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.
Since Portland, our core team composed of majority volunteers (read: only one staff directly handling us 6 E-board and 30 RALs, with 5 months operating without a Community Manager even) has been working hard, even finding loopholes, keeping these flaws within ourselves just to ensure that the FSAs have a good image of the program and Mozilla, especially of the staff teams we are under in. 2015 was a crazy mix of challenge, fun, hope and stress. I could go on with the problems we had (some were even so embarrassing for a big organization like us) but let’s allow the details to rest. We managed to endure it anyway.
Come Orlando workweek, we were shaken by a huge change. The Community Manager left and we moved to the Participation Team. We were so happy we moved to the team focusing on volunteers but sad our CM, who was our light in all the chaos, left. The rumors are true, magic really happens in Disney. We thought everything will be awesome nonetheless, because hey, finally we will be more about those marketing numbers! We will finally provide a valuable experience that our passionate students deserve. Sadly, fast forward 1 week until the next All-hands later with gigs of data spent on online discussions in the past 5 months, things just gotten worse. And yet again, it was brought by the confusion caused by the difference between how us volunteers and the staff are seeing the program, exacerbated by the unfortunate case of not being able to focus talking about it.
I can’t help but think about one thing: Even after pouring our heart out in our work for the FSA program, no. one. cares.
I will be honest that my 2016 so far has been the most tensed months I have ever experienced volunteering for Mozilla. I am just not giving up, thanks to the inspiration brought by the passionate people I am working alongside with who have been working hard, putting up with all the crap we have been experiencing, motivated to see the end of this storm we are facing. All for the young people committed to protect the open Web.
Congratulations for surviving my 600-word background story. That means you are intrigued to know where I am coming from. Now, what’s the plan for London?
You might have already deduced that I only have one major concern in mind: Our team is tired of this cycle of being eternally confused and most of all, underrated. (Segue: I blogged about my thoughts on the value of youth involvement in Mozilla here.)
So what I simply wanna do is finally bring this discussion on the table and actually focus on it.
Bluntly, here are the questions I aim to get an answer in London:
- What do you, staff members, really envision about Mozilla in campuses?
- What did you learn from the volunteers on all the listening that you did?
- What were the lessons we learned from trying out the Campus Campaign for the program?
- What are steps we take to move forward? When?
Diving deeper, my specific goals would be:
- To finally get a clear direction on where we are heading, so that we know what we shall be working on.
- To get everyone put everything they know about what Mozilla is doing that involves students, especially those not very visible to the community.
- To express how a lot of people involved with FSA, including myself, felt bad on how we were treated/handled for the past months, especially throughout the course of the Campus Campaign, and make an agreement on how to ensure something like that won’t happen again, not just in the future campus initiatives but also in other areas of Mozilla.
- To get a very clear, non-passive, direct, no-more-sugarcoating closure on all the things left hanging so that we can…
- Create the transition plan, especially on our logistics to be properly communicated to all concerned so that we can all move on. Because recently we feel that staff members seem to be only concerned with the high level planning, goals and visions, forgetting our logistics in the grassroots level. What is the sense of planning all these if the people we are planning for are already too pissed off to care? #realtalk
Apologies if you expected a very positive and idealistic goal setting post about MozLondon, but in order to make the most out of it and to ensure I communicate my expectations, I wanna spill it all so we can help each other move forward. While all these things happening have truly been depressing, I have never been so motivated to give it all in London to clarify where we will be heading. I love the challenge and I am so excited to be involved as we shape the future of it together.
Enough of the sugarcoating, hiding, delaying and leaving things hanging. Let’s just freaking do this.