I’ve left the African continent and found my feet firmly planted at the International Federation of Medical Students Conference in Canterbury, UK. I actually woke-up to the experience at about 10am this morning, in front of 50 students while I presented the International Health Mentorship Project for the first of two times. I watched myself give out some business cards at dinner, to some of the speakers. We acquired a couple new mentors. I advertised our new website: http://ihmp.cfms.org/
Apparently I’m back up North! That happened pretty quickly, didn’t it?
On the subject of adaptation. I walked into my hotel-esque room here at 2am on Saturday night, confronted with crisp air, quietness, an internet hook-up, a hot shower, air-con, cleanliness, a warm bed and a thick comforter. And a fridge with fruit, bread, milk and cheese in it. A clean kitchenette, with an iron in the closet.
12 hours previously I’d been (not really) sleeping one of those quasi-‘mattresses’ in a somewhat sketchy, muggy, dusty hostel in Dar-es-Salaam, next to a mosque-turn-nightclub-at-10pm that destroyed my ear drums all night.
On the subject of the IFMSA Experience. Students from all corners of the world surround me every moment, talking about internationalism with enthusiasm. Heated debates. Discussions. Documentaries. Speaker series. Trainings. I came to this meeting with dedication to open-mindedness. I am listening to students to better understand their international priorities, and their beliefs, and their capacities. Especially, I’m listening to my co-Canadian Delegates. They are so smart, and I have much to learn from them. At the same time, it is incredible to be back in a similarly-minded group. It provides me with some much-needed relief.
On being back with colleagues. Canada is here in full force, with a delegation of 26 students (mostly from Quebec). Canada is bidding to host this IFMSA meeting in August 2008, and that’s our main purpose at this conference. To promote the bid, which will be voted on tomorrow. (http://www.montrealam2008.org/). This is exciting, with the prospect of hosting over 1000 international medical students in Montreal for 5 days next summer!
On responsibilities. Tomorrow I present the International Health Mentorship Project to 500-700 delegates. I’m excited for this project, for its relevance and for its innovation. I only hope it provides a slice of motivation or excitement for the listeners. Or at least a glimmer of recognition. I can only hope for the continued success of the idea, for the continued successful education of medical students by NGOs. For continued mutual learning on all ends of this.
I am home in six days. Incredible.