TLDR: This post might be helpful for people who are about to volunteer or attend an EAGx for the first time.
This is a relatively late post (due to unforeseen circumstances) as the conference had taken place exactly two months earlier from this date.
Right from the shuttle service to the venue, till the last day of post-conference retreats, it's been one of a kind an experience at EAGxIndia, my first ever EAGx.
Volunteer application experience: I applied for a full-time volunteering position so that I could understand the maximum essence of co-working in the EA community. However, the organizing team had quite prudently decided to allocate me a part-time. Later during the conference, I couldn't help but wonder how insightful a decision it was; personalized for me as a first-time attendee. Of course, the organizing team had an idea of my background since I was already a part of the community (Indian Network for Impact, previously EA India). But I understood how meaningfully I was allowed to volunteer part-time and observe the conference for the rest.
The procedure involved: I went through a screening with an organizing team member. A cheerful face (Harriet Patterson) asked me about my aspirations for volunteering at the conference. Next, within a week I got an outcome of my screening and was selected as a part-time volunteer. Part-time volunteers were requested to arrive a day ahead of the main conference. The full-timers perhaps arrived 2 days ago. Volunteers were also invited to join an online training a week before the main event.
Arrival at the conference: As I landed at the location, (Jaipur, India) I recalled that it was the land of India's rich history. I cherished my presence on this land for the first time after reading about it in my school history book. The venue selection was spot on! Comes next, is the shuttle assistance. Although I didn't have a shuttle close to my arrival time, I communicated with the coordinator that I would take a cab. This coordinator took care of my safety (by asking for my live location) throughout my travel from the airport to the accommodation venue. I was also told that I would be reimbursed for my cab expense since I was a volunteer. With this, my immediate understanding was- You're greatly taken care of as a volunteer at an EAGx!
The coordinator surprisingly had a very friendly nature. This in turn unsurprisingly made him a good friend and the first point of contact (in case of any anomaly) for me and hopefully a few others at the conference. This helps especially when you're alone at a place for the first time. Came to know later that he was studying Law and had been exposed to EA for the first time.
About the accommodation: It was a decent arrangement. Shuttles were arranged for transportation purposes between the stay and the conference venue (both were about 10 mins apart).
First day of the conference: I somehow gulped something for breakfast as the training was about to start and attendees were to arrive by that evening. Unfortunately, I caught a bad cold. The organizers had arranged Covid test kits for everyone. I took a test and could continue being in the conference as the test result was 'negative'!
Volunteering begins: After a short training with Harriet, we were handed over to the leaders of our respective volunteering departments (e g. Logistics, Registration, Speaker Liaison). I was on the registration team. Our team lead, Ivan Burduk, took us for scouting around the venue. It was fun for sure. We were figuring out the locations ourselves so that we could promptly guide the attendees.
Then, we started arranging the IDs for the attendees and speakers at the registration desk. But wait, funnily I had not received my volunteer ID yet. On my way to look for my ID, I found someone who was quite a sport and managed to find out my ID from somewhere. I finally got to hang the ID around my neck, feeling like an authentic volunteer. This person was Sudhanshu Kasewa from 80000 hours and he was not only volunteering but was also a speaker at the conference. Amazing!
The conference begins: I had the first shift. It didn't feel like work at all with fun, fellow volunteers viz, Fidula (Indonesia), Ivan (New Zealand), Kyle (USA), Suryansh (India), and a few more. We the volunteers were working and having our best time, simultaneously. Thankfully the team never felt too serious.
The next day onwards, I didn't have any shift but could not stop myself from going back to the registration desk for peeking into fellow volunteers' work. Can't help but mention Jyoti (India) and her cute act of putting an EAGx sticker on her wrist and she probably had one on her cheek too. Haha!
Next up were speaker sessions and networking opportunities. All the attendees were already using an app (Swapcard) where each of us could connect and book slots to have 1-on-1. From my experience, first-time attendees should have a balanced approach of attending both speaker sessions and 1:1 sessions. This lets you decide which side you would want to err on at your next conference. Also, if there's a clash between a talk and a networking session, my suggestion would be to go ahead with the latter as I learnt from an attendee there that the talks are uploaded on CEA's YouTube channel.
The last day of the conference: It expectedly ended with a keynote speech by Ollie Base from CEA. He was describing how the event was a success despite being the first ever in the country, specifically in an LMIC. We volunteer cum attendees also got our share of appreciation for our work. Each of the humble organizers of the entire event gave very short speeches to our respite (haha) and the attendees were given to fill out an event survey form. After that, we saw cups arranged on the registration desk to send notes (anonymous or otherwise) to each other before bidding adieu. Post this, the next 3 days for me went by attending some insightful retreats including the CE retreat and a Community building retreat.
Concluding here this short yet memorable journey of mine. There were so many more, other things which had made the entire conference and retreats special but I wouldn't want to elongate the post. If I have missed out on anything please let me know. Additionally, If you've any questions, please feel free to put them below the post.