to thank everybody who took the time and effort to organize this wonderful event. Special gratitude goes to Mr. Rohan Jayaweera, Country Consultant at Google for supporting us from the beginning to participate this event.

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