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Emerging NREN Programme – An incredible journey

Katarina Simonovic (AMRES) at TNC23
Katarina Simonovic (AMRES) at TNC23

CONNECT met with Katarina Simonovic from the Serbian Academic Network (AMRES) who, under the auspices of the GÉANT Emerging NREN Programme (ENP), presented the Lightning Talk at TNC23 (Tirana, 5-9 June 2023): ‘Log Management and Visualisation of AMRES statistics using Open-source Tools’.  Katarina has been working at AMRES for over three years and, as a user service engineer, she is actively involved in the development and deployment of a variety of services. We talked about her involvement in the ENP, her participation at TNC23 and the African experience that followed.

Katarina, how did it all start?

One day last year, my CEO surprised me by inviting me to participate in the ENP and attend the TNC23 conference. I was obviously thrilled to be nominated as the AMRES candidate. The ENP programme seemed like a fantastic opportunity to meet new people, expand my knowledge, represent my NREN and my country.

How did your presentation fit into this experience?

Well, at the time, I was working with colleagues on a new log management and visualisation tool for AMRES logs. We decided to submit a TNC23 Lightning Talk proposal on our project. Honestly, I didn’t expect it to be selected, given the tough competition and the brilliant minds in the community, but my talk was accepted and suddenly I found myself preparing to present on a big stage in front of a large audience. The excitement turned into pressure, but that pressure really motivated me.

Tell us about your involvement in the ENP programme

It was a remarkable journey! I met colleagues from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Jordan, Malawi, Palestine, Peru, Sri Lanka and Tunisia. We discussed traditions, food, cultural differences and future plans. GÉANT representatives delivered insightful presentations on community projects, networks and services. We also shared knowledge about tools, software and service deployments. Everyone was kind and friendly. These interactions motivated me to support my Serbian community even more. I reflected on how my involvement could help to improve our services and enable our NREN to make the community stronger and more resilient.

And what about your Lightning Talk?

Initially, I felt nervous about presenting in such a large auditorium, especially since I’d never done it before. But once I stepped on the stage, the nerves vanished. The audience was hidden by the reflectors, which helped. Overall, it was an unforgettable experience. In addition, my colleagues’ positive feedback meant a lot to me. I believe that it was a proud moment for all of us at AMRES: implementing our idea and our project was incredibly rewarding.

Katarina Simonovic giving eduGAIN training in Ethiopia

Moving on to your role in the eduGAIN training team, can you share your experience delivering training in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia?

The opportunity to deliver training in Africa was both exciting and nerve-wracking. Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, welcomed us warmly. I soon recognised a familiar face among the training participants: Lensa Abera, my colleague from the ENP programme. It was fantastic to see her again. Lensa, who works for the Ethiopian academic network, looked after us so well, we couldn’t have hoped for a better host. One night, Lensa’s colleagues took us to a traditional Ethiopian restaurant. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The food was amazing, people danced and laughter filled the air. The atmosphere was delightful, and it left a lasting impression on me.

How did the training session go?

The training was fantastic! The attendees were highly motivated and engaged. They asked us detailed technical questions, making it a very interactive experience. Each night, as I laid down to sleep, I felt fulfilled, but also exhausted. The impact of the training lingered even after we returned home. Three months later, some of the attendees are in the final stages of establishing federations in their countries. Knowing that I played a part in their journey fills me with so much pride.

Reflecting on the past year, what stands out to you?

So much happened since I joined the ENP programme. My first TNC conference, the Lightning Talk and the friendships I’ve formed — all of these experiences hold immense value for me. Additionally, my transition from being an eduGAIN trainee to being able to contribute to AMRES becoming a full member of eduGAIN has been also so fulfilling. Looking ahead, I’m eager to continue to support research and education networking in my community.

Since the start of our chat Katarina’s positivity and enthusiasm about her work and the NREN environment were very clear: “I am so grateful to be part of the GÉANT community: it’s truly unique and offers a different perspective”. Thank you, Katarina for sharing your remarkable journey with us. Your dedication and passion are truly inspiring. This community is very lucky to have you!

About ENP

The ENP, funded by the GÉANT Project, has been delivered alongside TNC since 2018. The programme aims to integrate representatives from emerging NRENs from around the globe into the TNC community and to create further synergies and connections at different organisational levels between European and international NRENs.

For further information about the ENP, contact Leïla Dekkar, International Relations Project Manager at GÉANT

GÉANT CONNECT Magazine - CONNECT 46 -TNC24This article is featured on CONNECT 46, the latest issue of the GÉANT CONNECT Magazine!

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