The Mexican Sickness

The Mexican Sickness

Day 4. As I awake I hurrily pay attention for nausea: it is hard to decipher if it from an alien agent, or from the 1.5 hours of sleep I had last night. After breakfast, I focus my attention for symptoms that would confirm the hazard: fortunately, no upset stomach. I look at delegations around me, their numbers are low; many are gazing emptily at their plates, in contemplation it seems of their frail state and impending downfall. The countries are sinistered; half of the German delegation is ill, amongst which 3 have ended in the hospital. Of my delegation, a few have been nuked with fever and nausea; however, we have Gravol and Gastrolite supplies. Yes, it appears the GA has been plagued by the mysterious « Mexican Sickness ». The Organizing Committee has taken measures to feed the participants with hygienic, contamination-safe lunch boxes from now on.

As was « hinted » last entry, some aspects of the GA have been problematic. I stand unaffected by the mexican sickness (note: I am grateful for the resilient microbiotic flora I have acquired in China). Still, one of the most disastrous omens of this meeting was, for me, being assigned a training for soft skills session on emotional intelligence… with less than 30 hours notice, and as a shared collaboration with trainers who, I quickly realized, were impossible to join. But despite all odds… the session came out as a great success; so much so, in fact, that I am now considering implementing it (watch out, TNT on empathy !)

A quick overview of the session:
– we opened by asking all participants to identify an emotion which they felt they had grown up with. The aim of this introduction was to engage, and « warm up », the participants’ emotional intelligence.
– we carried on with a questionnaire / test, highlighting 6 dimensions of EI, which allowed participants to become aware of their strengths and weaknesses in emotional intelligence
– there was then a theory session designed to teach how EI… (1) functions (grossly) from neuroscientific and psychological perspectives; (2) improves doctors’ and med students resilience, clinical skills and patient relationship; (3) can be explained through specific dimensions/indicators; (4) how those dimensions can be worked on (« EI building ») through concrete settings, practices or attitudes.
– finally, to wrap up with the training and put the theory into practice, the particiipants were asked to design an EI capacity building initiative, focusing on the target public, the targeted dimensions (of EI), the proposed methods or tools, and finally, the intended impact.

A even quicker overview of plenary sessions
– I was introduced to the concept of « bylaws », and the regulation (bureaucracy one might say) of plenaries; the process appeared incredibly rigid to me, as are probably most processes of large international organizations, and was obviously frustrating to countries who failed to meet its guidelines. Motions to suspend bylaws as to allow countries with invalid positions to be reintroduced as legitimate candidates were raised; only the candidature of India (an invalid candidature for full membership) succeeded in suspending bylaws.
– Many countries were added to IFMSA’s repertoire of trial members and full members, including Togo, Kosovo (a delicate political background to consider), Zimbabwe and Syria (a very touching candidature).
– The candidate for the 2017 August Meeting, Tanzania, gave a pitch which got people at once impressed, interested and amused (the promotion was somewhat « butt shaking »). However, a complain was raised that the proposed attendance price for this GA is too expensive to allow fair access to most NMOs.
– Candidates for positions such as IFMSA’s executive board, team of officials and supervising council, gave presentations to support their candidatures. Alexander Lachapelle, from our delegation, presented his candidature for Liaison Officer for Medical Education.

Plenaries sound awfully serious and dry, and worst of all, last very long, which you can imagine is a real challenge for delegates who have had very little sleep through this event. What I noticed, amusingly, is how creative and playful people get when they are trying to avoid boredom and survive a plenary. For example, there is an informal contest to steal fellow NMOs mascots while they are not paying attention (ours was almost lost!), and on tuesday, switzerland launched a betting game on who would guess the ending time of the plenary. Most optimistic time was 11:07pm, while most pessimistic suggested 4:20am… and won the bet.

Tschüss, and see you next update