Anime Central is a convention run by fans for fans! As such, we like show you the faces of those who volunteer their time to help run the Convention. This week’s post is an interview with our Department Head for Volunteers!

Speaking of volunteering, if you can’t spare time to work before the Convention, why not volunteer at the Convention? As an Anime Central Gopher, you go where departments need extra help. In exchange for your help, you’re eligible for free badge for next year’s Convention! It’s the perfect opportunity to try out various departments and maybe even find a department you want to join as a full staff member next year.

Some of the perks of volunteering at the Convention include:
- A full badge for yourself to next year’s Convention (2014 only, after 16 hours’ worth of work)!
- Access to the Gopher hotel room at the Convention, shared with other Gophers (each night you’re there, after 6 hours’ worth of work per day, but space is limited)!
- A small peek at the inner workings of Anime Central!
- A prize for the Gopher who works the most hours!

This year’s Gopher Prize is themed for our Sweet 16 in 2013! The Gopher Prize shows how our best Gopher is:

- A very sweet volunteer: a DVD of the complete series of Antique Bakery!

- A highly skilled volunteering ninja: a DVD of Ninja Nonsense!

- A lucky Red Shirt that survived volunteering: A Star Trek Red Shirt towel!

If you volunteer for setup before the Con opens (as early as Wednesday) and/or tear down after the Con closes (Sunday afternoon), those hours count for double! Keep in mind that we’re a non-profit volunteer organization and happy to help you meet any community service requirements you might have! For more information or to sign up, visit, under the “At-Con Volunteer” section, or stop by the Volunteer Headquarters during the Convention.

So without further ado, here’s a little about the person who rides herd on all our Gophers!

Name: Angel Sickels

Department: I’m the Department Head of Volunteering, in charge of organizing the volunteers (Gophers) who help work the weekend of the Con.

Staff/for how long: Gopher (‘02-’09), Assistant Department Head of Volunteers (‘09-’10), Department Head of Volunteers (’10-Present)

A little about yourself:  I love baking a lot, and I’ve had a good amount of experience making picture frames. I also sew pillows for fun. I like to feed duckies by the pond, and I like ice cream in the cold. I go to other nerdy conventions in the area like Capricon, WindyCon, and Duckon. I play computer games, and I’ve even skipped work just to play The Sims. I learned my lesson and will never do that again. I do not support nor do I recommend anyone to do this.

What are some of your favorite anime related media? My first true love on the Japanese front was, Megatokyo. Staying up night after night at all hours just to catch up from the very beginning, but ironically enough, I’ve very behind to this very day. Seraphim and Boo are my favorite Characters, so much so I have my very own Boo “talking” plushie and have considered on many occasions to have Seraphim done as a Tattoo. = )

I also love Domo-kun. In fact, it’s the unofficial mascot of the Volunteers Department!

I’ve also enjoyed Steel Angel Kuromi (but only the first season), Angel Beats, Kenichi, Fruits Basket, Legend of Dragoon on PS1, Stich 626 on PS2, and Red vs. Blue.

What was your first ACen experience? I have three first time experiences with ACen. My first time going to ACen,I had a horrible time. The worst part of the night was when one of the people I was staying with had a seizure. I handled the situation, but the fact I was alone during the rest of the weekend is what made me leave. I didn’t know anything about the Con, so I left early and I thought I’d never come back.

A few years after that, I met an ACen staffer and he convinced me to try the Convention again. He introduced me to the then Department Head of Volunteers who encouraged me to be a Gopher. So my first year as a Gopher, they had me helping Registration. While on shift, I went outside for a smoke break and when I tried to get back in, Rosemont Police wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have a badge yet at the time. I had to have a staffer vouch for me to let me back in!

About 4 years ago, I finally joined Staff, and on my first year, they threw me in the deep end and made me Assistant Department Head of Volunteers. On top of that, the second year I was ADH for Volunteers, I was promoted to full Department Head. I must have done a good job because I’ve been DH ever since.

Why did you join staff? They needed help! I have a friend who’s been on staff since it started and she was a good influence. She taught me everything I know. Staff always needs help and we’re always looking for Gophers!

What tips do you have for attendees to enjoy ACen more? As much as it hurts to say, don’t volunteer your first time at ACen. Experience the Con your first year to see if you really enjoy it. When you come, don’t go alone. Make sure you have someone to hang out with and share the experience. You should also know your vocabulary. My first year at the Con, dealers were yelling words like “yaoi”, “yuri” and “otaku” and I had no idea what they meant. You don’t want be thrown into a Yaoi panel unless you specifically know what it is and if you are into that. If you don’t know what “glomp” means, make sure you ask someone that you trust who will tell you. Finally, stay hydrated! There’s a lot of walking between the hotel and the Convention Center. Bring lots of extra pairs of socks. Your feet will thank you.

What were your most interesting experiences with Gophers? Feel free to leave a comment!

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