Awesome Conference Experience in Canada

For me, attending conferences is the best part of being a graduate student in Canada! I went to the 2014 North American IAP2 Conference from Sep28-30 in Winnipeg and it was an awesome experience. Conference is not only a place for you to get to know the latest trends in your field and gain intellectual growth, but also a wonderful opportunity to network with people in higher positions (very beneficial for your future career). It would be great if you have a paper to present. If not, you can still create some chances to go for free, just be brave to reach out and earn yourself a volunteer position. The organizer for the IAP2 conference has asked me to write a short reflection on the conference and I would also like to share it with all the fellows in WENBA.CA. Before the actual reflection, I would first give you a brief introduction on the organization IAP2 and share some experience on the networking part during the conference. The last paragraph of this article would sketch on my favorite sessions in this conference.

IAP2 (International Association of Public Participation) was founded in 1990 as an international association of members who seek to promote and improve the practice of public participation in relation to individuals, governments, institutions, and other entities that affect the public interest in nations throughout the world.

As we can see in the brief introduction of IAP2, the task of public consultation in Canada is not confined to governments (which is different from China), and instead, most governments have outsourced the public consultation to the private companies or NGOs. IAP2 is an organization which provides trainings to P2 practitioners and a platform for P2 practitioners to communicate and exchange ideas. Therefore, the attendants of this conference include governments (City of Vancouver, City of Calgary, Government of Alberta), private companies in the field of public consultation and some other companies providing technical and other supporting services. I am happy to meet with the president of IAP2 BC chapter and I hope I can join some of their activities when I am in Vancouver this Christmas. I was in the same flight with a policy advisor working for the federal government (such a good luck!) and we talked a lot about how to get jobs in the public sectors. I think the most important thing for networking is BE SELF-AWARE, BRAVE and CONFIDENT. Self-awareness refers to the fact that you need to know yourself well enough that you can tell people what you want and what you are capable of. Bravery and confidence suggest that I dare to talk to people even with awful Chin-guish and strong Cantonese accent. I really hope my personal experience can inspire my fellows a bit. Indeed I failed all the time but I always keep trying and fail better.

“For a university student with no previous public participation experience in Canada, I benefit a lot from the IAP2 2014 conference in Winnipeg as a whole. For the time constraint, I would like to briefly touch on three inspiring sessions. Donovan, David and Sarah had delivered a very vivid and engaging talk on how to take transit planning to the people. I like their way of dividing their consultation process into three phrases and engage different people based on the extent to which people are affected by the transit project. This is indeed very practical and effective in a large consultation project with thousands of potential participants. However, this was not without problems as who can make the final decision of the consultation order. As we can see, it would be the planners and consulting companies, instead of the people themselves. Moreover, the demonstration of a concrete consulting process was very vivid and penetrable to lay people like me. My second favorite session would be “Patient engagement: More than a moral imperative” presented by Jacquit and Serena. The patient engagement process was innovative as it tried to empower patients by utilizing the power of story-telling, advocating experience-based co-design process of our health system. Nevertheless, they did not talk in detail on how to address the power differences between the policy makers and the patients in the final decision making process, and I think this is the trickiest question in the co-design process. It is hopeful because I can see the P2 practitioners at least trying to work things out. The last session I want to mention here is Dr. Cindy Blackstock’s touching speech on the “First nation engagement”. I think this radical researcher has set up a very good example for the future of IAP2---a combination of advocate, practitioner and researcher. I sincerely wish a brighter future for IAP2! “

0 个评论