Thank You/Erlan Vega
I learned to speak English by fighting vandalism on Wikipedia. My story has all the pieces of a classic tale: people working together for the forces of good, uniting against a common enemy, and teaching each other valuable lessons along the way.
I take a lot of pride in my work on Wikipedia, because what I do makes Wikipedia better for everyone who uses it. I’m what’s called a “vandal fighter” — when a user intentionally adds incorrect information, I stand on guard to correct or delete it.
One day, I teamed up with another Wikipedia editor to fight a particularly stubborn offender. Her Spanish was clearly not great, and my English not much better. But united by this common task, we managed to communicate enough to join forces and erase the vandal’s work.
We made an unspoken promise to each other — to keep teaching each other these new languages. And we did. With her help, my English improved so quickly that I was able to get a job teaching it in a local school.
Now, here I am today with the job of my dreams — and I can trace all of it back to this one beautiful experience. It’s a one in a million story, but so is Wikipedia.
I’m proud of my efforts to help preserve Wikipedia. I hope you’ll join me this year in doing what you can to keep Wikipedia strong.
Erlan Vega lives with his wife and daughter in La Paz, Bolivia, where he works as an English teacher. In addition to writing and translating articles on Wikipedia as an administrator, he also fights vandals and edits Wiktionary, the free dictionary. Erlan has been editing Wikipedia since 2005.
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