This will be one of the most complex WordCamps reviews. I start writing it in a Greek terrace of the apartment we rented to stay in Athens, I stopped writing it because of a very unpleasant news (Jose Luis) and I finish it almost three weeks after having returned.
When I made the decision to sign up as part of the WCEU organizing team I couldn’t even imagine the emotional connotations it would have on my life 8 months later.
WCEU is unique, it is a WordCamp with many special things that has given me immense rewards on a personal level. I don’t know how else to explain it.
I think the secret is to take action, commit to something and do it with love without thinking about the result. In how many things in our life can we do that?
Sunday June 11th (still in Athens) I needed time to be alone, to reflect on all the relationships established, the hugs and the joy of being able to share with so many wonderful people that are part of this OpenSource ecosystem that is WP.
Years ago if you had asked me that I would be in Athens writing a post about an event of almost 3,000 people and of which I was a small part, I would think I was out of my mind.
Let’s start at the beginning.
As you may already know, WordCamps are community gatherings centered on talks and/or workshops. They serve as an excuse to train us (yes) but in reality the greatest connection and learning is found in the relationships we make with people.
In the case of the European, its scale does not leave you indifferent.
While in regional WCs the normal number of attendees is 200, 300, in the European WC the scale reaches 2,545 people.
I have been able to enjoy as an attendee in the last two face-to-face editions, Berlin (2019), Porto (2022).
Unlike the Spanish ecosystem, in the European case I had wanted to attend only as an attendee. Even though I speak English, I didn’t feel so confident because I don’t speak it regularly.
For Athens I decided that I would take a small step further and I was lucky to be selected for the community team.
At the beginning when the meetings start, almost 8 months before the event, I was surprised that each meeting was as I imagine, a UNESCO meeting.
Very interesting people from different fields, of different nationalities, languages and also located in different countries: Holland, Israel, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Slovakia, Greece.
As the group gets together and we start to really get to know each other, we spend some time getting to know each other. It is slow, but normal.
Many with lots and lots of experience being even one of the founders of this event, and one of the most known faces: Remkus de Vries, to people like me, who had not participated in it before.
My community group consisted of:
- Estela Rueda, Team Lead Organizer (UX Designer, Slovakia). Thank you Estela ❤️ (an amazing leader).
- Remkus de Vries (WordPress veteran, one of the most familiar faces in the community. Netherlands)
- Ioana Muresan (Happiness Engineer at WordPress.com, France)
- Ohia (designer, USA, currently Spain)
- Isotta Peira (good friend, community specialist at WP.com, from Italy, but living in Barcelona)
- Earl Cruz (Marketing, IT consulting agency, Luxenburg)
- Yannis Develekos (Marketing, Athens, Greece)
- Harris Papazoglou (Web Developer, Athens, Greece)
- Penny Anderson (Virtual Travel Assistant, USA)
- Liza Bogatyrev (Marketing at One.com, born in Russia, currently living in Sweden).
- Simona Simoniato (COO in an online training consultancy, Milan, Italy / Valencia, Spain)
- Tiago Silva (Marketing and event organization, Porto, Portugal)
Lovely people that I will always remember for all that I learned with them, especially speaking at the event, seeing their real behaviors beyond virtual meetings. Thank you for this path. 🙏
Actually, your work group becomes your organizational group. Except for the lead organizers of the event, each group is very independent from each other, and although they may interact occasionally, you have almost no interaction with the rest of the team.
It’s something I understand, but I think it could be improved so that when the day comes, at least we know who we are.
Our leading organizers:
Then we have teams by areas: photography, volunteers, content, public relations, design, support services, budgets, sponsors.
In turn, each group can have subgroups for tasks, or specific things that need to be managed.
NOTE: I was very sorry that Ohia could not participate in our group due to a bureaucratic issue. Many months of illusion and work and was very present at all times. He even sent his Wapuu to everyone he knew and to our team. Thank you Ohia ❤️
Back to the organization. The greatest responsibility, of course, lies with the lead organizers, not only globally, but also in each team, who act as bridges to manage such a complex team of so many people. We are more than 80 people in this.
Some groups have a lot of work before the event, and the day of the event almost nothing; others are the opposite, for months they don’t have much work, but when the event arrives they have to dedicate more hours.
Obviously, all organization is voluntary, so you must learn to organize your time well so that it does not generate friction with your daily tasks, be it work, family, etc.
As in everything, the secret is in the organization. If you have it (the secret), leave it in your comments, the rest of us will do the best we can. 😉
As every year, the WCEU is eagerly awaited. Of our Galician group, four of us have always been very faithful to this event: Juan Hernando, Carlos Longarela and Jorge González. We usually organize trips or accommodation together. From Galicia, our friend Jesús Amieiro also tends to join the bombardment.
Not only did we enjoy the event, as is evident, but also the tourism in the area. For me Athens was a dream, I always wanted to know this city, I love Greek gastronomy, eating it here is obviously another level.
Since it was a long trip, we decided to take more days and be able to do some sightseeing. We enjoyed like children, the Acropolis, the Parthenon, temples, gardens, the shopping districts, the streets, the chaos of a historic city, cradle of democracy.
City of contrasts, chaos, beauty and antiquity. It cannot be defined in a single adjective. Thousands of things have caught my attention, from cultural aspects of traffic and streets that lose the sidewalk, reminding me of Latin America, to impressive terraces dedicated to plants that capture my weakness for gardens.
Fantastic beaches, sunsets, art, vegetables, cheese, olives. Mediterranean in essence and flavors.
Complex language, which as Juan used to say: “It sounds like Spanish, but when you realize it, you don’t understand anything”. After a week I still can’t pronounce gracias(Efaristó) correctly, I still pronounce it as Evaristo.
Language is not a problem, everyone is fluent in English. International city full of tourism from all over the world. I have even been greeted by a Greek cab driver in Spanish. You make yourself understood.
My favorite day of the WC. This time, I was especially excited because I had been part of its organization.
The previous day we familiarized ourselves with the venue, immense, incredible, with a lot of majesty, like the architecture itself in Greece.
We were expecting more than 600 people who were going to collaborate in 23 teams. Being in the team I didn’t think a priori to be part of the WPTV table as I always do, but I realized that there weren’t many people and I ended up running it.
It was the best thing I could do because it generated two incredible things: (1) Meeting lovely people from other countries and (2) One of the nicest anecdotes I experienced at the event.
Nicholas Krastev is from Bulgaria and is the organizer of two meetups in Sofia, the capital city: WordPress Meetup Sofia and WooCommerce Sofia. In Bulgarian there is no moderator who approves the videos of their meetings and talks.
So I explained how the platform works, basic rules for uploading videos and we took the opportunity to approve all the videos that were pending in the moderation list.
His appreciation was such that he told me he would bring me some beers as a gift. And he did! With a special note that he gave me the next day.
It was the first time something like this had happened to me and I was very excited. I realized how important it is to simply do something for other people and that is the best reward.
For the time being I suggested Nicholas as editor so that in his language there is a moderator capable of approving videos in Bulgarian. And we have a nice friendship so that if you need anything from WPTV, you can contact me directly.
Lorna (Malaysia), Sebastian, from the French moderation team, and my great friend Carlos Longarela, who as always, a crack, brought up a fantastic idea to improve the whole subtitling part of the videos. Using the learnings he had published on his website, in the article: “Generate subtitles for your videos with Whisper’s AI“.
I will implement this idea as soon as I have some time because I think it is brilliant and would simplify many things in terms of subtitles to improve not only accessibility, but the possibility to see our chats in multiple languages.
Already on the contributor day we started to experience the advantage of doing the WC in Athens: The food. Without a doubt, the best food I have enjoyed at these events.
We ended the day with the traditional closing showing the progress at all tables and a very positive feeling, as always happens in the largest CD in terms of people and work tables.
The night before, the Codeable platform hosts a dinner for its team members. Carlos and Jorge invited me to participate. Just outside the center of Athens, on the beach, an incredible place and I refer to the photos to see the quality of the event.
Beach, good food, cocktails, music. What else do we need? In this same place, we celebrated in the CD day the dinner for the organization, speakers, sponsors and volunteers, so we enjoyed it twice as much.
Talks, workshops, round table discussions
I was not able to attend talks, as usual, I will watch them when we start uploading to WP TV. In addition, I was very focused on the Community Booth which is the space dedicated to the community within the event.
We had prepared several interesting things:
- A set of postcards that favored networking by having to exchange the 4 cards you received with your merchandising bag.
- In addition to the trading cards, a set of trivia-type questions would be made so that you could receive the other four models.
- We had a map with stickers so that people could put the exact spot where they were coming from. This was undoubtedly the simplest game, but the one that generated the most interaction.
- The map and of course, all the photocall stuff.
I was pleased. If I repeat in the same team, I would suggest to make a change and give more prominence to the map that generated much more interaction than the rest of the initiatives.
For me, in this new role that goes beyond assistant, I have focused a lot on the community booth itself, a lot of hall track, meetings for example with David Perez and Pascal Casier to discuss details of how to improve the WPTV team.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank David. Your drive is driving me to do new things at WP TV and you have some lovely ideas of things we can do to improve that equipment. As soon as our Pontevedra WC is over, I will devote more time to it.
Visiting sponsors, talking to many, many people. It would be impossible to name them all. Here is a list (if I didn’t name you elsewhere in the post). If I get lost, write it in the comments, and I’ll create your link for you:
Aurora Koeffer, Marta, Nahuai and Celi, Weiko, Fran, Jesús Yesares, Javier Casares, Alejandro Gil, Angel, Jorge Casal, Ximena, Guido, Nora, Monica, Svetlana (Sveta), Gerardo, Javier Salinas, Carlota Galván, Paulo, Yordan, Álvaro, Javi Guembe, Gustavo, Pedro Crespo, Amadeu, Benjamin Gosset, Ruth (from the USA!) and many more.
I would like to highlight the talk by Ana Cirujano, one of the first Spaniards who dared to give a talk at WCEU, who repeated the experience but talked about how to improve communication and feedback with the client.
I was looking forward to see the workshop of Pedro Crespo, developer friend and partner of Mowomo, Javier Salinas, who is working on a very interesting educational metaverse project. Fellyph Cintra, a friend who always gives good CSS talks.
I was very well spoken about the talk of: Tycho de Valk, son of Marieke and Joost (Yoast) talking about the new generations in WordPress, he says it with propriety, we are talking about a 16 year old kid. And at that age, he already has 3 years of experience as a WordPress developer. 🤯
I recommend you take a look at the program and soon all the videos will be available. The workshops are one of the jewels of the WCEU, and although watching on video is not the same as attending and participating, at least the work is documented.
Athens, tourism and experiences
We took the opportunity to take almost a week off, arrive before the event, enjoy seeing some sites, Athens has plenty of places to enjoy.
The Acropolis, the Parthenon, its neighborhoods, squares, terraces full of plants, its aromas and flavors.
On Thursday we celebrated the traditional dinner for volunteers, organizers and sponsors. As I told you before, facing the sea, a paradisiacal site that explains why Athens has had this magnetism throughout its history.
The next day, it was time for sponsor parties. Each sponsor, or group of sponsors, holds social parties. I went to Siteground. Incredible.
A wonderful terrace to enjoy the sunset overlooking the Parthenon and the Acropolis, an architectural jewel built between 447 and 432 B.C. Impressive.
Great food, fantastic music and the night just livened up on its own. I will not be able to tell more details about it. What happened in Athens, stays in Athens 😉
Saturday is the last day, for me, it’s been 4 days of partying, meeting people, and having a lot of fun in the process. I’m honest, it’s a very different experience as an organizer. Will I repeat? I have already sent the form. I hope to be chosen again.
Matt and his interventions arouse passions. It’s great to see him answering questions, reflecting with Matias on the future of WordPress, the Playground initiative and the fascinating evolution of Gutenberg.
I know it raises controversial ideas, but for me the block editor is fantastic. I love it and use it every day, so seeing things brewing in the future is always exhilarating.
Final farewell with the 3 leading organizers, recounting data and statistics of the event:
- 2545 attendees from 94 countries
- 658 contributors and 23 work teams
- 102 speakers from 29 countries
And in the midst of the majesty of the auditorium, they make us leave to thank the organizers. We have not done anything, we have only followed our vocation, which is to grow this project that we love so much.
It takes so much from us, but it brings so much to us, it’s worth every second, every meeting, every box you have to carry. It is worth everything because you live those irreplaceable experiences and emotions.
And then comes one of the most awaited moments, announcing the new lead organizers, and although I admit I already knew it, I was deeply moved.
My great friend Juan Hernando, who was responsible for my entry into this world, would be one of the leading organizers for the future edition in Turin (Torino), Italy. Together with Wendie Huis in t Veld and Takis Bouyouris.
Watching the video and knowing that Juan would be there with such an important role I couldn’t help but get excited. I find his evolution super brave and incredible.
Juan for me is synonymous with community, he is a born leader who knows how to inspire all the people who collaborate with him, so I am sure he will do an exceptional job.
The farewell party, as usual, was emotional and fun. Hugging many people that you are very fond of and that you only see on these occasions. The Spanish community is very present.
I want to thank the team for this nice tribute to the organizers and volunteers who created a mural with our names. I was very surprised:
Being able to stay a couple of days in Athens was something I enjoyed because I can bid a fond farewell to this beautiful city that has given me so much these days.
It also allowed me to write this post at certain times. Let’s remember that the essence and birth of WP is in the blogs, and as our good friend Weiko told us between beers in a square in Athens, the content, the blogs, are the essence of the internet in many aspects.
Let’s not forget the importance of writing our reviews of what we see, feel, enjoy. Let’s show what we know and it is the best tribute we can give to our beloved content manager.
Thank you WordCamp Europe for another spectacular edition. See you in Torino in 2024. Long live and prosper WordPress!