Unlike most ThinkQuest team stories, we did not all come together through random web forums or quick Internet searches. We formed more naturally, more viscerally. We used existing relationships and forged new ones within our group. This team bonded both on an academic and a personal level.
The site was born at ThinkQuest Live 2005 on the night after the awards ceremony: Shakeeb, Raghu and Wieland were playing pool in Marriot lounge. In the same setting as the euphoric outbursts of Einstein and Basquiat, they began talking about possibilities for a new site. With both Raghu and Shakeeb ethnically descended from the South Asian subcontinent, the immediate reaction was to form a site discussing tsunamis and their impact. Wieland, a broker of reason during these discussions, argued that tsunamis were geographically limited in their scope and that we should broach more than one natural disaster. Further discussion (and a few hours later) the three determined that a unique angle to the issue would be the evaluation of both natural and synthetic disasters and how to properly mitigate their holistic consequences.
They took this idea back with them to Virginia, Texas and Germany, respectively, and began daily instant messaging and email conversations. Wieland volunteered himself to act as Assistant Coach to help us learn and develop 3D imaging and video design, while Shakeeb and Raghu would be the primary team members. Using the knowledge the three had acquired from previous top placing websites, they began establishing a rough outline for the site and progress.
Within a few weeks with a general structure in place, Raghu introduced his classmate Henry to the group. Henry, with years of experience with research intensive policy debates, would work with Raghu and provide a balanced and unbiased view of the various disasters the Project covered. He would work alongside Raghu to form the content development aspect of the site, in addition to aiding with the Chinese translation.
Shakeeb, having already met some motivated students with his earlier hobby website, introduced Wyn to the group. Wyn was touted as the one of the best flash developers on the web, and early samples of his work confirmed this to our pleasure. With the help of a few friends in Hong Kong, Shakeeb invited Jennifer to the group. Jennifer’s fluency in both English and Traditional Chinese, along with her strong interest in natural disasters made her the perfect candidate to complete our group. Jennifer worked alongside Wyn, Henry, and Raghu to provide insight and format content with the chinese translation.
After hours and weeks of researching, re-researching, discussing, editing, programming, writing and translating from October until March, we finally finished our site – ProjectArcix.
The reason behind the name is twofold: Firstly, we recognize that a site chronicling every major disaster is quite an intellectual undertaking. The word “Project” thus approrpriately implies and connotes an ongoing effort, rather a definitive and absolute source of information. Ultimately, we hope site visitors will learn about the various disasters detailed on the site and in the event of such an occurrence and be prepared to deal with them in the most educated, rational, and controlled manner. Secondly, arcis is the Latin term for stronghold or fortress, for we believe our site wields vast amounts of thoroughly researched information and can be used as an “information” stronghold to provide information to protect you and your loved ones.
The Global Perspective
The fundamental idea driving ProjectArcix was that disasters are universal occurrences, capable of impacting anyone, at anytime, anywhere in the world. With this understanding, the team was assembled with diversity in mind. We represent four countries, three continents and an immeasurable compilation of cultural experiences. Henry, Raghu and Shakeeb hail from the United States, Wyn from Canada and Jennifer from Hong Kong (Wieland from Germany is our Assistant Coach). Despite some similar nationalities, our cultural and life experiences lend incredible insight into different aspects of disasters and the methodology with which they are addressed.
Those members living in the United States each provided several unique skill sets and equally unique cultural perspectives. Henry and Raghu, both from the Houston, Texas region in the Southern United States perfectly illustrate this example. Henry is of Taiwanese descent and spent five years overseas. Raghu is of South-Indian descent, but was born and raised in the United Kingdom. Shakeeb also spent a few years overseas in India and now resides in North-Eastern part of the country in Virginia. Having lived in several places, each understood the visceral, permanently scarring toll disasters took in addition to the cultural implications such occurrences bore. Thus, despite a shared citizenship, each individual was able to provide contextual analysis appropriately based on his diversity.
Wyn and Jennifer, both of Chinese descent, provided a wholly international approach to our group, allowing the three ‘Americans’ greater insight into disasters’ universality. As a Canadian, Wyn was exposed to a combination of local French, native Chinese and intrinsic Western values. Jennifer, as a native resident of Hong Kong, provided a very unique vantage point as the only member residing in her home. She provided critical translation and content analysis that gave the other members a truly international angle.
This diverse group came together in response to observations of insufficient disaster management throughout the world. Each person’s experiences in conjunction with technical and literary abilities helped craft this site with the intention of helping those who might potentially be affected by such situations. We are not just a heterogeneous mixture of students, but also an international collage of ideas. All of us are aware of the ramifications unmitigated disasters have on innocent civilians world-over. Accordingly, ProjectArcix was created with a global perspective to provide information to a global populace.