From my experience, it was a blast!

It’s Monday, and I cannot get my thinkings straight up around the job. Not because it’s Monday but because my head is full of good memories from this year’s WordCamp which happened last week.

 

WordCamp Zagreb

This year’s WordCamp Croatia has held in capital city Zagreb from 1. to 3. September but for me, it started somewhere at the begin of August when I received an email from Marija who was the lead volunteer this year. I’ve received some details about the volunteering on WordCamp and the question whether I am still interested in being a volunteer. And yes, I was interested in being a volunteer on this year’s WordCamp.  I replied to the Marija within one hour because I was so happy that I’d been chosen to be a WordCamp volunteer.

We exchanged few more emails, and in one of them, there was a coupon code for a free WordCamp ticket. I didn’t buy the ticket before because I waited to see whether they will accept me as a volunteer and I knew that volunteers get a free ticket to WordCamp. In the email Marija has written a note that there’s no refund for tickets and that if I’ve already bought the ticket, I can do one of the following (quote in English):

  • don’t use the coupon code (karma points ++)
  • use a coupon code and give your ticket to someone else (karma points +)
  • sell the ticket you already bought  (capitalism karma points +, tax points +)

At first, I’ve thought that was funny, and it had put a smile on my face, but then I’ve realized; hey here’s another way to contribute even more. No one told that volunteers cannot buy the ticket, we had only been informed that we have a free ticket.

So I’ve decided to purchase the ticket and not just the regular one but the one with the higher price. Someone from the marvelous team of organizers had an idea to release 40 freelancer tickets with the doubled price so that people can help even more with organizing costs. In return back for buying this ticket, organizing team promised that everyone who buys it gets a mention in an article and closing remarks.

But I can assure you that this is not the only thing that you get back for buying this ticket.

 

So, I’ve had my freelancer ticket and the day came, a day before the workshops day. The famous Jurica and I arrived at the Zagreb one day earlier because we wanted to attend the workshop but we didn’t want to be tired of traveling and fall asleep during the workshops.

Also, there was another reason because of which we arrived one day earlier than we planned. Some guy called Mauricio mentioned that he wants to meet with everyone from the team who is in Zagreb on Thursday. He is not from Croatia and doesn’t speak the Croatian language, but he had the wish to learn some Croatian. I must say that he was outstanding in learning the Croatian language. One of the first things that our WordCamp Messiah Lucijan has taught him was a phrase like this  “Mogu li narućiti rundu pića na svoj račun?”. Which in the English language would be something like “Can I order a round of drinks into my account?”

1. New WordCamp Croatia Messiah 🙂

I didn’t mention, but volunteers, organizers, and speakers were all included in WhatsApp group chat. You know, the kind of one which makes your phone rings for a whole day and then you must stop with your work to read 50 and more messages from the past five minutes. Yes, we had that too, and this was an idea that Marija brought this year.

When I’ve read how Mauricio knows the Croatian language like he was born in Croatia, I’ve said to Jurica that there’s that one guy from Spain who speaks the Croatian language almost perfectly and we must travel to Zagreb one day earlier to meet with him. After all both, Jurica and I are not native English speakers, and having a chance to meet with a foreign guy who speaks the Croatian language is not something that you want to miss.

 

We arrived in Zagreb, found the place where the folks had agreed that we would meet on Thursday and we joined them. There were only two seats left at the table, and I’ve had a lucky to sit next to the complete strangers Mauricio, Anastasios and Fotis. Later the George from Georgia has joined us. Well, he didn’t join us directly from Georgia, but from another part of the table. We called him George from Georgia because he is from Georgia.

We had had a dinner, few drinks, birthday cake, the time was passing, I only exchanged few words with those guys. I was mostly listening to them, but I didn’t hear too much because of all the noise of the people from the street. And some lady was singing from her window, which I didn’t see before in my life.

The dinner was ending, and most of the folks went home, Jurica and I had decided to join with Ivelina, Milica and other guys who planned to go in sheesha bar. Ivelina is a digital nomad who really really likes sheesha. We went to some astonishing sheesha bar that Ivelina suggested where they serve you broken hookah. We had a great time trying to repair that hookah and talking with each other until 2 AM. Well, except me.

I am so good at communicating with people that I’ve just met, that I’ve only managed to spoke few words only. I think that others were fascinated by how quiet can I be. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, Jurica and I wanted to attend workshops really rested, and we managed to do that by getting to our apartment at 3 AM and sleep for only three of four hours.

Next day at the workshops I felt so rested that I’ve had only enough power to keep track of first workshop and half of the second one. Both workshops were great, and I wished to have more power for the second one so that I can listen Nevena more carefully about her talk on the topic of writing blog posts in the way of telling stories. That would probably help me to write better articles.

But I’ve had a chance to fill up my batteries on the third workshop, I’ve closed my eyes for a few seconds more than usual when I blink, and that helped me for the rest of the day. I just want to say that Tomislav did a great job with that third workshop, and too bad that he didn’t manage to say everything that he planned.

Workshops finished we had an hour or two to get back to our apartment, take a shower and run to the place where the speaker’s dinners held before the free food was gone. Which usually doesn’t happen because the organizers order enough food and drinks which are free for speakers, volunteers, and whole organizing team. So we had another chance to stay awake until 3 AM and party with the awesome folks that we meet a day before. But we decided to go to sleep at 1 AM because volunteers needed to be at the conference location at 6:30 AM.

 

We managed to be there at 7 AM, and we met with the rest of the team and started to work hard, really hard. No, I’m just kidding! Almost everything was very well prepared and ready, we just needed to help the waiters to start up the coffee machine and we were ready to welcome almost 300 people and give them their accreditations and bag full of cool freebies like WordCamp t-shirt, pen, promo card with 20% coupon code, promo card where you need to fix a line of the code and WordCamp stickers.

2. The amazing team

Some of us volunteers were doing another type of jobs, like running around with microphones in their hands. Two of volunteers Milana and Jurica were tweeting all day long. I think that they now have a new skill to put on their CV, something like Social Media Expert.

Jurica is the guy whom I introduced earlier in this short blog post, but Milana is the lady who you have to get to know her. She is such a cool person. I must admit that I was a bit terrified of her before I’ve had a chance to meet her in person because I’ve heard that she send her kid to first school day on Friday. But when I meet her I was like wow. The number of jokes that I’ve heard that day from her I can’t even hear if I attend three shows of that guy Tomislav who talked about freelancing. I can’t remember the name of the talk he presented at the conference, but I know it has to do something with cows or bulls. Anyway, it was one of the good talks that I’ve attended on this WordCamp.

It’s not that I’ve attended all of the talks because I was there to help and not to sit and listen to all that amazing talks from the people from around the globe. When you are volunteering conferences like WordCamps, you need to help the organizing team during the whole conference day.

You need to welcome all attendees and ask them their first name because everyone thinks that we split accreditations by the last name. Which is something that we don’t do because it’s funnier this way. You need to hang out with other amazing volunteers and get to know them. You need to test the food before everyone else because of you have a chance to do that. And you need to mingle around and meet all other folks.

Like for example if you see that someone is having slightly different color on accreditation and you go to to ask them why their accreditation is different. And it is because that person bought that freelancer ticket and now he stands out from the crowd. Just like I did, and then few folks approached me to ask about the accreditation.  And I’ve felt good because people are approaching me and I have a chance to introduce myself.

Or maybe people will just read my name from it, and they will already know that I have this slightly different accreditation and that I’m freelancer. That happened to me on contributor day on Sunday when I went outside because I’ve almost fallen asleep when I’ve tried to contribute to the WordPress core.

3. Freelancer ticket

Yes, it was a long conference day with awesome after party, and I was exhausted. We even had after after party, and I’m not sure if there was after after after party, because I was exhausted and I went to the apartment while others were still partying somewhere in Zagreb. I’m not even sure whether I’ve paid for that last beer I’ve had. So, if I didn’t pay it, I wanted to apologize to everyone. Next time when we meet, just remind me that you paid for my drink and I will be like: Mogu li narućiti rundu piča na svoj račun?

 

OK, enough about the drinks. It is Sunday, the contributor day. The day when you have a chance to do something good and to contribute to WordPress in different ways. You can help the core team by fixing bugs. Or developing a new version of WordPress, like Mauricio, Anastasios and Bernhard did. Well, I’m not sure whether they built a new version of WordPress, but they probably did fix few bugs because they were doing it the whole time.

I was not so much in a mood for fixing bugs, so I went to see how Jurica handles the team that translates WordPress and plugins and themes. Jurica is the leader of the Croatian translator/polyglot team. I’ve told you he is famous, everybody from Croatian community knows him. And if someone wants to translate the string “Howdy” into “Vozdra” he needs to ask Jurica for permission to do that.

When I saw that the translation team had translated almost everything into the Croatian language, I knew that there is nothing that I can do there. So I went outside to catch some fresh air, and I’ve had a chance to talk with Aleksandar who has some superpowers. Immediately when I stepped out of the building, he knew that I am Ivan Paulin and that I’m freelancer. I didn’t even get a chance to say hello.

Anyway, that guy traveled like more than 10 000 kilometers with his car to give talks at the WordCamps in different countries. Tell me that this is not the way to contribute to WordPress and community.  When he said that, I wanted to hide that freelancer accreditation that I wore around my neck whole Sunday.

I thought this was the right way to contribute to the community! Travel around the world and give talks or maybe be a volunteer on WordCamps in other countries. Then, I was immediately rushed inside the building to join the community team to hear what Milan has to say about the next year’s WordCamp Europe which will happen in Belgrade next year and how can I apply as a volunteer. Milan wasn’t in there, so I’ve taken over his place.

No, not the position of lead WordCamp Europe organizer, but the seat in the room where the community team has introduced the amazing world of WordCamps and WordPress meetups, to the lady who was attending WordCamp for the first time in her life. And she was so thrilled, that she immediately wanted to be part of the community.

Then Emanuel has asked her if she intends to speak at the meetups or the WordCamps and she responded that she doesn’t feel comfortable to talk in front of a lot of strangers. On which the Jasmina asked her if she knew any of us from before. She responded by saying that she doesn’t know any of us, and Jasmina said her something like: Well you have just spoken in front of the peoples who you don’t know.  Which make sense and now that lady doesn’t have the excuse to not to give talks at meetups or WordCamps. Just like me.

I don’t have that excuse anymore because when Emanuel asked who have a will to speak in WordCamp, I’ve responded that I have a will but doesn’t have a topic. Then when we all agreed that everyone uses that as an excuse. Marija then asked what topic can someone use to speak on WordCamps, and I blurt out: “What about the idea of the talk that will encourage people to volunteer at the WordCamps? Someone can do that, right?”. And just like that, no more excuse for me.

The Contributor day was close to the end, which meant that it’s time for tourist walk through the Zagreb. This is something that we in Croatia have each year after the contributor day, and this year I didn’t attend because I was tired and needed to drive three hours back to home. I regret that I didn’t do it because I wanted to hang out a bit more with all that awesome people that I’ve meet, but I went home feeling happy that I had a chance to meet them, and had an opportunity to talk with them.

 

If I wasn’t the part of the team, I think that I wouldn’t have a chance to meet so many people from Croatia that were the part of the team and everyone else from other countries and that would be my biggest regret. Yes, there were times when I was tired, and I wanted to have more time to rest, or when I didn’t know how to start a conversation with people, so I felt bit uncomfortable. But being a tired is a small price you pay for having a great experience. And going out there and speak out with strangers or introduce yourself and talk in front of the audience is just one step to overcome your fears and challenge yourself.

So, go out there, be part of the community, help by being a volunteering or give talks at the conference. You have nothing to lose, and you get so much in return.

About the Author

Freelance WordPress developer who offers full stack web development services. Occasionally writes about business and WordPress development. When not in front of the computer can be found on a bicycle or enjoying other outdoor activities.

Leave a Reply 6 comments

Rahela - September 6, 2017 Reply

Awesome story! It’s so detailed I have a feelin I was there…Vozdra!

    Ivan Paulin - September 6, 2017 Reply

    Thank you Rahela! I hope it will encourage you to be part of this awesome community. Vozdra 🙂

Lucijan Blagonic - September 6, 2017 Reply

Thank you for the article! ❤️ It was a real pleasure to have you with us, and I’m hoping you will apply that talk for one of the upcoming meetups! 👌 Keep up contributing! 💪

    Ivan Paulin - September 6, 2017 Reply

    Thank you Lucijan! Yes, I’m thinking about to apply. 🙂

Aleksandar Savkovic - September 7, 2017 Reply

Hi Ivan,

When I eat a lot of bananas, I become BANANAMAN 🙂

Thanks for mentioning me in your article and I have to say that you did well by buying a freelancer ticket and that helps the community of course but sharing knowledge and experience is more important from my point of view.

Join meetups and apply to speak, volunteer or whatever floats your boat, even telling your friends how awesome WordPress is might help community growth.

Milan would say ” Code is poetry but community is where the heart is ” and please take his seat in Local Organizing Team for WCEU 2018

See you in Zagreb or Belgrade and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors 🙂

    Ivan Paulin - September 8, 2017 Reply

    Hi Aleksandar,

    Thank you for inspiring me.
    I agree with you that things like sharing the knowledge and helping in organizing meetups and WordCamps are more important.

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