Thursday, March 28, 2024

Volunteer Spotlight — Roozbeh Pournader

Roozbeh Pournader ImageThe rewards have been much greater than I could have ever imagined.”

Roozbeh Pournader has been a volunteer at Unicode since 1999. His first exposure to Unicode was in the late 90’s when he and several colleagues were working on a project called FarsiWeb at Sharif University trying to figure out how best to properly support Persian on the internet. They encountered several “home-made” solutions.

They also discovered The Unicode Standard. Quickly realizing Unicode was the right path, Roozbeh reached out and found a welcoming community of supportive and like-minded technologists. Roozbeh recalls engaging with Mark Davis, Ken Whistler, and Rick McGowan who “were there to help anybody who wanted to use or contribute to Unicode.” Roozbeh became an active contributor when recognizing areas within Unicode that he could help improve.

Roozbeh arrived in the United States in 2008, having represented an Iranian standards organization to Unicode before that. Since then, he has also been a technical representative for several US organizations to the Consortium, a Technical Director, and is currently a Vice Chair of the Script Encoding Working Group. He remembers how excited he was to be involved in person with Unicode when he first came to the US, sharing that he walked off the plane on a Wednesday and on Friday he was attending his first UTC meeting.

Asked what he likes most about working with Unicode, he admits that it is hard to say. He knows that what he has done and is doing has an enormous impact on communities around the world. Roozbeh came from an underserved community and is pleased that he can use his skills to support minority languages, historical languages, and writing systems for other underserved communities. He is especially proud of his work in the area of Arabic script and says everyday is a joy to work with people who are so dedicated to the Unicode cause.

On a personal note, Roozbeh enjoys eating anything his wife prepares, and says that as scientists (his wife is a biologist), they are fascinated by scientific methods of cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. His favorite dish is Kabab Tabe’i, a mixture of ground meat, onions and tomatoes. When asked about any hobbies outside of work, Roozbeh says that Unicode is really not his work anymore, it is his life’s work and where he spends most of his free time.

His parting words were to encourage anyone who is interested in Unicode to get involved. There are big and small ways to contribute, and he recommends just reaching out as the Unicode community is so welcoming.

Roozbeh says he has made lifetime friends of the highest quality and for that he is forever grateful.

Adopt a Character and Support Unicode’s Mission

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Adopt a character or emoji to give it the attention it deserves, while also supporting Unicode’s mission to ensure everyone can communicate in their own languages across all devices.

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