In 2009, when she was 15 years old, Evangeline Han began contributing to Wikipedia from her home computer. Evangeline was being home-schooled, and her computer — and Wikipedia — were a gateway to sharing knowledge with others who were also learning outside the classroom. Evangeline has since made close to 10,000 edits — among the most edits for anyone her age from Malaysia.
“I think it’s important,” she says, “that young people edit Wikipedia.”
But Evangeline’s advice is tempered by her own reality: In Malaysia, she had to get her parents’ permission to become a Wikipedian. And the rule in her household was: home-schooling first, Wikipedia second. “They were fine with me editing,” Evangeline says of her parents, “as long as I did my schoolwork and I didn’t do Wikipedia during my school time.”
Evangeline’s love of Wikipedia dovetailed from her love of books and reading. She has been an avid reader since early childhood (her favorite book is Pride and Prejudice), and she started a book blog in 2010, where she writes reviews, interviews authors, and lays out her thoughts on the written word. When she doesn’t have too much homework, Evangeline, who’s a speed-reader, will finish one book per day. “When growing up, my parents encouraged me to read classic books, especially those books that won awards,” she says. “And I had this curriculum based solely on books. That’s why I grew up with a love for reading.”
Evangeline became so adept at editing Wikipedia that she was a Wikipedia Ambassador — a position that has volunteer mentors advise university students who are editing Wikipedia in the Wikimedia Foundation’s Wikipedia Education Program. “I will check through all the articles,” she says, “and make sure they are reliably sourced and give students advice if they need help and also review their articles.”
Evangeline, who was home-schooled for 13 years, graduated on June 25, 2013, and is now a university student herself. In August 2013, she moved to Shawnee, Oklahoma, where she’s an undergraduate at Oklahoma Baptist University. She’s majoring in English and minoring in TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages), and plans to become an English teacher. At Oklahoma Baptist University, she still uses Wikipedia, including as a tool to find references for papers.
Evangeline’s beginnings with Wikipedia happened almost on a lark. “I was waiting for my friend to pick me up and had free time,” she says, “so I surfed the net and I just created a Wikipedia account and received a message welcoming me to Wikipedia.”
That welcome was beneficial for Evangeline, for Wikipedia, and for Wikipedia’s readers around the world.
Jonathan Curiel, Development Communications Manager for the Wikimedia Foundation