Coming back home
Going to an IFMSA General Assembly is something you are likely to never forget. You know from the start that you are going to come back home exhausted, but proud of what you have accomplished in a few days, happy to have seen precious and inspiring friends, excited about all the positive energy and the willingness to change the world, lifted by IFMSA special magic. The GA was very special for me: I was crazy enough to run for IFMSA Executive Board 2013-2014, I led a delegation of ten enthusiastic members, and I gave several trainings in between.
Even though I didn’t win my elections, I never felt like I had lost something, on the contrary, I have gain integrity, strength and respect. I have learnt what it feels like to expose your very own values and opinions to a room filled with hundreds of people. I have learnt more about politics than I could have imagined. Above all, I have learnt that staying true to yourself and your personnality was the best politics advice I could ever get. Experiences like those one forge us to become even more aware of the challenges we might face as 21st century professionals. They push you to your limits, but they allow you to grow stronger.
Leading a delegation isn’t easy. It was my third time as head of delegation, and probably the hardest one. Trying to match approximately 18 hours of work/meetings/sessions per day with personal interactions with each of your delegate is near impossible. You would like to ask all of them how did their sessions go, what challenges they are facing, if there is anything you could help them with. You want to laugh and enjoy a drink with them. You want to know who they have a crush on, you want to share some magic moments, you want to see them grow day by day. Instead, you are giving tons of documents to read, analyze and criticize, you skip all the social events to go to plenaries. You ended up seeing them less than your own bed (and let me tell you that in a GA, sleep is a luxury). But once again, this GA showed me that every moment with your delegates is extra precious, and that it is ok to lead by your action and dedication to work.
I was lucky enough to give several trainings and to lead some sessions during this GA. One I especially liked leading was on advocacy. Advocacy is a very powerful tool for medical students, as it allows you to build campaigns, to speak up your mind and to defend your beliefs. I must say it was one fruitful collaboration with Usman Mushtaq, current IFMSA VP of External Affairs. We didn’t expect at all that the little time we gave our participants to plan a campaign on universal health care would turn into one spectacular flash mob.
As I said earlier, going to a GA is an experience you are likely to remember all of your life : the instant and lasting friendships, the endless working sessions either too early in the morning or too late at night, the crazy moments late at night when you don’t really understand what is going on but you are just happy to be surrounded by international friends, the never-ending laughs that no one remember why they started, the wierd energizers, those magic moments that only happen once. I remember one afternoon when we blasted the music in the plenary room and started dancing: we were unstoppable! And we are not talking about the nights when the plenary went wild and collectively moved on the beats of “Ai se eu te Pego”, “Open Gangnam Style” and the classic « Call me Maybe ». Or this famous roll call where every NMO president confirmed their presence in their own langage. It is times like this that make you realise how lucky you are to be able to sit with people from 100+ different countries, to be a part of a Federation that embraces diversity and respects your values and ideas, that takes you as you are, regardless of your backgrounds.
During this past GA, our federation grew bigger, with more and more medical students being trained to become leaders in their communities. We exchanged projets, we built international plans for our collective future, we sharpened our leadership and communication skills, we shared our hope for a better world. Above all the drama that could have happened during the GA, I believe we are now more ready than even to fight for global health equity and to advocate for our future patients’ health.
I came back home feeling that the GA ended too quickly, wishing I had had more time with friends to exchange projects, ideas, inspiration. But I also came back home proud of what I had accomplished and contributed to. I do wish sometimes I could have done some things little differently, but overall, I am satisfied. I am inspired, filled with passion and a burning desire to see IFMSA-Quebec, my home, grow bigger and stronger in the next couple of months.
Not surprinsingly, I suffered from a postGA syndrome, and so did my laptop. It is now filled with stickers that remind me daily that there is a global community of medical students worldwide who are determined to change the world and to shape the health of the planet. And that is why I love IFMSA that much.