#jselfie, #joomler, and #joomlaheart - My JWC Experience

Posted by Michael Babker on

So, I have a confession to make. When I left my house last week to head to Cancun, I wasn't sure how I would feel about the trip or being at the Joomla! World Conference for many reasons. My nerves were running on high, I was in a mild panic struggling to write one of my presentations, and just all in all I just was not comfortable with what was in front of me. Luckily, most of those doubts and nerves were silenced within hours and I can say that this event was hands down my absolute favorite of the many I've attended in the last few years.


I'm experiencing a tranquility I haven't felt since the last time I stood on Siesta Key.

— Michael Babker (@mbabker) November 5, 2014

For those unaware, I'm from Sarasota, Florida, which is home to one of the world's top rated beaches, Siesta Key. I grew up spending a lot of time there and have always found that beach, and just being near water in general, to be the most relaxing place I can find anywhere. I haven't been beach side in years, so when I stood on the beach for the first time after arriving, I found it overwhelming at first. I was taken in a rush and my mind went from being in overdrive to a screeching halt; in that moment, I felt the most tranquil and relaxed that I had felt in a rather long time. That extended moment helped me to find myself and find my comfort in being at the event.


Current status: Documenting "What the $&(! does Michael do!?" #TransitionPlan

— Michael Babker (@mbabker) November 5, 2014

With less than two weeks before I step down, something I'm used to is needing a transition plan to ensure things can happen even without me. Trying to make a list of everything I'm involved with seems like an impossible task, but it's slowly coming together. With any luck, I'll set the Production Leadership Team up for success in ensuring they can take over responsibilites that I've been managing myself and will be handing over when I step down at the end of the month.


Group Picture

Something I had heard from someone at their first Joomla event was that they didn't expect people to be as relaxed as they were based on their online personas. In truth, at least for me, there was a strong sense of camaraderie, belonging, and working together amongst the conference's attendees. Even given recent tensions between different people. Being able to experience that camaraderie, and use it to help me while in a panicked state, calmed most of the nerves that I had in the days before the event.


Wow half the audience is native Spanish speakers #jwc14

— Joomla Sydney - Pete (@astroboysoup) November 7, 2014

Joomla has a rather unique and diverse community, and this year, the world conference was hosted in Mexico and embraced that diversity in a new way. Keynote sessions had feedback given in both English and Spanish, an entire track was dedicated to the Spanish speaking attendees, and one of the Latin American attendees gave their first presentation in English during the event. I even attended one of the Spanish track sessions and learned something new from Guillermo. Overall, this aspect of the conference created an even better experience for all attendees


A renewed sense of community was found I think during the event. We found a name for our community members, started a fun activity, shared our heart with one another, and got a glimpse about how Joomlers make an impact on the open source community. We were ignited with the passion of several community members and we had some fun at the expense of our friends. I truthfully can't think of a bad moment during the event which only proves that the nerves and panic I was experiencing before were for nothing.


This weekend has proven one thing for me. It isn't easy to step down with a community like that which I'm surrounded by. #jwc14 #jfamily

— Michael Babker (@mbabker) November 9, 2014

Something I didn't expect to find during the event was closure, in personal matters and my contributions to Joomla as a leadership team member for the last two years. A few weeks ago, I felt like I was stepping away from the Production Leadership Team and doing so on a sour note; stepping away from something I had enjoyed and given more of myself to than I ever should have and walking away with only ill feelings because of the circumstances at the time. That isn't the case now. Throughout my time in Cancun, I was reminded what has made me give 200% of myself to Joomla for the last four years. I reminded about the impact I've made and how others have rallied behind that to continue making Joomla Rock. I made new friends and learned how I can make myself a better person. I'm leaving at the end of the month with all of the ill feelings and sour thoughts washed away, and it's thanks to being surrounded by the positive energy that was the world conference.


#joomlers never say goodbye, we always say see you later #joomla #jpositive #jwc14

— Roland Dalmulder (@rdalmulder) November 10, 2014

Last year, the strongest thing that anyone said to me was "it's never goodbye, only so long for now", and it's stuck with me since. The word never even crossed my mind this year. I'm not saying goodbye, I'm only stepping out of the way to take care of myself and allow others to step up and lead. There were a lot of folks whose hands I didn't shake or share a hug with before leaving Cancun, that just means it'll have to be made up for the next time our paths cross.