Evangelising Drupal in a foreign land, am going Camping again!
Drupal Camp Pakistan is in Lahore in less than 10 days! visa done, flights booked, logistics sorted, fired up and ready to GO.
The concept of a roaming Drupal Camp in Pakistan was ideated in England, is organised from Islamabad, has so far had speakers from six different countries and after the 30th of March would have had over 230 attendees over two events.
My involvement has had family, friends and networks in Blighty as well as Middle Earth curiosious.. the question used to be 'Why?' but has of late changed to 'How?.
'The 'Why?' became a time black hole of a question to ask, for it is near impossible to shut me up once I get started on community building, the power of emerging tech in creating opportunities without boundaries, changing the rock, and why not!…. yadi yadi ya and of course nowadays quoting from the incredible Fable of Iggy Bartholomew Mole!
When it comes to the HOW; I am lucky to have a super awesome team of Jedis in Islamabad (Drupal and otherwise!) and to know many Jedi masters from within the global Drupal community to call upon… but there is a lot more detail to it than just using the force! so here's the summary.
First things first! Apart from the volunteered time and resources from Preston University (for the Islamabad Camp) and University of Central Punjab (for the Lahore Camp), the camp organisers (from team Ikonami) and student volunteers, the true credit has to go to the Global Drupal Community as always - without them none of this would have been possible.
Thank y'all for making it possible, not once but twice! and for the upcoming camps too! thank you in advance! and last but not least thank you Mrs Shirazee for letting me go camping in the first half of the easter break when we ought to be heading to Barca for a longer break! you are awesome! but you already know that.Ok before the 'How'… a recap of the 'Why', and I promise to keep it succinct!
Why Drupal Camp Pakistan (specially since I am in Blighty)!?
I am a fan of the platform and the community! its personal. I want to see OS adoption, Open Data, more transparency, efficiencies across the rock not just in Blighty! its responsible. I am an investor in a Drupal Development Centre in Islamabad, it's commercial.
I am a social activist with a charity in Pakistan whose ethos is to nurture peace through prosperity; emerging technologies such as Drupal offer a great opportunity to create jobs in a conflict affected developing economy with a youth bulge and high unemployment amongst the educated and uneducated alike! its spiritual! Told ya' it'l be succinct!
How Drupal Camp Pakistan was organised?
The hardest part was getting the speakers and trainers or so I'd thought! this however turned out to be a simpler task amongst the long list of things to be done! It was simple for the global Drupal Community is awesome at sharing their knowledge and being the cavalry where need be! The real hard part turned out to be securing academic venues and the almost impossible was getting co-organisers involved!
Being an active emerging tech community member convincing peers from the Drupal community has taken a few conversations, it the plain old adage, do unto others as you want others to do unto you, I am active in the community, I give back myself, via my companies and by encouraging my teams do the same; and the community recognises it and reciprocates… its a love fest!
The venue could have been easy had we not agreed on a golden rule; all Drupal Camps in Pakistan under our watch shall be held at Universities with a strong tech and creative background. Whilst the the few locals we did find willing wanted Camps to be held in hotels, tickets with a price tag and the general attitude was 'hotels mean business' and 'academia means... you're not serious'... as a collective the Drupal Jedi council of Pakistan privately reacted with two words to that notion… s*d that!
The premise of our initiative for promoting Drupal and building the local community: spread the knowledge, create jobs, keep the events free to attend; attract students, fresh graduates, people between jobs, prepare Jedis for tomorrow and the years to come, give back, nurture long term prosperity for the community that occupies that part of Middle Earth! peeps are still trying to figure out the catch! keep chasing that tail dawg!
OK, time to roast a few! the allegedly more forward thinking universities in Islamabad and Lahore… did not get Drupal… Drew…what! and worse still did not get how Camps would lead to creating jobs! seriously! we heard responses like yes but Drupal is not big here! Php is so has been!…. well you know what nothing other than proprietary cr*p is big there! plus they missed the point that most of the Pakistani tech sector is export focused! and guess what Drupal is huge in other parts of the rock, and there is a skills shortage for good Drupalers the world over! an opportunity missed! and of course Drupal will be huge there too, once the institutions, the government and the big corps pull their heads out...
Other institutions that apparently got it; we got passed around from person to person, department to department…. felt like a Boris bike! The line was 'what a great idea, I have cc'ed/spoken to my colleague Sum Dood in this email and he shall take it from here…' well you know what he didn't take it anywhere! and our phone calls went unanswered or passed on to another leader of men!
By this time we had knocked on so many doors our knuckles were hurting and our name was getting around, as the guys who want to pitch a Camp of some kind… we do not mind ignorant peeps ridiculing us! our persistence paid of, of the many who thought we were humour in their narrative, actually did us a favour! our name got around and reached those who digressed from the norm and saw the road ahead! For the Islamabad camp that was the IT faculty at Preston University and for the Lahore Camp the IT faculty at the University of Central Punjab.
Having secured the venues getting people through the doors was not a problem, there has been a waiting audience for Camps in both the cities we have encamped in so far, and the enquiries for Drupal Camp Pakistan's arrival to Karachi is becoming overwhelming! Other than the existing Drupalers there has been huge demand from the uninitiated and the plain curious…Then there is the devilish detail that I shall share on my flight back from Drupal Camp Pakistan.
The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators. Edward Gibbon
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