From China to Mexico – A Journey in Disaster Management

From China to Mexico – A Journey in Disaster Management

Ni Hao everyone,

After the 2016 Regional Meeting, I am thrilled to be an IFMSA-Quebec delegate for a second time; I am now (even) older, more mature and wise, more resilient, more resourceful, more all-over-the-place, more blog ! This will be my first General Meeting, and while this can be somewhat intimidating, I am nonetheless confident the tide will pull me in (not without resistance) to another amazing journey with IFMSA, as I will be given a training in (wait for it…) NMO management !! (!?) National Member Organizations (NMOs) is the official and daunting term for the 127 IFMSA chapters spread around the world; and after spending a year drinking abundantly from the precious nectars of various IFMSA committees (SCOPH and SCOGH being to my heart the tastiest, most delicate nectars), I have taken up a national position as VPE, the Vice President for External affairs. And as this sounded like serious stuff, I thought I NMO Management sessions would be the serious thing to do.

Leaving from China, my first anxiety with the GA in Mexico, is getting there. To give a litttle bit of context, I have been doing a cultural immersion clinical internship in the city of Guilin, China, for a month (cheers to Xiya who was with me this whole time and will have to endure me an extra week at the GA!!). Now I to survive the long journey from China to Canada to Mexico without losing my mind, or worse, my luggage. But the key fear is leaving from China, as from here to anywhere really, the journey can feel as uncomfortable and upsetting as gambling your flight ticket home with a terrible hand. So far, all of my internal flights in the country were delayed; and amongst my colleagues, luggage has been lost, and flights cancelled. Then in the chaotic ambiance that nurtures insecurity and doubt, there stands the almighty language barrier that is mandarin, and in my case (departing from the Canton province), cantonese also. Yet, looking for reassuring signs that will ease up your worries, the only stimuli available to perception are overcrowded if not claustrophobic spaces, the digestive-struggle evoking smell of hot pot, and the many circulating chenglish t-shirts with meaningless superpositions of random logos and gibberish, much like a terratogenic fashion and reminder of how awkward the West’s interactions with the East can be.

But hey, paradoxically, this is the part that I appreciate most of China… it can never be taken for granted. So call it a test of faith, or a bumpy ride on a road whose travel signs you can’t understand, but I like to see this as my pre-GA training, in disaster management. Now say what you will but mark my words; this year with the IFMSA-Québec delegation in Mexico, I will be ready for anything.

My objective for the meeting in Mexico is to N.M.O. my skillset tree like a heavy league V.P.E. ! (feat. style and professionalism). But while I am there, expect the usual gig of curating our delegation’s exhibit of global health leadership with high standards of passion and zeal. And last but not least, why, I will also Quebexico-nize the AM so everyone’s hearts are warmly atuned to the taste of valentina and poutine (or tostadas and maple); yes, those are a few of my favourite things…


Charles-Antoine Barbeau-Meunier