The last few weeks have been a crunch, but also an incredible experience. Hopefully it doesn’t make me sound like a slouch to say that I’ve learned more in the last few weeks of the class than I did in most of the time before. A big part of this is the ambition of the project and my teammates — early on when we were conceptualizing the site, Zelda set an example for all of us by saying “yes” to our vision of what the project could be. With a complex, custom built site and only two developers (and that’s being generous to myself — if there are two of us total, Zelda is one and a half), the work I did had to be useful.
I can’t overstate how intimidating this was at first. When I read Gemma’s post the other day, I found so much to relate to — even with the abundance of documentation, including a developer guide Zelda wrote for me, Github still feels like a funhouse maze, or maybe a club that’s technically open to the public, but which requires complex, arcane rituals. Committing my changes, at least, always feels like an incantation that, when I say it, can lead to unexpected results, like creating a hundred extra files that I then have to delete one by one. Which makes me realize the analogy I’m looking for is this:
there was originally an embed of an official clip of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” from Fantasia here – I guess even the officially sanctioned Disney videos don’t play nice with WordPress, which checks out. If you’ve never seen it and want to get the reference, you can watch it here. A tl;dr – Mickey is the apprentice of a very stern sorcerer with great powers; while the sorcerer casts very cool spells, Mickey is stuck hauling buckets of water up and down stairs. When the sorcerer clocks out for the day, Mickey decides to use his magic hat to enchant a broom to carry the water for him — with disastrous consequences. The enchanted broom quickly floods the sorcerer’s dungeon, and everything Mickey does to try to stop the chaos makes it worse. As a very anxious kid, this sequence from the movie always haunted me!
Except, of course, Zelda is a much kinder, more encouraging sorcerer than poor Mickey’s boss; instead of fixing my errors for me, they’ve helped me figure out how to fix them myself and cheered me on when I (finally!) get it right. I know from experience that that often takes more time and patience, and I’m grateful for it.
And now that we’re close to the end, we have a whole website, rather than a big mess of broomsticks and buckets, and I can see how my work has helped make that possible. It’s rewarding to see how my contributions have aligned with and supported Zelda’s wizardry, Estefany’s designs, and Majel’s immense passion and knowledge.
One thing that’s been true all semester is how lucky I feel to have gotten to work on this project and to help shine a light on the history of Wampanoag activism while learning about it myself. My feeling of gratitude has only deepened. As a (very) new mother, this semester was always going to be tough for me, but my teammates have shown me so much grace and care, from their patience when I’ve arrived late to our Saturday calls, to their ability to hear what I’m trying to express, even when I’ve been too tired or scattered to find the right words. In ideal circumstances, I wouldn’t have to write code with my baby strapped to me, or bounce him on my lap while trying to discuss database structure or 19th century history — but Estefany, Majel, and Zelda celebrated the fact that I was a new mother and a student, rather than letting me feel guilty or less than for having to balance both at once. For that reason (and so many others!) I’ll always be grateful for the time we spent working together.