The Global Development Symposium exposed me to a vast range of issues and research topics. Over the course of the three days I feel as though I have gained a great deal of valuable insight and knowledge about some of the major issues we face, and the ways in which people from around the world are tackling them. I enjoyed hearing from the various groups associated with the IHACC project, and learning about the different research that comprises it. People from many academic backgrounds and who have many different interests were all brought together through this venture and through the symposium itself. Having the opportunity to learn about the larger scale of the IHACC project was valuable as it has helped me to better understand my role in it and how that will ultimately contribute to the program’s goals.
The panel discussion from Veterinarians, Doctors, and Engineers Without Borders was also a highlight of the symposium. It was great learning about the work being done by these groups, and seeing that even though very different, engineers and health practitioners can have a common purpose and goal. Finally, I was happy to hear about some of the many initiatives that the University of Guelph is involved with throughout the world. Before the symposium I had not known about the “Shine a Light” campaign founded by Alastair Summerlee, which helps to support the education of women in refugee camps. I also learned more about the “Bracelet of Hope” campaign, which was something I had seen around campus but had never realized the effect it was having in Lesotho, Africa. I was surprised to learn just how quickly the fundraising goals of these projects were met through the support of the Guelph community.
I was also surprised by some of the more grim facts presented throughout the symposium. The reality that not enough is being done to oppose climate change is something that most people already know, but nonetheless it was sobering to hear and see some of the projections made about the future during keynote lectures and oral presentations. Despite this it was uplifting to see the positivity individuals still had when asking questions and discussing climate change issues.
This hope and optimism that speakers had even when talking about tough issues was inspiring and I believe it instilled the same feelings in the audience. The symposium was effective at addressing issues clearly, but in a way that did not overwhelm listeners. It was exciting to see the enthusiasm with which people gave their presentations, and it was clear that everyone was very dedicated to their work and contributing at larger scale. It was stressed throughout the symposium that everyone is capable of making change, and this was very motivating and encouraging for me as I begin my Masters and hope to make my own impact through my work.