This year’s Mozilla Festival is probably one of the best events I’ve ever attended as a Mozillian and as Rep. Maybe I feel this way because I’ve really been yawning to attend Mozfest since the first one was held three years ago in Barcelona. Also being the biggest Webmaker event under Mozilla, me being part of it was just a dream come true, no doubt about that. I’d had of stories from the previous Mozfests and I’d really feel sorry for myself that I hadn’t attended and taken part in the past events. In 2012 we came close to having one of us (Mozilla Kenya) attend the 2nd Mozilla Festival but he couldn’t due to visa denial at the British embassy.
Well preparing for this year’s event wasn’t all that smooth for us here in Kenya. And as usual visa processing is the hardest thing ever for a rep, especially when you are planning to attend an event hosted in a first world country and you are applying for your visa from any of the developing nations, trust me, it isn’t a nice experience, not even for one second !
Two of us (Hezron and I) were invited through the Mozilla Reps program to attend this year’s event but like I said, Visa… visa… issues! Hezron was not lucky enough to attend the event as his visa was denied and to my surprise, they couldn’t trace the credibility of his invitation letter despite the fact that my invitation letter was similar to his, let alone both of them having been signed by Michelle Thorne!
But then at least I was lucky to get the chance to attend this year’s event (I’m pausing to smile, just to reminisce on how happy I was when I saw the visa stamp on my passport). I remember I’d actually lost hope when Hezron’s was denied and I even went to collect my passport just a few hour before the embassy closed for the day only get such the big surprise! But I learned quite a lot from this experience with one of the strictest embassies, the British embassy!
My flight was scheduled on the same date I collected my visa and I had to rush back home, throw everything that I needed into my bag and start my journey to the airport which is a bit far from where I live with my family. I landed in Heathrow the next morning after 8 hours in the air, not so tiring but quite a long one as well. I was lucky enough to meet two other reps from India (Sayak and Soumya) who had attended the last Mozfest and so I had nothing to worry about getting lost when connecting the trains to the Hotel, yay!
I spent most of day one just walking around London with fellow Reps, that’s after checking into our rooms. The opening session would be that evening when we would all gather for dinner with all the other reps, most of whom were still on their way coming. We strolled around taking photos and catching up with on what each one of us had been up to in their home countries and obviously Mozilla Summit which was held two weeks ago dominated most of our stories. After around four hours walk around London, we went back to the hotel to rest a bit and prepare for dinner later on.
The dinner that night was full of excitement. Meeting people whom you met probably two years back and now here you are together again, nothing feels sweeter than this. I was way too excited myself and I made sure I spoke to each and every Rep who made it and even other Mozillians whom we’ve talked before and even those whom we haven’t met before. This is usually my most favorite parts of any Mozilla events, meeting new faces and hearing from different people, how things are wherever they come from, what they do as Mozillians and even what they do as individuals aside from contributing to Mozilla, I get to learn a lot from people during such moments. Day one ended with briefings on what the program was going to be like for the next day and what to expect for the rest of the days at Mozfest 2013.
Day two started quite early with breakfast at 8am and then we’d proceed to Ravensbourne college by 9am. This was definitely going to be quite a busy day as we were to use it to lay foundation for the coming two days of the festival. So it all begun with introductions on what to expect from there henceforth. Keynotes from the main hosts and organizers followed. We also got to hear from the space wranglers and session hosts just as a buildup and for us to know where each and every session was going to be conducted.
What followed next was setting-up for session hosts. Where everyone who had volunteered to host a session was introduced to their hacking area and they’d setup their space in wait for the next two days. I was involved in two booths myself, the Students Ambassadors stand and the Mozilla Reps corner as well! With the intros done, we all moved downstairs, where we had the showcase stands. We had a lot of amazing makes from different makers from all over the world. The most memorable one for me was the a creation by Mozilla Japan which was able to transmit the same vibration effect one feels on a plastic can when marbles are shaken in it on a different can connected to the former with a string! This was just off the hook, amazing indeed! There were lots of amazing makes of course, lots of them!
The second day at Mozfest was a big day! It was the first open day for the public to participate. And I can bet everyone looked forward to it. I couldn’t help wait to take part on the maker party and learn from it. We spent the better part of day two attending different sessions up and down the college premises. All of them interesting and tantalizing where you’d wish to attend some sessions but unable because their timings collided with others which were more interesting. But yes, great sessions they all were!
And finally the maker party was here that afternoon. The room was completely electrified with the numerous activities going on in every corner. Everyone seemed to smile from ear to ear enjoying the fun moments. I never expected such a big maker party, completely off the hook. And the number of volunteers who’d come from all over the world just to share their knowledge with everyone was just amazing. I’m literally smiling while writing about the maker party. I wonder how much time was used in planning for it. Thumbs up for Chris and his Hive team! Couldn’t be any better if you ask me; I still stand amazed a month later!
Day three at Mozfest wasn’t as action packed compared to day two. I spent most of it attending sessions revolving around Webmaking, for the better part of the day. That afternoon we ganged up with a few more Reps and wen to tour the famous London Bridge and the Tower Bridge as well.
I must say that I learnt so much from Mozfest, first as a rep and even more importantly as a Webmaker! I’m sure our Webmaking initiatives here in Kenya as a community will now be better from now on. I’ve gained quite a lot from other webmakers and creators from different countries and I feel so inspired!
I’m proud to be a Mozillian!