Get to Know Julita Inca – Building a GNOME Community

As GUADEC draws near, we’ve been curious about the people behind community events. We’ve sat down with Julita Inca to learn more about what it takes to rally a community and organize and plan events. Julita is a professor in Peru, teaching database and operating systems, and is also involved in High Performance Computing (HPC) research. She’s been organizing and hosting events in Peru for the last 6 years. Read on to learn more about what it was like to start and build GNOME’s community presence in Peru!

Image courtesy of Julita Inca

Where are you from and where are you based now?
I’m from Perú, and I’m based in Lima.

How long have you been contributing to GNOME?
Since 2011. Before joining I began preparing myself by learning more about Linux Programming starting in 2009. I officially started contributing in 2011. I started getting involved in communities. In universities here they have the philiosophy to share knowledge, so I started getting in touch with friends at other universities who were also studying Linux, and I met a member of the board in 2010, Diego Escalante, who is also Peruvian. He started to get me interested in combining both work with Linux and communities, and he told me about GNOME. I was using GNOME, but I didn’t know it! So I applied in 2010, read more, got to know more about the community, and entered officially in 2011.

You’re very active within your community, especially when it comes to planning events. What motivated you to become so involved?
I won an internship, and it was my first travel abroad. I went to Cincinatti because Shaun McCance organized Open Help 2011 and gathered all of the GNOME Documentation guys there in his event. I started understanding how people behaved, which was different from how Peruvians do. Three months later I traveled to Germany to present my work with GNOME. There I met more people, and attended GUADEC, and I saw a very active and huge community. I hadn’t seen that here- the conferences in Peru were just based around lectures, but at GUADEC it was more about people, how they knew each other. In Peru we just didn’t have that.  I’m trying to get that here.

What are some challenges you have faced in planning events and unifying your local community?
I have faced many ones. The first one is to get partnerships or allies. Every year I try to get bigger and bigger events. The first one in 2011 was with 13 people. I was contacting friends, “Come on, we’re going to do Linux!” The first ones all said, “No, thank you, not today!” Those first 13 were a challenge for me. The next year I went to Spain for GUADEC and it was different, with different resources, so I started applying those. In 2012 I organized a Linux camp. GNOME sponsored my event with $400, and we celebrated Linux for one day, in a place 2 hours outside of Lima, and that was with 30 people. I knew the best way to start projects was by having a good time. The third year in 2013, I hosted one at my university with 86 people, in 2014 at IBM with more than 200 people, and in 2015 it was the biggest, with more than 300 people. Wherever I am I try to get along well with authorities so they let me host my events. Now it’s part of my life. When I worked at IBM, it took me 6 months to convince the authorities to let me host the event there. They were hesitant to have the IBM name paired and partnered with GNOME. I knew their name would attract people, and we had more than 200 people that year!
Linux Camp 2012, Image courtesy of Julita Inca
Linux Camp 2012, Courtesy of Julita Inca
I also want to get more Peruvians involved in GSoC and other things like that, but it has been a challenge. I’ve known 13 countries because of GNOME, and I try to tell people my story. I’ve realized that people don’t come just for install parties, they want more than that. I started to develop strategies. For example, the 6 of us who organized the event in 2013 presented our jobs and how they relate to GNOME. There was a movement, the Harlem Shake, and we did that there! This year my camp was 5 days long, and I helped them do everything for their applications for GSoC, even fill out the forms! I got more people applying to GSoC, nobody was chosen, but they promised me that they will apply again next year. So I have a plan now- it’s not just one event, its a plan with many different projects.

Do you have any tips for people who want to plan events or get their local community interested and involved in GNOME?
One is getting good sponsors that believe in Linux. That Linux is education. Sponsors give gifts and little things, but they have to believe in the event, so it’s important to present benefits and give a talk on it. For Peru it’s a social thing. I opened my mind with Linux, it fostered me to do my PhD, and it has encouraged me to want to use Linux in all aspects of my life, it developed the sharing philosophy, and to be grateful with the people that helped me, contacts from around the world.
The last event that I did this year, I didnt want just users, I wanted developers too. I had contact with HackSpace Perú, which does similar things, training people, and doing volunteer things related to any operating system. I decided to do the event with them. They gave me people who develop, I showed them Linux. And something that really helped me a lot to have more audience to my conferences was local news. One of my tips, besides having people that believe in you, have the same interests, it’s also kind of a business. It’s important to have those allies and partnerships.

And now for some fun questions…
What is your favorite place on Earth?
The beach. Anywhere with sand, beach, a laptop… and wifi if possible!

If you were an ice cream flavor, which one would you be, and why?
Maybe Lucuma, because it’s native from Peru, originally. It’s so intense, like me!

What is your spirit animal?
A bee. I’m always in movement, I like to do many things, and I believe that if people do something together as a team they do many amazing things. Alone you cannot do anything. …And I like sugar! *laughs*

Finally, our classic and important question; what do you think cats dream about?
They’re thinking about what to do next… they’re cold thinkers. Calculating what’s next! They are mischievous, they are so smart!

A huge thank you to Julita for taking the time to answer all of our questions, and for all of her hard work in organizing events and building GNOME’s presence in South America!
GNOME Peru Fest 2015, Image courtesy of Julita Inca
GNOME Peru Fest 2015, Image courtesy of Julita Inca

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