I’ve attended the SLC every year, and each year I leave happier than the year before. Do the organizers of this iconic UBC student event know what they are doing!
Despite the snow rain this year, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole conference from start to finish again. The now-customary introduction by UBC Improv was witty and funny, although I don’t know if they set the tone for the conference right, I sure as hell loved their performance and looked forward to the rest of the day with delight.
The opening dialogue with President Toope, Dr. David Ng, and some students on shaping the university was somewhat interesting, but I didn’t feel inspired to navigate through the bureaucracy. It was challenging enough to set up my SDS; I do not want to imagine how quickly I would be gabbled up and spit out if I get close to the big machine. That’s not to say I admire the administration’s attempt at involving students in the development of UBC’s vision for the next 20 years; the Question of the Week was very innovative and fun (and the first question I saw was “UBC has been successful in commercializing its research. Is this important for UBC to continue to do?”, and it did nothing but kept me interested).
The first featured presenter I listened to was Jim Frankish, and he was humble, humorous, and inspiring. The work he did with community health, his comments on non-medical health determinants, his ideas on funding trained (social ethics, interdisciplanary health, etc) university students to form buddy system with street kids, everything he said was engaging. Perhaps he should cut down on the self-humiliation, because he is nothing short of a great person.
During lunch time, I was pleasantly surprised by how helpful an invited panelist was. Charles, a 2nd year UBC med student, completely shattered the image of a stuck up med student. He was patient, charismatic, and sincere, and he listened to our questions and stories with interest and answered them as honestly as he could. Regarding the interviews, he told us that one of the strongest point of his interview had to be when he stopped himself halfway through an uninspired template answer, and went for an unprepared, straight-from-the-heart story. Honesty and sincerity is what makes or breaks an interview. Listening to Charles for 20 minutes could very well be the most important part of the SLC for me this year.
The closing key-note was another highlight of SLC 2009. Unlike Stephen Lewis last year, Roberta Bondar conveyed the message of passion, hope, and a genuine enjoyment of life and learning. She spent 18 years in university (!?). She’s a trained physician, and after 18 months of practice, she decided to become an astronaut (!?). She’s also a published and exhibited photographer (!?).
This is someone who’s motivating no matter what her message is; all she had to do was to stand on stage and talk.
She lost track a little bit towards the end of her speech, but overall her humor and energy was over the roof. I think she should try to be a stand-up comedian some day.
“Let me get through my speech, and we’ll have 15, 20 minutes of Q & A at the end. You can ask me how we pee in space then.”
Anyway, kudos to this year’s organizing committee, and a congrads on a job splendidly well done! 🙂