A week in Ukraine for the first WordCamp Kyiv

Written by: Emanuel Blagonic

Published on: October 3, 2016

I like to travel, visit new places and meet new, interesting people. WordCamp Kyiv was my 6th WordCamp this year, and the 4th I’ve been speaking at. Since I try to have at least 2 different talks each year, I applied to Kyiv with two talks, and a new one about accessibility got accepted. While really looking forward to meet new people I didn’t know what can I expect from Ukraine. But the thing is – Ukraine is amazing.

P.S. I Love You – A Story About Web Accessibility

Accessibility is something that is really important to me. On the Contributor day at the first WordCamp Europe in Leiden, I was lucky enough to share a desk with the accessibility team. Rian Rietveld and Graham Armfield were among those people, and both of them gave me better insights on the accessibility issues we have on the websites today. In that time both Lucijan and myself started to improve our design and development process to approach accessibility as an even more standard part of our process (we cared about accessibility even before).

Opening remarks by Anna Krammar (Photo by Artem Zhavrotskyy)

Opening remarks by Anna Krammar (Photo by Artem Zhavrotskyy)

Working on the new website for the City of Rijeka, we wanted accessibility to be even more important part of the project. That’s why I was really looking forward to deliver the accessibility talk at WordCamp Kyiv.

A day before I was nervous as I usually am when delivering a talk for the first time. Luckily for me, I got a chance to have a Skype call with Rian, so I showed her one of the final versions of my presentation. She loved it and gave me some more examples and advices I could use, to make people understand the importance of accessibility (thanks Rian for your help with it).

The talk went pretty well, the audience was engaging and what I really loved was the questions. Talking on quite a lot of conferences in the past couple of years, I usually don’t get that much questions at the end, but the Ukrainian community was really engaged.

WordCamp Kyiv

From the organization perspective – it was a WordCamp very well organized (especially for a first time Wordcamp). Having a one track WordCamp is my personal favorite, so I was happy about that decision. The organizing team did a great job to make us feel very welcome. And the Ukrainian community too. After each talk there were so many questions and I thought that questions could just go on and on.

WordCamp Kyiv venue was full for most of the talks (Photo by Artem Zhavrotskyy)

WordCamp Kyiv venue was full for most of the talks (Photo by Artem Zhavrotskyy)

Everybody did an amazing job – from Anna (Kramar, who was the lead organizer), to Andrey (Savchenko, better know as Rarst, who was our speaker contact), to Artem Atsekhovskyi (who did an amazing job crafting the visual identity of the conference, which was in my opinion – one of the better I’ve seen.)

Other organizers (Oleksandr Strikha, Olexiy Fedorov, Vitaly Nikolaev), MCs and volunteers were also amazing. And lastly, I have to mention a man responsible for photography too. Artem Zhavrotskyy did a great job capturing the spirit of the conference. Thanks for having us.

With me in Kiev was Lucijan who gave a talk about Designing in a browser. I don’t know if this was the first time that two brothers have had their own talks on a WordCamp but it sure feels good. :) (and here is Lucijan’s recap)

Everything was filmed so a video could be uplodaded to WordPress.tv (Photo by Artem Zhavrotskyy)

Everything was filmed so a video could be uplodaded to WordPress.tv (Photo by Artem Zhavrotskyy)

Getting to know Kiev

Before the conference and in the days after, Lucijan and me went to explore Kiev. The good thing is that we had an organized tour of Kiev (kudos to the organizers for making it happen, I’d really like to see more WordCamps do that since it helps people to get to know cities where WordCamps are organized).

Kiev is an amazing city with more than 500 parks (which makes it really green), and there are quite a lot of churches and monasteries in the city too.

During our tour we visited the Mother Motherland monument (Rodina Mat) – a giant 62 meters statue, sitting on top of the Museum of The History of Ukraine in World War IIboth statue and the building together stand 102 meters tall. The statue was even taller, but the top of the sword was cut to make it lower of the cross of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, a historic Orthodox Christian monastery. Pechersk Lavra is one of the seven UNESCO World Heritage sites in Ukraine, and it looks really amazing.

There is something else we wanted to visit – Chernobyl exclusion zone. Now, I wrote about this experience on Facebook, and I don’t want to make this article about Chernobyl. If you want to know about my experience there (and see some photos), you should read the article on Facebook.

I can only say that it is a kind of experience that makes you think. I also believe it is these kind of experiences that makes us more human, more emphatic and at the end – more understandable of others.

Until next year, Kiev.

People were asking a lot of questions (Photo by Artem Zhavrotskyy)

People were asking a lot of questions (Photo by Artem Zhavrotskyy)