I first attended a Mozilla All-hands workweek in 2014 when it happened in Portland. I attended as part of the newly-formed FSA E-board who has been working so hard during the past months in revamping the program led by the amazing Community Manager that we had. FSA is the first (and so far the only) area at Mozilla that I have been a core contributor of in a global level, so I was so excited to meet the people I have been working so closely for the first time. I led the revamp of the Firefox Clubs and I take pride on the sleepless nights I spent working on the new process and training materials. I was ready to rock in Portland.
But it was the first workweek I attended. Less idealism and more serious business, so for the first time ever I was so stressed in a Mozilla event. Each day I had been learning what was really happening inside the organization, mostly cool stuff but sadly, it isn’t the case for the program I am involved with. Portland weather continued to be gloomy and the clouds were getting heavier as I am getting filled with confusion and doubt. It was my first time to be upset about and started questioning how well are we really doing in taking care of volunteers in Mozilla.
Now, what happened? Simple. Apparently there is a difference on how we value this program between us, the volunteer team running it and the team managing it. We all went to Portland with a goal to think about how we can improve the experience of Mozilla’s young volunteers but too bad, we are apparently all about numbers. Indeed I am aware we contribute to that, but I expected they see us beyond. These people we work so hard for are just valued for the numbers they bring. This isn’t even close to what I expected from all the things we have been working on since the revamp. Indeed, reality sucks.
So in this post I had an idea to document what we are doing at the FSA program to engage Mozilla’s young people.
Last term (2014-15) I was part of the pioneer FSA Eboard whose focus was on revolutionizing the program. I handled Club Development and that was honestly one of the best things that I have done for Mozilla so far. Now, I am continuing my work on supporting the program by digging deeper from developing Firefox Clubs to focusing on the ambassadors themselves. Formally, the name of my position would be Ambassador Impact Lead. I am grateful to be serving another term with the eboard with the amazing #FSADREAMTEAM!
Compared to my role last term where I set-up a structure and a system to facilitate club formations, my work for Ambassador Impact would be very similar to doing a research, where I continuously find ways to understand the FSA population and target market to develop the needed support and resources for the ambassadors.
As it is a trending topic at my Mozilla channels lately and with the Whistler Workweek buzzing with ‘going into space’, I thought it is just so timely to express my thoughts on participation. Participation-wise, here’s what I think we should really put a spotlight on: our young contributors. Okay I may be biased because I am with the Firefox Student Ambassadors team (LOL), but I’ve been actively involved with it for a reason. I believe that helping our young contributors grow with Mozilla is a way of investing on the organization’s future. I strongly believe that taking actions now to engage and develop them as the next leaders is a way of securing the opportunities that may come up in the future.
Empowering the youth as they are obviously ‘the world’s future’ may sound cliche, but I think by this time generations have proven that indeed, to have a more proactive and involved citizens you must nurture them when they’re young, during the time that they are still a sponge absorbing everything and still forming their own values. Same goes for Mozilla. I believe that by sharing our mission, the relevance of what we do and providing them opportunities to do something, we can have long-term contributors, who not just help improve the organization but also pass on what they have learned from their rich experiences with Mozilla.
Perhaps the Mozilla Philippines Community is one of those communities who witnessed the power of empowered young people. Most of our volunteers are either still students or young professionals. We have witnessed great transformations from being a shy volunteer to assuming a big sister/ brother role as a facilitator of our FSA Leaders Camp. We have Reps who started as Student Reps/ FSAs and come to think of it, I was a student when I joined the Reps program. Mozilla fascinated me years back and now I have set the Mozilla values as my own.
Alright great, exploring the youth’s potential looks like a promising strategy, now what?
I think we have two problems though, young people tend to be shy… and underrated. In some places it might be the seniority culture and for some, maybe we’re just not inclusive for them.