The title really says it all. Seriously. I recently had the chance to make a very special trip to the Googleplex. It is an event I definitely won’t forget for a really long time.

I met and socialized with a students and mentors from all over the world—including from Thailand, Russia, South Africa, the UK, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Belgium and the USA—to celebrate the conclusion of the first-ever Google Highly Open Participation Contest. In addition to all of this social interaction, I had the chance to ride roller coasters at Great America, tour the Googleplex, talk to other GHOP students and mentors, eat at two of Google’s famous cafés, and listen to a set of amazing presentations by various tech luminaries who work for Google.

Today, I decided to put together a recap entry about the activities of the two days and what we did during them:

Thursday

I started the day by driving down to the hotel with my mom where the other GHOP students were staying for the four days of their trip. We picked up our Google/GHOP swag kits, which each included various items such as: a hat, a backpack, a sweatshirt, a t-shirt, etc. Afterwards, we proceeded to talk to other students about the projects that we worked on.

A few minutes later, our group’s bus arrived and then we drove off to the secret location of where breakfast was supposed to be. As the bus stopped, people began to chuckle. We were going to have our celebratory GHOP breakfast at an IHOP restaurant!

Many fun discussions, a set of pancakes cut into the shapes of specific letters and arranged so they said GHOP, and several group photos later, we all boarded our bus and headed off to our next destination: Great America. We spent the rest of the day (until 7pm) riding roller coasters, water rides, and other various attractions. At 7pm, we boarded our bus and went back to the hotel. While many decided to go to the Bay Area Python Interest Group’s meeting, I instead decided to go home (I was much too tired).

Friday

On Friday, we all started the day by meeting in the lobby of the hotel. After thirty minutes of fun, interesting discussions, our bus stopped in front of the hotel. We all hopped on board and began the short journey off to the Googleplex.

When bright, multi-colored umbrellas appeared next to the bus, we all knew that we were there. We all jumped off the bus, signed in, and headed off to Café Moma for breakfast. We spent breakfast discussing our various open-source projects. Roughly an hour later, we went on a tour of the Googleplex.

Around 11 AM, we began our awards ceremony. Chris DiBona, Alan Eustace, and Leslie Hawthorn led the awards ceremony, gave speeches, and handed out the awards to students. Mentors, students, and parents posed for photos.

Afterwards, we all walked over to Charlie’s Café and had lunch. I had the opportunity to have lunch with Alexander Limi, co-founder of the Plone project. During lunch, various student/mentor pairs were taken to a rather shiny Google video studio and interviewed for use on YouTube. Alexander Limi and I were interviewed in one of these videos.

After another group photo session in front of Google signs, we went back to the room where the awards ceremony occurred and finished the day by listening to a set of talks given by tech-industry stars such as Guido van Rossum, Romain Guy, Jeff Dean, Bharat Mediratta, and Mike Bland. Halfway though the talks, we took a short break to devour a beautifully-made cake with the GHOP logo on it.

Photos

You can find photos of the event in the ghop07 tag on Flickr and in the ghop07 tag on Picasa Web Albums.

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