My SoTM 2019 Journey: It’s all about taking risks

Posted by feyeandal on 4 October 2019 in English (English)

Lately, I’ve been sitting with emptiness, constantly battling with my depression and anxiety, yet fighting to exist in my everyday life. I feel like my pursuit for finding meaning and purpose in life that transcends change never ends. And as I live my life, I tend to look for something positive hoping to fill that void. Well, I guess this is what #existentialcrisis does to me.

Luckily, I got a partial support to attend SoTM and HOT Summit in Heidelberg, Germany. Of course, I do not want to miss this great opportunity. I haven’t attended a global SoTM conference before, and this news gives me another hope in life or at least something to look forward to. And maybe, just maybe, this is the ‘something’ I’ve been looking and waiting for. The ‘something’ that can numb the perpetual feeling of emptiness.

And since I only applied for partial support from SoTM (only the accommodation fees and conference tickets were covered), I need to ask my employer to cover the remaining travel expenses I have. Unfortunately, I was informed that there are no available international travel funds for non-contractuals like me. Sucks, right? The fact that UP couldn’t support me keeps me up at night and eats at my soul again. But I do not want to give this opportunity up. No, not yet. And so I took my chances and talked to some people in the OSM Philippines community about my dilemma. Although they also couldn’t provide financial assistance for me, I am still grateful as they have shown overflowing moral support to me, especially when they learned I got nominated for the OSM Awards 2019.

I don’t want to give this up, as I have been eyeing to attend global SoTM since 2015. I was left with nothing but to support myself financially in this journey. I realized that nothing really comes easy, and so I need to take risks, even if it costs me a lot.

Not a day goes by where I don’t get panic and anxiety attacks thinking about the SoTM conference. As scholars of State of the Map 2019, we were asked to give a lightning talk of any topic we’d want to talk about. Oh, this is the first time I’d be doing an oral presentation in an international conference abroad, so all the anxieties are building up inside me as the day of my presentation gets closer.

Amidst all the chaos going on inside my head, I reminded myself to stay calm and take it easy. I decided to present one of the works UP Resilience Institute’s been doing since 2016. I gave a lightning talk on “Using OpenStreetMap Building Footprints Data for Population Distribution Model: A Case Study in Cavite, Philippines”. It was a challenge for me to present all our work – from methodology to results, all in 5 minutes, so I tried my best to share the learnings and challenges we’ve encountered as concise as possible. Good thing my friends from OSM-Philippines were there during my presentation to support me.

Grabbed from mapmakerdavid’s Twitter account

Grabbed from @mapmakerdavid’s Twitter account

The best favor I did for myself during the conference was to try being a social butterfly instead of staying as a wallflower. I began to come out of my introverted shell and engage with people – and it was the greatest part of my SoTM journey. It was really nice meeting the people from the OSM community all over the world – the people I only encounter online! It’s warming to engage with people with the same heart and passion for OSM.

Filipino delegates at SoTM 2019: Jess, @anditabinas, @feyeandal, @jenjereren, @seav, @mapmakerdavid

Filipino delegates at SoTM 2019: Jess, @anditabinas, @feyeandal, @jenjereren, @seav, @mapmakerdavid

I was also very delighted to meet Tim Sutton (!!!!), one of the developers of InaSAFE. As a heavy user of InaSAFE in the Philippines, I got goosebumps all over me when I met and talk with him! Too bad I wasn’t able to take a selfie with him!

Of course, meeting the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) in person has been fun! Although I have already met a couple of them during State of the Map-Asia last 2016, it’s always thrilling to see them.

Grabbed from Nick Brown’s: Ph, Taiwan and Indonesian colleagues at lunch :muscle:

Grabbed from Nick Brown’s: Ph, Taiwan and Indonesian colleagues at lunch :muscle:

And who would have thought that I will get close to my roommates @tshedy, and @Fanevajanahary, who are both champion mappers in Africa (Lesotho and Madagascar), and Ate @jenjereren, an advocate and mom mapper. They are easy to be with, and I also got inspired by the works they’ve been doing in their respective fields. Check out #MapLesotho!

First photo with my SoTM roomies, Tshedy, Jen, (me) and Faneva

First photo with my SoTM roomies: Tshedy, Jen, (me) and Faneva

It was also nice to meet my fellow scholars during the conference. We roamed around town during the last day of our stay in Heidelberg.

Going out with my co-scholars!

Going out with my co-scholars!

Big thanks to OSM Foundation for the scholarship grant and the opportunity you have provided us. Special thanks to Dorothea Kazzazi for guiding the scholars from the beginning up until the conference concludes.

It has been a week since the conference. None of these would have happened if I did not take the risk. Maybe this was the ‘something’ I’ve been searching for to be able to fill that emptiness inside me, even for a moment. It was truly a risk but it’s a risk I’m glad I took. Thank you to everyone, especially OSM Foundation who made my SoTM journey worthwhile. :)


Comment from arnalielsewhere on 4 October 2019 at 08:10


Comment from neyziellexrrc_ on 4 October 2019 at 14:04


Comment from DeBigC on 4 October 2019 at 14:57

I think this is amazing, how you manage to overcome adversity to get on with your mapping and learning. There are some people who don’t have these challenges, who get distracted easily and leave little trace of themselves in the map. I think they should all read your diary entry and think about their priorities - and be inspired to be as efficient as you are.

Comment from matthewsheffield on 5 October 2019 at 11:04

Congratulations. It sounds like it was a great experience for you, and other benefited from you being there too- of course! Keep going, lots of us find life hard, but you are a wonderful example of bravery.

Comment from wille on 15 October 2019 at 09:38

Congratulations for your talk and for your work on OSM! You’re great!

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