Summer 2013 was hard on me. The love story for the company I was working for was over, and by the end of September, I had resigned. I was looking for a new gig, but mostly I was looking for a sense of belonging.
A few months before I had helped Paolo in kickstarting the WordPress Meetup in Vienna, and along with that it came the idea of organizing a WordCamp in the coming year.
One of the last days of my notice period, over lunch, and probably as a joke, Paolo suggested me to get a ticket for the upcoming WordCamp Europe in Leiden, so to understand how a WordCamp was operating. I had no idea where Leiden was, nor what WordCamp Europe was, nor how to get a ticket for it.
He patiently explained to me about the city in the Netherlands that was hosting the first regional WordCamp, how to get tickets, and a few more details. I book a last minute flight to Amsterdam, and so I went.
When I got there I got a little lost. Early in the morning and everyone seemed to know what to do, except me. I knew a few people, but not many and the buzz around the registration desk was a little overwhelming. Until Paolo came along again with another proposal: “Wanna help? You are in! We have to fill in for a room manager on the second track. This is the schedule, make sure the stage runs smoothly, good luck, have fun.”
“What’s a room manager? Where is the second track? Smoothly? How smooth, is smooth enough?”
No answers were given, and in a few seconds, I was catapulted into the working machine of WCEU, coordinating people to get on stage, making sure there were water bottles in the backstage, sending mic runners along the aisles.
And that’s how I got sucked in into a fantastic project. I did not plan it, I was not prepared, and I never got tired of it.
I’m sure it’s a typical experience for most of the contributors to the WordPress community. You happen to be there when your help is needed, and you provide support to the best of your capacity.
The first lesson I learned in Leiden: give people the chance to contribute, and they will.
The second lesson I learned in Leiden (still very valid today): if you like to work hard, Paolo is your guy!
WordCamp Europe 2019 is looking for new organizers: apply now!