There will always be a special place in my heart for FanimeCon. While I did attend other conventions before Fanime, this one sucked me in and I've been attending every year since. I suppose there are a few reasons for this, from the transformation of San Jose to a cosplay paradise, the 24 hour immersive nature of the event, to the fact that I ended up with my boyfriend thanks to this convention. Additionally, I spent my first year of FanimeCon as a volunteer in order to get a free pass, and had a great time meeting people and getting the inside scoop on everything.
While being a volunteer was a great experience, I wanted extra time to attend panels and explore the convention. Thus, I spent the next two years as a regular attendee. During this time FanimeCon introduced Clockwork Alchemy, a steampunk addition to the convention. I really enjoyed the interactive panels of Clockwork Alchemy and felt that I found the right place to spend my time as I aged out of FanimeCon's dominant age demographic (not that there's an age limit to attending Fanime!). However, I missed being able to help out and often found myself with more downtime than I wanted. This year after some internal debate, I decided to volunteer once again.
I definitely took on more responsibilities this year, and even got assigned a walkie-talkie for the first time. Being a volunteer was rather nerve-wracking at times since I didn't want to be "that person" who screwed up and made into one of those "what not to do" stories they tell during trainings. Working this convention was no joke, and I'll admit that the shifts were long, grueling, and stressful. While I am a social worker by trade, managing mobs of congoers (with the occasional angry person) was really different from anything I've ever experienced at work, and I definitely gained insight on interpersonal skills I should hone for next year.
Was the experience worth it? While I found that I spent even less time exploring the convention than that the last time I volunteered, I'd definitely do it again. Volunteering for Fanime allowed me to experience the event in a different way, a way that allowed me help others better enjoy themselves. Furthermore, I really enjoyed getting to see more of how Fanime/Steampunk Alchemy is put together, and working with those who are just as passionate about the convention as I am.
I realize that FanimeCon/Clockwork Alchemy 2013 has its fair share of problems, and I also realize that tons of improvements need to be made for next year (especially after reading the forums). This is one of the reasons I'd like to return and increase my involvement in the planning process of the convention. With my increasingly busy schedule, hopefully I'll have the time to volunteer again next year! We shall see how things go over the next several months!