"Hey! There’s going to be a Joomla User Group right here in this neighborhood," my partner Hilda said. "The first meeting is next week. You are going to attend." No way was I going to attend. The whole idea of going there didn’t appeal to me at all. So I said: "Nah, I don’t know. This is for people who know much more about Joomla than I do. Not for me."
She insisted: "You are going. These people like to work with Joomla. You like to work with Joomla. So that is what you have in common, and the rest will follow. I’ll go with you if you find it difficult to go on your own." And so we went, and it turned out to be a wonderful group of people with different backgrounds and different skill levels, all eager to learn and share knowledge.
Three months later I was one of the organizers of this JUG, and remained so for a couple of years. During those years, whenever I learned something interesting or discovered a useful extension while creating websites for clients, I shared my knowledge through a presentation at our JUG. Meanwhile I started touring the country to give talks at other JUGs as well. I joined the Dutch JoomlaDays team, and a while after that I was one of the founders of Joostock, a Dutch Joomla Unconference. I was happy and comfortable doing all these things in our very small, cozy country.
And then, one day, Hilda got a mysterious Facebook message with a link, pointing to something called Forum for the Future that was to take place somewhere in Spain, mid January 2020 (yes people, pre-pandemic). Say what? Something international? In Spain? "We are totally going," I said (notice the difference?). And we went. Forum for the Future turned out to be people from all over the world discussing the future of Joomla (we have written about this in previous issues of the JCM). To be completely honest: when I accepted the invitation, I knew I would be able to contribute there and then, but I was pretty sure I didn’t want to have anything to do with the international Joomla community after FftF. Not on a formal basis anyway. I just couldn’t see how I could be of use for Joomla.
But then I figured: hey, I can write (in my previous career I was a journalist, editor and writer). And I like Joomla (yes. Still do). So what if I could write about Joomla? As it happens, after Forum for the Future the Joomla Community Magazine, which had gone quiet for a while, was being re-ignited by two great people I had met in Spain. And all of a sudden, joining this international thing was a lot less scary than I had imagined. It had turned into a chance to help Joomla forward, together with the new JFriends I had already made.
This was over two years ago, and I’m still very pleased with the decision to start working for JCM. I get to meet (OK online but still) Joomlers from all over the globe and interview them, or help them write awesome articles. Everyone I meet is nice, or at least polite :). Actually, it’s a bit bigger than when I first joined the JUG, but apart from that - wait. Isn’t there any difference between volunteering on a national and an international level?
You bet there is. Starting with – drumroll please – time zones. If your team has members from all over the globe, scheduling meetings is the mother of all challenges. In the JCM team, for this reason we decided to have chat meetings instead of voice meetings; members unable to attend can read back later.
Second in line: language. Everyone has their own English, and that goes for the people who have English as their mother tongue as well as for the rest of us. Even Australians, Americans, Canadians, Brits all use different wordings and build their sentences in different ways. Luckily we’re all nice (see above) so language barriers are solved quickly. (By the way, it took me a while to discover we all laugh in different ways when in chat. Examples? Dutch typed laugh: hahaha. Spanish: jajaja. Italian: ahahah)
I have no doubt there are other differences. Cultural differences, for instance. Personally, I haven’t experienced those yet, but I’m sure others have. But overall, we’re a bunch of people working on pretty much the same goals, and where we are doesn’t play a big part in it: I can work with you if you live in the same street and I can work with you if you live on another continent.
So the bottom line is actually the same as when I first joined the JUG: these people like to work with Joomla. I like to work with Joomla. That’s what we have in common, and the rest will follow.