Conrad S.C.L. Tonoukouen ( ITM Alumnus & EV 2013 at the ICASA conference in Cape Town)
Now that 2014 has started (happy New Year to all of you, by the way!), I can look back on three great weeks in South Africa, from 24 November – 13 December 2013. The three weeks I spent in Cape Town, South-Africa, turned out to be an exciting experience for us, ITM alumni and EVs 2013. We learnt so many things and shared so many wonderful times with people from all over the world during these weeks: ITM staff, EV alumni, ITM alumni, EV colleagues , professors from UWC…
As far as I am concerned, four things stood out:
- We learnt how to improve networking and communication skills, which are very important nowadays, including for academics. In a few days, we learned how to communicate with a wider audience and make our opinion more visible… via Twitter, blogs, Facebook! To make our voices emerge!!! We also improved the content of our presentations, being challenged by one another. For example, while having discussions via so called “fishbowls” – it was my first time to hear about this innovative format. A fishbowl discussion is a dynamic conversation on a hot topic where there is no distinction between speakers and audience, experts and non-experts, …
“Pecha kucha” was also quite an experience: 20 slides; 20 seconds per slide… Practice, practice and practice! But after a few weeks, we were all happy to have tried and succeeded, and were able to convey our message without “Killing people with powerpoint”… Furthermore, in just a few weeks, we managed to go from a simple poster at the beginning to a very professional one… or from dark to light, so to speak! At the beginning, EV posters were characterized by too many colors, a small font, and no clear message, but at the ICASA conference, our posters really stood out!
2. To really feel “HIV in Context” we enjoyed many field visits: Khayelitsha, Saartjie baartman centre, Paarl, Lwandle, traditional healers, Mfuleni!!! But we also enjoyed Cape Town with touristic visits and some parties!
3. The ICASA Conference was of course a key milestone in our three-week journey in Cape Town. It was wonderful to support our peers with their oral presentations and posters and it was really nice to see how different and innovative they were, compared to some other presenters.
4. The ITM alumni meeting offered us the opportunity to meet our colleagues from e-Scart, former ITM alumni, ITM staff… We discussed topics such as:
* “e-learning versus a traditional ‘on campus’ course”: even if most ITM alumni thought that traditional courses like MPH offer many advantages, it is obvious that distance learning provides opportunities to more people from underdeveloped countries to study and update their skills.
* The future of the MPH course: ITM MPH alumni all agreed about the relevance of the course and explained how useful the course was/is for their current position and what we can improve in the future.
To conclude this blog post, I would like to greet:
- ITM staff: Prof Wim Van Damme, Marie Laga, Marjan Pirard,… for their exceptional coaching
- Former EVs: Natalie Eggermont…
- All EVs 2013
Finally, a special thought goes to Nelson Mandela who passed away during our journey in South Africa.