In the beginning of RM2016….
January 17, 2016. The first night. At 20h30, the delegates from Québec went down to the mezzanine to join the other delegates for the opening ceremony. On arriving, the floor was already full of people. Everyone was waiting to enter the hall. As we waited, I made a panoramic mental picture of the mezzanine. Everyone was elegantly dressed. In front of me, a group of half a dozen people were conversing happily. The three ladies were dressed in red long dresses; the other young men were in suits. One of them were holding a folded flag that had green, white and red, probably the Mexican flag. There was another group of handsome men with sleeked hair and suits laughing with a few ladies in black dresses. Meanwhile, people took turns to take pictures in front of the official RM of the Americas 2016 banner, just as movie stars do in a red carpet event. While watching the groups take pictures, I figured out that they were groups of delegates and in many groups, the ladies wore the same color dress. Automatically this made me glance at Aline and myself, and I smiled. Aline and I were both wearing purple dresses, also matching, even though we did not planned for it (you can see for yourself in the delegation picture on the official IFMSA website). At any rate, the evening continued with the opening ceremony that consisted of numerous welcoming speeches from the IFMSA president, organizing committee and other invited guest speakers. My favorite part was watching and listening to a group of children sing for us. They formed part of a social program that supported children from disadvantage homes. Their voices and choreographed side-to-side dance steps melt my heart. They sang five songs, one of which was about the hot summer days of Montevideo that bring much silence to the streets as people go away for vacations along the coast.
It was indeed summer in Uruguay. The temperature was around 27 degree Celsius, and the streets were surprisingly quiet with few people strolling by. However, the 160 delegates from 20 different countries brought some life to the city.
January 18, 2016. Today was the first full day of the RM. The morning was dedicated to the standing committee sessions. There are six standing committees: Public Health (SCOPH), Sexual and Reproductive Health including HIV/AIDS (SCORA), Medical Education (SCOME), Human Rights & Peace (SCORP), Professional Exchanges (SCOPE), and Research Exchanges (SCORE). Although my passion is public health, I signed up for SCORA because IFMSA-Québec was hoping one of its delegates would attend it. Since two of my colleagues were already with SCOPH, I decided to give SCORA a try.
The first SCORA session was an introduction to its mission, vision and priority agenda. The group of 25 participants also briefly wrote down their respective local SCORA projects on a wall map. In the next few days, we will hope to draw discussions from them. Today, everything was an overview and I looked forward to going more in depth in each one of the topics in the next few days.
The afternoon was devoted to a training session and NMOs, National Members Organizations, when each country’s delegation meet to share with each other their latest experiences, similar to a check-in to debrief on previous sessions and to plan for the next few activities. The training sessions were abundant in choices, varying from project management to negotiating skills to public speaking to lateral thinking. I had never heard of lateral thinking, so naturally, I signed up for it. What I learned from it was that sometimes, solutions to problems do not need to be logical to be successful. Even though they may not make sense, they just need to be tried out.
Then in the early evening, from 18h to 20h, we had a theme event which is basically a selection of workshops inspired by the RM theme. Today, our choices were on the need for global surgery, safe abortion and universal health coverage. I did not select one because I was presenting in one – Universal Health Coverage. This workshop turned out to have a group of participants that were enthusiastic about sharing their country’s health system’s successes and challenges. They were so engaged in sharing and brainstorming for actions that we left planning to meet again for lunch tomorrow to wrap up our discussion. I considered it to be a success because I was able to stimulate a lively discussion. Plus, the participants expressed satisfaction at the end of the workshop. Mission complete. Well, partly, as the RM continues tomorrow….
I am going to stop here, because I think it is getting to be too long for a blog. I wish to write more, but I will do so for my next entry.