In August 2015 I participated in a two-week project called ‘Wikipedia for Peace’ in Vienna, Austria. It was co-hosted by SCI Austria and Wikimedia Austria. The aim was to write Wikipedia articles on justice and peace in minority languages. It had been 13 years since my last VSI project but this one was very appealing as it combined my interests in Irish and in justice issues. It was an unusual VSI project in that it was non-physical and it was office based. Also unusual was the fact that we worked over weekends and had free time mid-week. This was so that the Wikipedia experts could come in on their days off to coach us which is a testament to their passion as they are all volunteers. A volunteer from Amnesty International also came to talk to us about the Arms Trade. We researched and wrote our articles in the SCI office in the beautiful city centre, eating lunch there or picnicking outside. One enjoyable day was spent taking photographs of local monuments to add to Wikimedia Commons.
Along with the two Irish we had volunteers from the Basque Country, France, Ukraine, Serbia, Bulgaria, Portugal and Germany. We were looked after really well by our young co-ordinators Thomas Schallhart and Jana Forsthuber who were really committed to the project and who had the remarkable capacity to remain both warm and chilled for the two weeks. Our accommodation was in a Scout Centre just a metro ride out of the city which was adequate and very handy. In the second week we hosted Wiki Tuesday which is a regular gathering of the Wikipedia community in Vienna. We made it a cultural evening, cooking our native dishes (Is vegetarian shepherd’s pie an Irish dish?). We set up a screen to show the Wikipedians what we had produced during our time, an impressive selection of languages and topics. Wikimedia want to promote and develop minority languages and they were very pleased with the results. Both they and SCI Austria were so gracious and supportive and they made this a really positive experience.