September 29, 2011

We are pilgrims, not tourists.

I enjoy conferences. I enjoy them so much. It’s hard to say if I like working behind the scenes more than I do attending. Well, it’s probably an even mixture. The past few days, the Madras Christian College Social Work Department has been hosting: a National Study Conference on the Millennium Development Goals and Human Rights. I was blessed to participate a bit behind the scenes with setting up the hall and being part of the Exhibition Committee and the Documentation Committee, because I’m currently a member of the MCC Social Work Department. :)

Our BCA crew and our lovely MSW professors. Prince, Priscilla, and Miriam.
Our Exhibition Committee was created on the Friday before Conference! The BCA kids had come to the Department for a big meeting about conference and everyone was gathered in their committees, but at the time we didn’t belong to any committees. So, Prince came over and told us that we had become the Exhibition Committee. Our role as the Exhibition Committee was to make sure that all of the poster presentations were hung and that we coordinated with those from other schools to make sure everything was in order with those. Our task was to make sure it looked “academic.” We decided to call ourselves the X-Team.

X-Team Assemble! JJ and I taping up some posters in the Hall. 
At the same time, Prince also asked us to collaborate amongst our team (The X-Team!) and design some posters to be hung up. No big deal. Go design these, bring it back this afternoon, and we’ll take a print out tonight! So, we hustled back to our hall to design 3 different posters. I opened up photoshop and made some designs, while our team helped to create catchy slogans to put onto them. I was really pleased with what we created and so was Prince. (Minus, the setbacks when we tried to first get them printed – something weird and technical that caused the images to be distorted when brought up at the Print Shop. God Bless, Karthik, and his patience for having to deal with that mishap on Friday and then having to go again with 3 different copies of each design on Saturday just to make sure nothing went wrong, because we did not have any more time!)

Working Together for a Better World
One Step at a Time
On Monday of Conference I had to present my poster! For my second CA (Continuing Assessment – i.e. exam), I researched a topic in relation to India and the MDGs and Human Rights. My topic was forced migration, which I have not researched much about at all until now. So, it was exciting to learn so much more about forced migration and internally displaced people in India. During the half hour, Conference participants wandered around asking each presenter questions. 

Photo Credit: Jess and Hannah, thanks! 

Photo Credit: Jess and Hannah, thanks! 

I was talking to Richard (II MSW) on Sunday before the Conference officially started and he was talking about how he was designing the booklet and it was all pretty much left to him. I asked if he needed help. He said, “Yeah, do you know how to use photoshop?” Oh, goodness. I do have some experience. So, each night of Conference I would help design some pages with Richard and Daniel (Documentation Committee Chair) to put into the book. 

Late nights, little sleep, and lots of work!?! Count me in!

Get this, though! After each day of Conference, we would have dinner and then the attendants would go to the Department to sleep and the MCC students would go to the auditorium for a meeting that started around 8:30pm. The girls who live on campus in Martin and Margaret Hall had to be back no later than 10pm. So, they would have to be hurried out as soon as our meeting finished. Then some local off-campus girls and hall/off-campus boys would linger to finish some things up for the next day. Since I am an exchange student, the Hall curfew is not as strict for me so I was allowed to stay a bit later. However, Professor Prince would always drive me back to my hall around 11:30pm or 12. He wanted to make sure that the guard would let me back in – he wouldn’t challenge a Professor, but he might challenge a male student walking me back late. It made collaborating or working on designs difficult in case Daniel wanted to assign something else or would want to make changes to something I made, but we made it work. Essentially, I would receive homework to do after I left. I didn’t mind leaving too much, since I was allowed to ride on the back of my Professor’s motorbike!

Conference was such a wonderful opportunity for us to spend more time with our fellow MCC MSW students. You could spend all the time in the world with students in a classroom, but you truly get to know someone when you have to work alongside them or collaborate. I have grown so much closer with so many of them over these conference days. Especially, with working on the Conference book with Richard and Danny and asking for tasks from the Hall Chairman, Karthik.

At the final meeting among the Department after Conference was over, Prince mentioned a lovely phrase that I think really sums up my experience of the weekend. We are Pilgrims, not Tourists. Yes!  This completely describes my conference experience! My greatest fear is that I’ll be a tourist on this journey, instead of forming friendships and having meaningful moments with all of my new friends. I am so thankful for these moments as a pilgrim.
Photo Credit: Larsen Michael. 
These people are so fantastic and they KNOW how to put on a successful conference! <3 


I realized that you might not be aware of the Millennium Development Goals. I wasn’t aware of them before I arrived in India, probably because I’m from a Developed Nation. They are a set of 8 goals drafted by the United Nations for developing nations to achieve by 2015.
The 8 Goals are:
1. Eradicate Poverty and Hunger
2. Achieve Universal Primary Education
3. Promote  Gender Equality and Women Empowerment
4. Reduce Child Mortality
5. Increase Maternal Health
6. Combat HIV/AIDs, Malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure Environmental Sustainability
8. Develop Global Partnerships
(Booyah! I wrote all of those from memory!) 


PS - I'll do an update post on A) my excursion to Hyderabad and on B) what I actually learned at conference and more reflections about it! 

PPS - I go to Delhi in two days! I finally get to see the Taj Mahal!! 

No comments:

Post a Comment