a.k.a. my first EuroPython!

17-23 July 2023

We were in Porto in September 2022 when EuroPython started being a ever present theme. The location for the 2023 event had yet to be decided. Some talks were happening… not sure - I did not really engage. I just wanted to experience Porto with VB (who happens to be an organiser). EuroPython was not my business… until it became it. As I saw more of it, I could not help but being amazed and wanting to be part of it.

Fast forward a few months and “July is EuroPython!”. No chance I was going to miss it.

Fast forward another few months and I decided to apply to be an on-site volunteer. Of course, not before spending weeks procrastinating on filling the form because “Maybe I don’t belong…”. I had only been to one Python conference before, I was not an expert programmer, and my background was different from that of the faceless volunteers I had created in my head. Well… in July I was in Prague and I knew that my worries were nonsense.

View from the conference venue

View from the conference venue

EuroPython 2023 was a 1-week long event, with over 1.000 participants from all over Europe (and beyond!). Buying a ticket on the website and showing up is easy, but how the hell does such an event get put together? As an on-site volunteer, I was able to see behind the scenes of how a conference of this scale gets organised. It is fascinating to me! And I am looking forward to discovering more nuances in the years ahead, which I inevitably missed as a first-timer.

The behind-the-scenes work is truly impressive. The organisers put so much work and dedication into EuroPython in the months before it happens; on top of that, they spend the conference week making sure everything runs smoothly and that speakers, sponsors, volunteers and attendees have the best possible experience, more often than not missing all the talks. As a on-site volunteer, I got a chance to give my contribution.

The volunteering slots were already pre-defined, so all I had to do before the conference was to put my name down for the ones I wanted to take. One of the tasks for volunteers was room management = be in the room during a talk and make sure everything is in place so that the talk runs smoothly. “Great! I can be room manager for the talks I wanted to watch anyway!”

The logic is sound, but - me being me - I opened the volunteers schedule 2-3 days after it had been posted, so all the spots for the most interesting talks were taken 🥲 …we live and learn…

Still, I had a great time being room manager, as it lead me to watch very interesting talks that I probably would not have watched otherwise. I stood or sat at the back, wearing my yellow t-shirt, listening to the talk, whilst keeping an eye out for any problems. Now I know that I am excelent at making sure doors are open when they should be open, and closed when they should be closed 👮

Aside from that, I spent quite a lot of time at or around the registration desk. It was nice to hang out there, and I ended up being around way more than for the volunteering slots I had booked. Struggling to resume after the many interruptions, I had some of the best chats with other volunteers there. People would come up to us and ask to collect their badge, their blue conference t-shirt, or to get their badge fixed. Some just wanted to have a chat. Some wanted to borrow something. Some were speaker who were due to have a talk soon and were in distress because of an issue or the other. One speaker’s laptop had stopped working, another didn’t have the right adapter, another had forgot their laptop (how?). Whilst I am half sure I misunderstood the latter, it was a pleasure to help calm them down and - one step at a time - get the situation sorted.

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