This is an unfinished draft of a blog post I wrote at the end of my study abroad semester in Dubrovnik, Croatia. It was originally written in May or June 2017. It captures some of the perspective and feeling as my semester abroad finished. As I explain in my 2017 year in review, this was a profound experience and exposed me to a part of the world unlike my own, yet it felt like a home by the end.
Unfortunately, as I write later in this blog post, the “window of inspiration” to finish this draft has closed. So I figured it better to publish it as-is than to let it waste.
I can’t help but feel this period in history is significant, if only for what is yet to come of this global political climate. Each day I read the news, a mix of positive and negative connotations blurs through my subconscious: paragraphs of words about people far away, words about events that happened when I was asleep. Heavy paragraphs and words that seem void of emotion, but carry all the weight of a freight train. These articles, paragraphs, and collection of words are the paint of perspective, and as much as they are overwhelming, they are also equally so liberating.
Across this spectrum of bold headlines and addicting scrolling, I began to wonder about identity. What determines how we choose to identify where we originate from? What makes us decide to disassociate from our birthplace? What parts of our culture make us proud and content and what parts are like fresh wounds withheld from time and space needed to heal? I started to wonder about my own identity and what it means to me to be defined as an American.
One of the most unusual but wonderful experiences happened to me on a return trip from Europe to the United States.
A series of heavy noreasters hit the US east coast over the last couple weeks. This coincided with my travel dates back to Rochester, NY. While we didn’t have flooding, we had a lot of snow. A lot of snow means canceled flights.
As I made my way through border control in Dublin, Ireland on March 7, I discovered my connection to New York City would likely be canceled. A meander from baggage claim to the check-in desk confirmed this. Fortunately, Aer Lingus had no issue putting me up in a hotel overnight with dinner and breakfast to catch the next flight to New York the next day.
While waiting in airport queues, a friend happened to retweet a local event happening in Dublin the next day.
I can’t remember how writing an annual reflection became a tradition, but after writing them for the last two years, it is now a habit. Every time I look back on all that the last year brought into my life, it is surreal. Many things that happened, I could never have expected one or two years ago. And perhaps now, I see that life is defined by the unexpected moments: the things that surprise us, warm our hearts, sadden us, and remind us of our humanity. Thus, I present my year in review of 2017.
The Rochester Mini Maker Faire is an annual event at the Joseph A. Floreano Riverside Convention Center in Rochester, NY. Each year, makers, creators, artists, and more from all over upstate New York and beyond show their crafts and creations to the community. Open source software and hardware are popular items at the Rochester Mini Maker Faire, with countless Raspberry Pis, Arduino boards, and open source projects powering many electronic projects.
The past few months have brought many changes for me. I traveled throughout Europe to experience some of the open source conferences and communities across the continent. Along the way, I met incredible people with powerful stories about their own communities. However, there is one community that I knew about before I came to Europe. The Open Labs Hackerspace in Tirana, Albania is a special community that I was fortunate enough to discover and meet. Together, they have helped set in motion the open source way in their own city.
Team picture of the Diversity Team members (left to right: Brian Exelbierd, Amita Sharma, Radka Janek, Jona Azizaj, Bhagyashree Padalkar, Justin W. Flory)
The Fedora Diversity FAD (a.k.a. Fedora Activity Day, or a sprint) took place during the weekend of DevConf, 27-29 January. The original planning for this FAD started in August 2016, after the Flock 2016 conference. At Flock, the Diversity Team held a panel with open discussion about diversity and inclusion efforts in Fedora. Based on the feedback received during and after the panel, it was a priority for us to continue working on the objectives we had established before Flock. For the FAD, a majority of the Fedora Diversity Team was present along with a few others.
We made significant progress in accomplishing our larger objectives and to contribute to the Fedora Project mission and goals. The primary objectives we established for our FAD were completing plans for the demographic survey, building a campaign based on those results, and analyzing our Code of Conduct to find ways to better impact the community. This report covers each of these objectives, what we accomplished, and what we plan to do next.
Logic model used for preliminary planning and mapping out the activities and impact of the Fedora Diversity FAD
Open source projects are built online and a lot of their community members are placed all over the world. Even though projects have people from around the world, this doesn’t stop ambitious community members to organize open source conferences or events in their own cities. Whether they’re focused generally to open source or for a specific project, you can find a variety of conferences, hackathons, workshops, or meet-ups all over the world. Fedora benefits from having Ambassadors to attend these events to introduce Fedora and spread the word about the community. It’s not uncommon to see Fedora participating in these events, and Linux Weekend 2017 in Tirana, Albania was not an exception.
Jona Azizaj, Fedora Ambassador and Open Labs board member, kicks off Linux Weekend 2017
From March 25-26, 2017 in Tirana, Albania, nearly 130 people attended the first-ever Linux Weekend 2017. Linux Weekend was organized by Open Labs Hackerspace at the Universiteti Politeknik i Tiranës as an introduction to Linux for beginners. Throughout Tirana, universities have a strong focus on Windows or macOS operating systems and little focus is given to Linux. Open Labs community members wanted to organize an event that would promote Linux as an open source alternative and demonstrate some of its benefits over proprietary environments. The event collected representatives from various communities, including Fedora, Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, NextCloud, MusicBrainz, and more.
The local hackerspace in Tirana, Albania might be small, but they make up for size in spirit. During the weekend of 18-19 March 2017, the Open Labs Hackerspace organized the first-ever 48 hour “open source” hackathon focused on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The UN Sustainable Development Goals are seventeen objectives identified by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to build a better world, starting in our own communities. Some of the goals include quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, clean energy, and more. During the course of the hackathon, participants selected a goal, broke into teams, and worked on projects to make real change in their own neighborhoods. In the spirit of open source, all projects are made available under free and open licenses.
Every year, Mojang holds the annual Minecraft convention, MINECON. MINECON is a convention where Minecraft players, software developers, content creators, and others in the Minecraft gaming world come together for a weekend of panels, activities, shows, and most importantly, comradery. I traveled to Anaheim, California to see the SpigotMC team again and help represent the open source cause. The convention was from September 24-25, 2016. This is my second time going to MINECON – last year, I went to London with the team as well.