The mirror reflecting myself

There and Back Again – My first week in Community Summit and WCUS 2023: Part 1

This is my first post in English.

“Hi, I’m mimi.” I can’t count how many times I said it in the Community Summit and WCUS 2023.

Of course, almost everyone who I met there did not know me. And if someone who knows me, they only communicated at GitHub or Slack. And I could meet a lot of lovely new people! I want to “story” you about the incredible week for me.

The Community Summit

With colorful hair colors members. Everyone was so nice. I miss you!

“WOOO! Everywhere are the icon’s faces I’m used to seeing on the Make WordPress and the GitHub for several years!”

The Community Summit held two days before WCUS 2023, the 22nd and 23rd, is the event that invites only about 100 people from every WordPress contributor. The main aim is the cross-team discussion, which is too difficult to do on Contributor Day.

I vaguely knew it was an opportunity to talk about something important, but I was happier to see the people I respected and I excited like a child. Everyone was so kind to me, and I could say hello and how I felt thanks to them, even with my poor English. I know they are used to non-native speakers and diverse thinking. But not someone but everyone who I told, it is incredible, right? I could always feel the welcome and their gentle attitudes. They impressed me because I am a freelance and made only a few contributions, so I am nobody for them. Even in Japanese events where I can introduce myself more smoothly, I have never felt that welcoming. Sometimes, I could listen to the Japanese friend’s names in their voices, which made me smile more.

It was so helpful to attend the Community Summit and Contributor Day. If I went only to WCUS 2023’s session days, which participated in so many people, not only could I not say anything to them, I might not have even met them. Thank you, Julia. She is the lead organizer who invited me to the Community Summit. I heard from someone that the Community Summit invites not only well-known committers but also new contributors. 

The sunsets were so beautiful every day. I regretted not bringing my SLR camera.

Regrettably, I didn’t know clearly about the Community Summit and what I should do there. Then, what I could do there was only listen to their talks and the discussions, which were essential things for WordPress and the future. But even it was so difficult for me. Some friendly people told me this was a hard day for even one used to communicate in English and tried to encourage me. And I also could feel everyone might be tired, especially on the second day.

But I might be unable to say anything even if I am a native English speaker. As I basked in their passionate words, I felt I did not have much to offer. That might be because I’m less sincerely involved in WordPress than they are. I was just a guest.

However, I went to all the sessions and listened with a head about being stuck from lack of sleep, travel tiredness, and unfamiliar English. That was the only way I knew how to express my respect. Even with poor hearing skills, what I felt the most about the summit was that multiple people think seriously about WordPress. Of course, I know it has a business side for many people. However, I felt powerful again that many people think the WordPress community is an important place to be and more than just a business.

Actually, I have only one opinion about “Increasing contributor recognition and celebration.” What they discussed there was mainly about improving the experience of those who are now involved as contributors. Then, I hesitated because my opinion was about a much earlier stage of making contributions. I couldn’t say in the end, so I’ll write it here instead.

I think is supposed to play a role in presenting new features of WordPress to new ones who can be a contributor. I recognize that my expectations change when I attend an event as a participant, depending on the design and content of the event’s website. But has yet to be developed in time at all, so we cannot demonstrate the actual value of Block Editor and Block Themes on the site. Then, I want to contribute to the update of first, as a more attractive site will attract new contributors.

“Why just two active contributors for”

I told some people at the Contributor Day, but it only bothered them. Yes, if I have some objections to a OSS, I have the chance to commit it. So I am trying it by myself at first. I will not be able to do great things in the future, but I will do what I can when possible.

Here is the repo:

Would you like to join?

And, I can say only the feeling, so if you want to know more about the Community Summit, you can check it here:

How did I go there?

What I felt was weird and most unique at the WCUS ( not at the Community Summit) was many people wanted to know who sponsored me when I told them I was a freelancer.

In the US, many WordPress contributors are sponsored or hired by the companies. So, They ask very natural questions about which companies I am involved with. Going to the WCUS is too expensive for a freelancer living in Tokyo. 

I recognized they came for their business. It is a good thing because it makes around truly the ecosystem that WordPress and the community have built. But I’m not a business person. I’m just committing to it as a hobby. There wasn’t anything wrong with that, but it felt a little uncomfortable. Perhaps I may have felt like I didn’t belong there.

By the end of the event, I could not express my situation well, but that may have been because I was hesitant about being treated so generously that it was too much for me.

Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship

Yes, I was honored to be selected for the Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship this year. 

This scholarship provides financial assistance so that the recipient can attend WordCamp US, including travel from the recipient’s home city, hotel stay for the duration of the event, and a ticket to WordCamp US.

I applied as Junko recommended. Junko is such a lovely person, a Community Team Reps.

before leave Japan at Haneda. Left Junko

She has always encouraged me and given me great experiences. Then I felt, “OK, if she says so, it must be good.” And I just applied without considering. I was just happy to be able to travel with her if I might be selected.

Even after selecting it, I didn’t recognize how I didn’t realize how much of an honor it was. Everyone met me celebrated it, but I could not reply very well. Finally, in the last two days, I got the perfect phrase, “I’m very lucky.”

The guilt might stem from my passion for WordPress having cooled a bit over the past two years, and I was considering pulling out of the community due to my declining fitness. And I knew more people who should come from Japan than I did. It was uncomfortable to be chosen simply for being a woman. However, this guilt may be why this scholarship is limited to women.

I highly doubt that I did enough to deserve that honor, but I am sure that I was encouraged and motivated by what happened this week. Thank you again, Julia and Junko, for giving me this fantastic opportunity.

OK, I think I have written enough for my first English post, but I have only written part of the “story” yet, so I will continue.