In this series, we share some of the inspiring stories of how WordPress and its global network of contributors can change people’s lives for the better. This month we feature a translator and campaigner who uses WordPress to highlight good causes and helps people in her area benefit from the open source platform.
Going to a WordCamp can be a life-changing experience, as Devin Maeztri discovered. Every event she attends is a further step on a journey of discovering the WordPress community and its many opportunities.
Devin’s first experience with camps came when she volunteered impromptu at an Indonesian event, WordCamp Denpasar, Bali in 2016.
Here, she made a profound discovery: “WordCamps can bring people who will give back to the community, even if they don’t get anything from WordPress directly.”
With every WordCamp after that first experience, she became more interested in WordPress and the community.
Over time, Devin found she wanted to be part of WordPress events more often. She became a regular at Meetups in Ubud and Jakarta, joining as a co-organizer at WordCamp Jakarta in 2017 and 2019. Later, she took on the role of co-organizer for Meetups in Jakarta and Ubud.
Smitten by what WordCamps can offer and how they can bring people together across national borders, she joined the organizing team for WordCamp Asia 2020. Sadly, this event was to become the first major WordPress event to be cancelled in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Naturally, Devin hopes WordCamp Asia will happen someday very soon. Beyond the expected WordPress learning and sharing that event will promote, she believes its very scale will showcase how WordCamps add international tourism and cultural understanding everywhere they take place.
Showing how WordPress can be used locally
After experiencing several events, Devin had questions: “At WordCamps and Meetups, you hear stories about how WordPress powers the web. How it changes the lives of so many people, how it helps dreams come true. It made me think, considering WordPress is that powerful, why are there not even more people in Indonesia using websites, and more using WordPress? Why aren’t more talented Indonesian WordPress users, developers, designers, and business owners taking part in WordPress.org projects? Language, for me, was the main answer.”
The solution Devin felt was to make WordPress available in the main local language. She said: “I believe, the more content translated into Indonesian, the more Indonesian WordPress users see WordPress as more than just a blogging platform or a content management system. They will realize it’s a huge open source community that works together to make the web a better place. The more plugins and themes translated the easier the work of the developer and designer will be. The more people see how WordPress can enhance their life, the better the ecosystem for business owners becomes.”
Encouraging others to translate WordPress
After talking with others about how WordPress could be even more useful in Indonesia, Devin felt she had to make a personal commitment to reviving the polyglot project in Indonesia. With another volunteer contributor and through promotion, the local polyglot team got bigger and the interest in translation grew. She also took on the responsibility of a General Translation Editor for the language.
Through the efforts of Devin and the other translation editors, Indonesia took part in WordPress Translation Day in 2020, and in 2021 held sprints and learning sessions spanning the whole 30 days of the event.
Her enthusiasm and dedication to helping others translate WordPress locally and promoting the global community were recognized in the Polyglot Appreciation Nominations for 2021.
Helping to give access to more diverse audiences
Through her involvement in translation, Devin noticed there were not many women involved in the WordPress community in Indonesia. Often, she found herself the only woman at an event.
So, along with a couple of community members, she started Perempuan WordPress, a local initiative. This group is open for everyone to join, but prioritizes women as event speakers.
Devin has gone on to support the work of the Diversity Speaker Training group in the Community Team, translating materials and promoting initiatives in Indonesia. She is keen to encourage others to get involved with this initiative which helps increase the diversity of presenters at Meetups and WordCamps.
In her professional roles, Devin is an advocate for WordPress as a tool for people with a wide variety of skill sets. She does not code, but uses the platform extensively for her projects. In 2014, she signed up for a free account on WordPress.com to keep and share notes about what she saw or was thinking about as she commuted on public transport to work. This site did not turn into a blog, but instead introduced her to other opportunities and the vast capabilities of the platform.
WordPress can support your skills and passions
With a background in environmental activism, Devin has worked for international development organizations on everything from policymaking to campaigning.
Behind the desk, she worked with policymakers and organized conferences and meetings. That meant doing a lot of writing and translating and working with people on the ground who were impacted by the policies. “My work on the ground usually involved researching, movement building and community empowerment,” she noted.
Her work with events inspired Devin to get involved in WordCamps and Meetups and share her energy for making things happen. As in her professional work, she felt WordPress was an opportunity to work and share with people about something that can make a positive impact on someone else’s life.
“For me, everything comes from the heart. I do things that I feel so strongly about. Things that call me, and things that I am good at but still giving me room to learn and become better at. WordPress can be the perfect place for this.”
While she was between jobs, Devin was encouraged to volunteer at WordCamp Denpasar 2016. With some help, she created an online CV. She also learned to manage a WordPress site, navigate the wp-admin, and make the content appeal to potential employers.
She eventually got a job as a campaigner to build a movement online and offline. The brainchild of many university friends in America, who used digital campaigns to go global, the campaign used WordPress.
Devin worked alongside a digital campaigner and helped shape the content, the call to action, and the user experience. She also had to use the wp-admin to make some amendments. As a global movement, it developed its resources in English, so she also reviewed the work of the translators she worked with.
She left her job as a campaigner at the end of 2018 to concentrate on freelancing – and to spend more of her free time contributing to the WordPress community. She also took up the initiative to help street cats in Jakarta.
Devin said: “So, I am busy helping these cats but also learning how to fundraise using a website. I’m learning to use online forms, set up a payment service provider, work on SEO, and do other new things I need to learn to grow my initiative. I do have the privilege to learn directly from a personal guru. The same person who convinced me to volunteer at WordCamp Denpasar, and who I married in 2018.”
WordPress gives everyone a chance to learn
Devin was so enthused by being a contributor for WordPress, she took part in the video shorts following the Translation Day events.
She is also active in other Contributor Teams and decided to become a Community Team Deputy to support meetups in new cities across Indonesia and perhaps future WordCamps.
She said: “One of the things that I like about WordPress is that it is very welcoming and open to people like me, who don’t code at all. At the same time, it shows me a different way of looking at the world.”
Devin believes in the power of WordPress to give ‘everyone a chance to learn new things’ and allows her to contribute and share her knowledge and experience. “By contributing, I hope to make a difference in someone’s life. I hope they feel the benefit of using WordPress and want to give back to create a healthier WordPress community.”
Thank you to Abha Thakor (@webcommsat) and Mary Baum (@marybaum) for the interviews and writing this feature, and to Devin Maeztri (@devinmaeztri) for sharing her story. Thanks to Meher Bala (@meher) for work on the images, and to Chloé Bringmann (@cbringmann) and Collieth Clarke (@callye) for proofing.
This People of WordPress feature is inspired by an essay originally published on HeroPress.com, a community initiative created by Topher DeRosia. It highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories might otherwise go unheard. #HeroPress #ContributorStory