A Conference of Generous People

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I have previously written about the planning process of our conference for young investigators, specifically mentioning the financial problems and our personal solution to launch a crowdfunding campaign. Thanks to magnanimous donations from family, friends, and companies, we were able to exceed our goal, which helped us put together an incredible conference.

Now that we have concluded the conference, I have the pleasure to discuss the fruits of all of the donations and hard worked poured into every stage of this process. Our I Conference for Young Investigators UAM, “Conectando el Mundo Atlántico: redes, barreras e intercambio (1492-1830)”, was celebrated this past Wednesday through Friday (2-4 April).

There were two main objectives for this encounter: the first was to provide an academic space for Master/PhD candidates to present their current projects and receive feedback on the initial stages of their investigations; the second aimed to mirror the complex world centered around the Atlantic Ocean that we were studying throughout the conference creating our own networks by bringing people from all different parts of the world to intervene in the conference.

Throughout the 9 sessions celebrated over the 3 days, I believe it is safe to say that we fully accomplished both of these objectives. Each of the young investigators presented stimulating presentations of their studies, which led to intensive debate and discussion upon the conclusion of each session.  Included in this discourse were the 6 provocative lectures by our established professors. To have a glimpse at our program, click here.

Our first day of the conference was a smashing success, providing the setting for the rest of the conference. After the conclusion of the day, our Professor Eva Botella Ordinas and I went to the radio studio, where we were invited to give an interview about our conference. The Museo de América holds a monthly program that focuses on different aspects of their collection with interviews with other third parties. Due to our partnership, we were invited to come and discuss the different aspects of our conference. I had never been in a radio studio before, and must admit it was a fabulous experience. The director and sub-director of the Museo talked the first 15 minutes about the change in collection practices and how those practices influenced the collections of the museum. Following that discussion, Eva and I were invited to speak for 15 minutes about the conference. The hardest part of this discussion was that we had to speak fully in past tense, since the program will not be aired until Monday and there are important conclusions from the event that you cannot know before the conclusion of the conference. Who knows how coherent it came out, but it is an experience I will never forget.

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The second morning started with a stellar lecture by Professor Thomas Cummins, who was my thesis adviser my senior year at Harvard. Professor Cummins has always championed the various dreams of his students, which is especially prevalent not just in his participation in my conference, but his advice throughout all of the stages of its planning. In my introduction to his talk, I highlighted the role he has played in my academic growth, stating that: “his passion is contagious and possibly the reason that I continue to study the diversity of expression of systems of power during the colonial era.”  Both Tom and Eva, through their own personal academic careers and their intensive support of student projects, have provided me with the model of professor that I hope to be in the future.

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Through our partnership with the Museo de América we were also able to provide a practical, hands on experience during our conference. We celebrated the entire second day of the conference in their Salón de Actos and then moved into upper museum space, where we had a chance to further get to know one another while noshing on typical Spanish tapas. (This lunch is one of many examples of how our crowdfunding money aided in the organization and completion of a phenomenal event.) With stomachs full we split into two different groups based upon the two themes of the day: the power of art and scientific expeditions. Each one of these groups discovered different pieces of art of the Museo de América with the experts of their collection, the Director Concepción García Sanz and Conservator, Celia García.

 

 

 

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That night, we organized a group dinner at the Restaurante Compostela, a local Gallegan restaurant owned by neighbors of Iris. We were set into a back room reserved just for our group, where we were treated to a fabulous meal that consisted of 5-6 starter plates to share amongst the table, a main entrée, and dessert. The restaurant catered to our every need, which goes to show how important it is to work with friends when planning these types of functions. We are all so grateful for all of our connections in Madrid and throughout the world that made all of our activities and dreams possible!!

 

 

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Friday after many suggestive and thoughtful commentaries we officially ended the conference. As an event planner, you know that you have successfully planned an event, when no one wants to leave. All of the young investigators milled around our Salón de Actos (where we held the conference at UAM) enjoying one another other’s company.  These ties are personal as much as they are academic, which proves that we fully accomplished our first objective. As a group we headed to a central bar in Sol, owned by friends of Miriam, where we were able to share one last meal before everyone headed back to their respective countries and universities.

Although the conference has concluded, we taped each session, so that anyone can join the discussion. Click here to watch the videos. (This is the first video from the streaming version; we are meeting with the film crew from our university in the next weeks to put together a formal versión of the conference. Also the languages vary from English, Spanish to Portuguese)

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Our adviser, Professor Eva Botella Ordinas (UAM) aptly mentioned that these types of conferences are based on Generosity. The generosity of the Masters/PhD students, who provided their own funding to attend such activities; of the professors, who carved time out of their busy schedules to interact and help the students; and last but not least, of our family and friends, who gave moral, economical, and spiritual support throughout every stage of the conference. We could not have pulled off such a fabulous event without the GENEROUS contributions of everyone involved!!!!

 

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