The 10th edition of the Agile Testing Days, which took place from November 11-16, 2018 in Potsdam, was very special for me. This year, I did not only help to organize the conference, but I was also part of the official AgileTD program. Together with Søren Wassard, I facilitated and hosted an open space walk’n’talk named “Get your ideas moving”. It was a perfect opportunity to walk the streets and parks of Potsdam and share feelings, emotions, ideas, and experiences from AgileTD and learn about the history of Potsdam at the same time.
Søren and I came up with the idea after one of the last year’s agile morning runs. We discussed the idea of offering an additional run in the afternoon to give people the chance to get out of the hotel and some fresh air after a long day at the conference venue. In the end, however, we came to the conclusion that it would be a bad idea as a run in the afternoon would compete against interesting workshops and talks.
Nonetheless, we agreed to propose a bonus session. The session should combine Søren's last year's walk’n’talk session with sightseeing. The aim of this session would be to meet other attendees, chat and walk, and learn about the history of Potsdam. We wanted to get the attendees moving - both literally and figuratively.
In the late summer, I explored the two test routes that Søren and I had agreed upon. One should lead through the city center and the other one through the Park Sanssouci. Otherwise, it would be boring for people who might attend both sessions.
Sketchnote of my first test tour through Park Sanssouci
When the day finally came for Søren’s and my first session, I could feel my heart beating wildly in my chest with excitement and nervousness. I ran up and down, checking more than once if I had my notes with me. Oh, I was a nervous wreck inside.
You might think now: But she is an event organizer and communicates daily with different people. Yes, that is true, speaking to people in order to help them, give them information and take care of them and their well-being is relatively easy for me. But speaking in front of people I don’t know and having all eyes on me makes me nervous. It reminded me of the time when I was about to take an exam during my studies.
This session was clearly out of my comfort zone, but I promised myself to do my best and help my “partner-in-crime”. And in the end, there was really nothing to worry about. The groups on both days were very friendly, open-minded, full of curiosity and great listeners. I felt really relieved and happy afterward. It was also great to get some nice feedback on our session from the people we hosted during the tour.
As planned Søren and I walked different routes on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. On Wednesday we explored the city center of Potsdam. We divided the sights on the route between us. I focused mainly on interesting and curious background facts. Søren did a wonderful job in explaining the sights and bringing their history to life.
After a short introduction and a brief period of getting to know each other, we set off on time and walked down Jägerallee to the Jägertor. We then followed Brandenburger Straße to the Brandenburg Gate and Luisenplatz and passed the Alte Wache and Platz der Einheit. We visited the City Palace (Landtag of Brandenburg), the historic city center with St. Nicholas Church, Barberini and the Old Town Hall and walked slowly to the Dutch Quarter and Nauener Gate. By the time we reached our last stop – the Russian Colony Alexandrovka close to the venue hotel – it was getting dark. The first day went very well and I was now excited for the second day as I had planned something special for the participants.
On Thursday afternoon, we took the group around the beautiful Park Sanssouci. We thought it would be a good idea to enjoy the nature and calming scenery of this world heritage to relax and calm down for the last days of the conference. We started off walking to the Ruinenberg with its artificial water reservoir, ancient design elements, and the Norman Tower. On the way down to the Castle Sanssouci, we stopped at the Historic Mill. The Park Sanssouci is a very spacious ground connected by many visual axes that let you always explore something new. About 200 white marble statues are effectively arranged throughout the park. Unfortunately, all statues were already hidden in wooden boxes to protect them from the cold and rain, but there was still a lot to see. When we turned around the corner of Castle Sanssouci, the park lay at our feet. Although it was a cold November day, we could see far beyond Potsdam.
I have planned to surprise the group with something very special when we would arrive at the Castle Sanssouci. Before we left the hotel I have organized a bag full of potatoes and it was now time to hand them out to our group. I explained that it is a tradition when visiting the grave of Frederick the Great to put a potato on his grave to remember him. All the participants were delighted.
We continued our guided walk passing the Picture Gallery and the Church of Peace (Friedenskirche). We ended this tour at the Obelisk marking the exit of Park Sanssouci.
After all, it was a great experience and I am thankful for this opportunity to get out of my comfort zone. I had great conversations with great people and I hope I can continue with “Get your ideas moving”. I already have a lot of new ideas in my mind for next time and I took home a lot of inspiration from the conversations. Also, I am thankful for the people who came to Søren and my sessions and gave a lot of feedback afterward. I really appreciate it. Thank you to Søren who provided me with a lot of interesting material on facilitating and encouraged me whenever I was anxious or felt overwhelmed with the situation.