Unicode Technology Workshop 2023

MIIS classrooms were conspicuously more empty the days during which the Unicode Technology Workshop transpired at Google’s Sunnyvale campus. So do we get a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes of the latest and cutting edge of everything Unicode-related hosted by one of the world’s top tech companies? Absolutely!

In this article, you’ll get a sneak peak of the conference as seen through the eyes of MIIS students. We’ll get the main takeaways and reactions from MIIS students in the TLM program.

First, we’ll hear from Sue Su:

What an AMAZING workshop! This is my first time attending a technology workshop and I am glad that I decided to participate in it. There are so many fantastic people and insightful sessions at Unicode Workshop!

Their story was truly motivating, and it encouraged me to continue pursuing my goals in the language and technology industry.

Over 20 MIIS students, alumni, and faculty attended the Unicode Technology Workshop.

Kayli Sullivan has a similarly rave review of the workshop:

I had a fantastic opportunity to attend the Unicode Technology Workshop with several of my classmates! There were so many inspiring attendees present, and I really enjoyed listening to experienced professionals passionately discuss the various intersections between coding and internationalization.

Honestly, some of the topics were beyond my current level of understanding (especially coding-wise), but nonetheless extremely interesting! I feel motivated to learn as much as I can and hopefully attend next year’s session!

The workshop was hosted at Google’s Sunnyvale campus.

Peng Xu summarizes her experience with a detailed snapshot of her favorite moments:

I just wrapped up my first Unicode workshop experience at Google, Sunnyvale, and what an incredible way to spend my birthday! I had the pleasure of being surrounded by a group of brilliant and insightful individuals in the i18n and l10n industries. The two-day session was packed with fantastic presentations, engaging discussions, and workshops led by a diverse range of industry professionals. I learned so much about Unicode and i18n, understanding why it holds significant importance for localizers. Big thanks to the organizers at the Unicode Consortium for making it all happen!

One highlight for me was Joel Sahleen‘s presentation on the second day, “The Unicode Guide to Internationalization.” His insights into current issues and proposed strategies to tackle them were enlightening. Joel also unveiled a secret website with the potential to build a community for everyone in the industry interested in learning more about i18n and Unicode. Stay tuned for more on that!

A special shoutout to Yiqing Lu, who delivered a lightning talk on bridging the gap between engineers and localization project managers. It was an amazing talk, and you absolutely nailed it. And, of course, it’s always valuable to chat with MIIS alumni Evelyn Yonhee Kim and Matthew Chen, hearing their insights and journeys in the industry.

A big thank you to all the MIIS students who attended the workshop. I look forward to more learning and collaboration in the future. Cheers!

Joel Sahleen, who oversees internationalization at Spotify, introduced the Unicode Guide to Internationalization project at the workshop.

Yiqing Lu gave an insightful talk during the workshop:

It’s my first time attending UTW 2023 held by the Unicode Consortium at Google. The two-day session was like a whirlwind of knowledge and I had the incredible opportunity to immerse myself in the world of internationalization and technology.

During these two days, I’ve been pondering a question: as a member of the localization team, what ideas can I get from the engineer’s perspective to better collaborate with different stakeholders? More importantly, as someone with professional knowledge in localization, how can I contribute to improving the collaboration between the localization and engineering teams in my own way? Based on these considerations, I decided to share my insights on “methods to make the collaboration between localization and engineering teams more effective” during the 5-minute lightning talk session. This is the power that I refer to as “passion for what I love.” I feel it is my responsibility as a localizer to make more people understand our work methods and requirements and help different stakeholders collaborate better.

I would like to express special thanks to Yelena Proskurin who has been my solid support whether in professional knowledge or mental confidence. Also, I want to express my deep gratitude to Patrick Chew and Robert Melo who helped me analyze the needs of the engineering team from a software engineer’s perspective patiently and thoroughly. Last but not least, a big shout-out to my classmates from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Their support and encouragement are the strength that enables me to stand confidently on the stage!

I know I have a long way to go, and there’s much to learn through experience, but I believe in the power of passion! Find your passion and joyfully strive for it!

MIIS’ own Yiqing Lu gave a lightning talk about empowering collaboration between localization and engineering teams.

Jihyun Kim shares inspiring takeaways on the preservation of language and writing systems, Adam Wooten’s networking wisdom, and a great book recommendation:

I am grateful for the enriching experience at the Unicode Technology Workshop 2023, where I’ve come to realize the vast knowledge awaiting exploration. l10n and i18n always prompt me to regret why I’ve got to know all these only now!

The inspiring journey of brothers Abdoulaye Barry and Ibrahima Barry in creating the ADLaM writing system, driven by the hope for universal literacy, deeply resonated with me, as King Sejong’s story of creating the Korean writing system Hangul, parallels their great and beautiful journey. I hope ADLaM thrives and is loved by many people.

I’m also excited about the upcoming release of The Unicode Guide to I18n, with potential contributions that can be made by MIIS students. Very eager to delve into this valuable resource and enhance my understanding of Unicode and i18n.

Grateful for the chance to connect with industry experts at the event. Professor Adam Wooten’s enduring advice on networking, “Be there to help,” echoed in my mind. Genuine and impactful, it’s a networking tip I hold dear. While details from Adam’s Trados and MemoQ classes may fade, his wisdom to always lend a helping hand will stay with me.

This workshop brought to mind the themes in “Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh” by Helena Norberg-Hodge, highlighting the importance of safeguarding diverse languages, cultures, and traditions. Witnessing the crucial role that Unicode plays in realizing the value of these elements was truly eye-opening, and I’m appreciative of their dedication and effort.

(Being my all-time favorite book, it has had a profound impact on my life. I strongly recommend reading it!)

Lesley Chang summarizes what made the workshop memorable for her:

This week, I had the most memorable, eye-opening, and enriching experience at the Unicode Technology Workshop at Google. Thank you to the Unicode Consortium for organizing this event and opening your doors to students.

I am deeply inspired by the positive impact and changes the l10n and i18n community is bringing to this world. From the story of developing ADlaM script for the Fulani language of Abdoulaye Barry and Ibrahima Barry, the Script Encoding Initiative (SEI) project of the University of California, Berkeley in advancing the digitization of minority languages around the world, the compelling sharing of Conrad Nied on how Facebook enables the accessibility of their platform to emergent online communities by launching 38 languages in 2 years, the dedication of Michael McKenna on CLDR Person Name Formatting that allows people’s identities to be properly displayed, to the charismatic Jennifer Daniel‘s devotion on establishing the inclusiveness of emojis—you’ve motivated me to strive to be a contributor in making the world a more accessible and inclusive place for all communities.

A heartfelt thank you to each person I had the pleasure of meeting, chatting with, and engaging with. Your openness in sharing inspiring stories, personal journeys, valuable experiences, and profound insights means a lot to me. While there’s still work in progress on my end, I look forward to the prospect of collaborating with all of you in the near future.

Finally, I am thankful for the MIIS community with such a supportive cohort, professors, and mentors. Biggest appreciation to Professor Adam Wooten for sharing this event and Professor Ghada Shakir for bringing the MIIS family together at the workshop.

And that wraps up our behind-the-scenes whirlwind tour of the UTW 2023! Thanks to all the students who contributed their impressions of the workshop, we are all so excited to see how your Unicode adventures evolve!

(Note: all hyperlinks in this article were added by the editors for an improved user experience.)

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