CarpentryCon Experienced by Latin American attendees

That's one small step for The Carpentries, one giant leap for Latin America

Inspired by the “CarpentryCon Experienced by the African Carpentry Task Force” blog post, we decided to copycat our friends from the other side of the Atlantic and share our experience.

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Paula Andrea Martinez

CarpentryCon was on my plans to attend since last year. Yes, I was super eager to meet the online community in person. Interacting with people online and then to see familiar faces and add a hug to each of the greetings was very gratifying. I’ve been working with the Carpentry community for three years and a bit more, and since last year, having many online meetings, multiple email and issue threads. All of you were part of my days, also I’ve missed not seeing some of you. For me, it was a sharing kind of event, people are so passionate and interested in taking this forwards so it was always very nice to hear the stories behind what has been achieved. It also gladly surprised me to have heard so many “thank you” phrases flowing one way or the other. Thanks for every person who made the event possible and looking forward to keep on the train of the communities. A personal highlight, when I presented the work of The Carpentries in Latin America in a short talk, I felt the need to continue with this, because many people will benefit of this amazing community.

Francisco Palm

I apologize for making it personal. I am a person with a passion for science and I feel that science has a lot to improve in form and in substance. It is my firm conviction that The Carpentries is one of the organizations that makes the most significant contribution in this regard and to have the opportunity to share with so many people who love science and contribute significantly to it, not only from the point of view of science itself but also from the human point of view, to participate in CarpentryCon was truly a dream come true.

Due to Venezuela’s economic difficulties, I had to make several requests that in other contexts would have seemed absurd but the organizing team of CarpentryCon (a.k.a the task force) exceeded my expectations in every way and showed that inclusion is not just a speech. I learned a great deal during the event and at no time did my enthusiasm for attending each session diminish, even missing the activities that happened simultaneously. And every time I remember what I experienced, I feel like I’m learning new things.

I was filled with many interesting ideas about how to strengthen communities from the inside out, how to evolve scientific software development that addresses particular needs, how to be a true community leader (thank you Greg), how to shape training content collaboratively, and much, much more. Thank you very much.

Gladys Nalvarte

I am Mariana’s mother, Peruvian, mechanical engineer. I became a CFD specialist, in Brazil, after eleven fantastic years in the university then I decided to find my place in the industry. I used to work in a Norwegian company and it was great experience. When my time in the private industry ended, I went back to my origins, to the university, this time in Oslo and I found fantastic people there, my good friends Ana Costa and Anne Fouilloux, they introduced me to The Carpentries.

I realized working in the private industry, that each group of people has its own personality, its own dynamics. It is an entity even if we don’t notice. That is the same everywhere at home, in the university, in the industry. The personality and the dynamics that I found in the Carpentry group is the closest that I found to satisfy my need of sharing and receiving, in this group this dynamic is very well balanced so it makes this initiative sustainable.

During my master’s and PhD time, I was always afraid to go for the experimental part, there were too many risks and uncertainties so my decision was always for the numerical part (the safe side), after all I thought, the results depend just on me, on my own effort, on a good computer, and finally on my own capacity. But when I faced real life challenges, I learnt that experiments are the only way to prove our theories so to me The Carpentry is the best way to prove that it is easy to learn new skills, it is fun to do it together, and that you don’t need to be a super specialist to help other people to solve their problems.

CarpentryCon 2018, to me, gave faces to this wonderful community. The dynamic of this community makes us feel closer and familiar. In this type of environment, it is easier to relax and learn. I learnt a new vocabulary to express my own feelings during the Ally skills workshop. I met new people, I saw their initiatives and dreams. This experience definitely gave high priority to my decision to become a more active instructor and improve my participation because I realized that together we are stronger and we can reach even more people that are waiting to find us.

Nicolás Palopoli

CarpentryCon 2018 was a perfect introduction to this wonderful community. I had only taken one Software Carpentry course many years ago, which left me with a great sense of accomplishment and high expectations for the initiative. Unfortunately, being based in South America, we are still far from The Carpentries. We hope CarpentryCon marked the occasion where this starts to change.

As a local volunteer in Dublin, I was lucky to greet many people and feel their excitement about this first global meeting. This was the only conference I’ve ever attended where people honestly cared about every other person, regardless of their role. There was a sense of equality among all participants that permeated every lecture, workshop, and informal gathering. This was especially motivated by the openness of the many high-achieving and recognized members of the community who attended, who always behaved as real allies to the rest of us. It was possibly the first conference where I was willing to watch all keynote lectures, got through every one of them without feeling sleepy, and took many useful notes to keep and share.

CarpentryCon was extremely well organised, with lots of attention to small and big details alike. The program was intense but the atmosphere was relaxed; the website was informative and functional, the venue was comfortable and the food was exceptional; logistics were mostly solved in advance (but properly improvised when needed). CarpentryCon has left me with many new friends and a firm commitment to help. We have the necessity and capacity for putting the many useful resources of this community to good use in training our current and future researchers in Latin America. We’ll work hard towards expanding The Carpentries across our region — I’m sure it won’t be long till I’m a local CarpentryCon volunteer again!

Renato Santos

CarpentryCon 2018 was the best conference I have ever attended — a mixture of brilliant and enthusiastic people who are not only interested in results, conclusions, and getting funding, but also on how people are learning, teaching, interacting with each other, and getting involved. A very inclusive environment that reflects how this amazing community acts worldwide! I came back to Brazil with new ideas on how to organize or encourage the organization of workshops in Brazil and South America, and with a lot of new good friends. As a PhD student in Bioinformatics, it was impressive to realize the great representativeness of people from my field in this community.

Ian Flores

I am 19 years old from Puerto Rico so coming to CarpentryCon was, at least, intimidating. However, since the first moment, I felt more than welcome. And this is not to say a cliche. Since my first conversation, I got connected to other attendees who were working on translating the Software Carpentry lessons into Spanish (my main reason for coming to CarpentryCon). I got to learn not only about coding but also about how to work collaboratively in a safe environment for all kinds of people. I was surprised at how diverse the conference was. I got to learn so many wonderful people from the African Carpentry Task Force that got me inspired to work in the Caribbean to improve data literacy and access to open data. As a final note, coming from Puerto Rico, I had very high expectations from the food, and it didn’t disappoint, the variety, the options for vegetarians and vegans, and its tastefulness were great. I am also grateful to all the wonderful people whom I met that helped me in some way or another, be it through a small conversation, life advice for a young scientist like myself, or through graduate school advice.

Raniere Silva

For me, CarpentryCon was the best 5 years anniversary for contributing to a project that I could have, I have a lifelong debt with everyone that helped this amazing event to happen because only another event organiser knows how much work is involved. Greg, in his keynote, mentioned his surprise to the first email that I’ve sent him, but he didn’t mention the date; it was that around middle June, 2013. The Carpentries has been an important part of my life and I can only remember happy moments like meeting the first Steering Committee in JFK airport, New York, US or teaching a workshop in Brazil during a big university union strike at the same time that Jonah Duckles was visiting Brazil. It was a enormous pleasure to meet you all in CarpentryCon and I’m looking to co-write the next 5 years of The Carpentries history with you!

Final words

From left to right: Renato Santos, Ian, Francisco Palm, Paula Andrea Martinez, Raniere Silva, Nicolás Palopoli and Gladys Nalvarte. Photo by Bérénice Batut available at

The Carpentries activities in Latin America would not be possible without the help of in-numerous instructors and friends that could not attend CarpentryCon. Special thanks to Abel Siqueira, Alejandra Gonzalez-Beltran, Daniela Ushizima, Diego Barneche, Fernando Mayer, Filipe Fernandes, Heladia Salgado, Ivan Ogasawara, Kally Chung, Luiz Irber, Rayna Harris, Selene Fernandez, Susan McClatchy, Tania Allard and many others for the contribution to add pins in the The Carpentries past workshops map.

All The Carpentries workshops in Latin America until 16 June, 2018. Screenshot of