Reps Training – Athens, Greece

Joseph Bosire


The much awaited Reps Training in Athens finally came and we all focussed on making sure everything we (Hezron, Alex and I (Cliff)) needed was in place a head of our visit to the Greek embassy for our visas and after a week of waiting for the embassy to process our travel visas, two of us, Hezron and I were lucky to be granted our visas, Alex had a tough luck getting his, the Greek embassy siting new rules by EU blocking foreign students without employment from travelling to any of the schengen countries, that was really tough for him as he’d put in a lot of effort and time in arranging for our travel.

The D-day was finally here, the 1st of March, we were all set for our trip to Athens that early morning. And after 5 hours on board a turkish airliner, we arrived at Istanbul around midday on transit to Atina (Athens) and while here at the airport in Istanbul we met San James and Lawrence from Uganda whom we were coincedentally to take the same flight with them to Athens. Our flight from Istanbul to Athenstook approximately 2hrs or less… And we finally arrived at the Atina International Airport, the chilly breeze, the mountainous view from a far, everything quite different and interesting.
Here again we met a couple of Mozillians waiting for us and it was here that we finally met Michelle Thorne, that was really great for us! We the took the train to ‘Monastiraki’, where our hotel was located, quite far from the airport, say a 45 minutes ride.

On our first day in Athens we didn’t do much, just meeting fellow Mozillians who had already arrived and those who were still arriving. We checked in our hotel room and rested after the  long day of travelling. We then met 4 hours later for our first dinner, with almost all the Reps attending the training having arrived.

On our 2nd day after breakfast, we all gathered at the Monastiraki Square for briefings on the day’s schedule. We went to ‘Technopolis’ where  we would be working from for the rest of training period. Hive Athens were also to host a training session at the same venue the following day and it was such an awesome learning experience seeing how youths were organized and helping in setting up the hackspace making sure everything would workout as they should. I was also amazed by the number of volunteering youths had come to assist Hive Athens in planning for the event.

We spent a better part of the 2nd day at the Technopolis mainly farmiliarising with the venue for most the activities we’d engage in. Meeting fellow Reps whom we’d not met since their arrival as some of us arrived a bit late the previous night from their various countries. We also had a chance to visit the main whole where we’d have the Reps training sessions hosted, such a beautiful venue with a lot of history behind it, dating back to the 1920s, maybe even beyond that!

The Hive Athens hackathon event was quite a remarkable one. One thing that really amazed me was the level of organization shown by the organizers. I got a chance of speeking to one of the volunteer planners for event and he told me that the key to having such a big number of volunteers willing to help in hosting such events is to first let them own the event, doing it out of the usual and making it less formal and ensuring it’s full of fun. And true to this, the event commenced with some sort of a randomn volley ball, where everyone played from anywhere so long as the ball didn’t touch the ground and people would really cheer if someone bent over backwards just to save the ball from touching the ground. This was really fun if you ask me. I remember at times I’d be carried away when the game became more interesting and I’d find myself watching as the youths played from my camera and you’d think that I was taking a lot of photos, well that’s how fun it was. That was really an awesome ice breaker for a hackathon like this, a great way kickstart!

I also noticed how smoothly the whole event was run. Want to know why? Well, it’s pretty simple. Every table had something different to teach or let me make it sound more webmaker like, each table had a different hactivity and well equiped with enough facilitators who were there to ensure everyone read from the same page and that no one was left behind in the learning process. Having enough facilitators was key to this event.

That following week was the most important bit for the Reps training, the Hive event was a good eye opener on how to hold a successfull webmaker event. The training session kicked off with us identifying the common problems we experience when we host local events in our various countries and wrote them on sticky notepads. We later on grouped similar problems and it was amazing how we all experienced similar problems while hosting events but maybe just on different levels. After all these we all gathered to discuss the possible solutions to some of the problems we do face while hosting events. Quite an interesting session hosted by Gardner and Michelle Thorne.

Also worth remembering was practical Reps event we hosted at the British Council. The main aim for this was to put into action all that we’d learnt in the past few days. This seemed like a big challenge for us, teachings kids and teenagers from a totally different culture. The whole session was fucussed on the popcorn maker. And contrary to fears of having a hard time with the teenegers, we all enjoyed teaching the kids how to remix videos using the popcorn maker tool. This was practically the last important session we had in Athens.