It seems like there has never has there been fewer hours in a day. Seriously. From SMW (small working groups) to plenaries to theme events to acticities and research fairs, you really begin to wonder how all of it fits in 8 to 8 sessions. Add the after hours to the mix and you get a jam-packed schedule that leaves no room for anything else, be it rest or tourism. And we’re enjoying every second of it.
As the LEO representative, I attend mainly the SCOPE (standing committee on professional exchanges) meetings and activities, as well as the common theme events and fairs. Our SCOPE training is very focused and aims to make us more efficient in our local and national coordination of exchanges. We’ve gone over PDTs (pre-departure training), UATs (upon-arrival training), SRTs (sub-regional training), how to organize each of these events and their objectives. We spent time on the essential process of handover, and subsequently conflict management training. Spread between these sessions are advocacy/time management/leadership/you name it trainings, as well as conference panels on climate chamge and its impact on health (Dr. Jaime Miranda et al.). Dr. Miranda’s presentation really hit home regarding having not only to recognize our precarious situation worldwide, but most importantly to act on it as both an international organizarion and as individuals.
Ideas are flying around and it’s sometimes hard to believe how differently or similarly some things are done in different parts of the world. The activities fair is an event where each NMO presents a project they have created to the floor, and it is incredible what some people have on display. From body painting workshops to obesity awareness (a very important issue in Latin America), the projects are as ingenious as they are ambitious. Huge props to the trainers and organizers for creating this environmement of creative fostering and camaraderie that unites the Americas so tightly. While some of the actual sessions might be simplistic and basic, it is really all about the conversations you have with peers and what you can learn from their experiences, and them from yours. There are some lows obviously: mornings are rough and some trainings are more tedious than others but ultimately you forget about the terrible cafeteria food and the suffocating heat. I’ve learned a great deal, and I feel that I will have many stories to tell when I get back home.