My first experience as an international speaker

Colombia 4.0 – Digital Content Summit

Colombia 4.0 is one of the largest digital content summits in Latin American.  It is organized by the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology in Colombia and addresses the transformation of the digital economy.

This year there were 246 speakers from 26 different countries, and hey guess what! I was one of those little conferencistas from Canada 🙂

The conference discusses the latest trends through several tracks – animation, video games, web, mobile development, music, digital media, digital advertising, monetization, and entrepreneurship.

I would get to speak as part of the Mobile track at the conference (on the 21st, at 11:30am :), check out the schedule to your left). I would be speaking about working in a distributed team and share my experience of ‘best practices’. I probably spent countless hours the week before trying to make the content as practical and beneficial as I could. In my mind, it needed to be perfect.

I arrived not really knowing what to expect. I’m not what you think of when you hear tech. I had built up in my mind this idea that if it was anything less than perfect, I wouldn’t be taken seriously.

Is what I have to say good enough? Is there any value in what I am saying? Will they think I know what I am talking about? I feel like an imposter. I’m just one tiny person, how can I  help attendees work better in their different styles of teams. 

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The incredible view from my hotel room.

The build-up

Arriving in Colombia I felt a bit uneasy because I am not fluent in the language spoken. The first day was tough. I was thinking in English and French, not Spanish. I could barely utter two words, let alone hold a decent conversation. The first night I spent a good 20 minutes preparing my phone conversation to room service (also several over-dramatic messages to friends that I had gotten in over my head). I was so nervous. Knees weak, arms are heavy. Literally.

That night I received a knock on my door.

Two women welcomed me and handed me my badge and some goodies. I starred at that badge for a good few minutes. This was real. This was really happening. Even now, I’m not sure what I felt. I was beyond excited, but I think I could feel my stomach turning. I needed to lie down.

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Before I knew it, I was waking up to the first day of the conference. Today was the day. I didn’t feel so nervous anymore. Maybe conquering ordering room service had given me some incredible confidence?

I had some time to kill in the morning so I headed over to the animation track to see Ian Gooding, the production designer for Moana.  You’ve also seen his work (art, animation, visual effects) in popular Disney films like Wreck-It Ralph, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan, Chicken Little, and many others. Such impressive work and beautiful presentation! Teaching us the beauty behind the films we see today and showing us the beautiful, caring people that know that the little details matter.

I’m not sure if it was my appreciation for his work (and to find appreciation in my own work) or my lack of sleep… or maybe just my sudden realization that I’m a pretty little badass myself, but I just told myself – you gotta rock this Kim. You’re clearly here for a reason.

The experience

 

I got up on that stage and I did just that. I rocked it. Despite some technical difficulties of having the projector slides be separate from my laptop so I had to keep going back and forth when switching slides, it went well! And yes, that’s tiny me in the photo above. Yup, I’m there. The one behind the podium. Look at all those people! I got to share my experience and hopefully help them work better in their teams 🙂

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There, you can see me better here. Unfortunately, I don’t think my talk was recorded. But I guess that just means I’ll have to give it again at another place and time :).

Time to relax and explore a little!

 

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I had two days to rest a bit and take in the rest of the conference. On the last day, it was on to workshop time! I had the great opportunity to give a workshop on using Git & GitHub for beginners. At first, I was a bit worried. I was very tired from the first three days of the conference. I was also concerned not many people would show up, as it was the last day. Again, the thoughts crept into my head. Is what I have to say good enough? Is there any value in what I am saying? Will they think I know what I am talking about? Will it be too slow and boring? Will it not be clear enough?  What if…

Well… those thoughts could kick it hard. Wrong, again! People were following. They were nodding. They were smiling. I was doing it.

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At last! The room was packed. What an honor 🙂

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That’s me showing a few terminal commands for Git – workshop.

The people

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When I look back, I realize what a huge waste of time it was to worry so much. Of course I knew worrying in the first place was useless, but afterwards, it became that much more evident with all the positive feedback.

After my workshop, I got to interact with many people and each one warmed my heart. In the photo above, there’s me and Alberto. I worked with him and his associate on how to upload a photo to their Pull Request submission. I got to help Diego, a master student, who was having trouble uploading his final project to GitHub. His story will stick with me for a long time. A great spirit for computer engineering and was building a 3D printer, which he had been working on it for the past few years.

There are many other stories and amazing people I got to connect with. I will end with one final story that will also stick with me. Andres created http://www.holamundo.co/, translates to Hello World 🙃, where he helps teach programming and has these ‘cheat sheets’ folks can download and use for free (see video here of how to print this cool pocket booklet to use as a programming class tool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqyXXdonm4I). You can find the GitHub repo here holamundo.co. He’s also on YouTube with an educational channel related to programming, graphic design, web design and application development in general. “The best way to learn is to teach.”

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And look at these awesome stickers he designed and shared with me!!😍

I am so glad that this got to be one of my first real speaking experiences. I will never forget it and the amazing people I met and the kind words they shared with me.

Huge thanks to Colombia, to the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, to Ana Albir, to Brendan Needs, and to John Britton for making this opportunity happen. See you next time, Col4.0!

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