Development conference takes place at UW

Those interested in international development gathered at the 2010 Talk Change International Development Conference, held on the University of Waterloo campus on Oct. 30.

Students from numerous Ontario universities including the University of Guelph, York University, McMaster University and Wilfrid Laurier University gathered to hear keynote lecturer Dr. Andrea Baumann speak about her involvement in health and development.

Her speech was catered directly to those wishing to enter the field of development, using her experience as a stepping stone to encourage the eager crowd.

“Be courageous in your design, be courageous in working with people,” Baumann said. “Move out of the box and what you think you can do together because you’ll do some amazing things.”

The associate vice-president of the faculty of health science at McMaster University, Baumann spoke about her experiences working in rural areas such as Pakistan.

Her dialogue melded her experiences as a University of Windsor nursing graduate with her experience dealing with Canadian governmental organizations such as the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

“When you’re interested in [development] work you have to be left brain and right brain,” said Baumann, who gave the audience advice on how to get involved in development work.

Her advice ranged from networking with professors to watching the websites of organizations for job postings.

“Take any opportunities you can,” said Baumann, who said that there are a growing amount of opportunities for development work compared to when she entered the field.

Baumann applauded the early Saturday morning crowd and said they obviously possessed “a quest for knowledge, a quest for understanding; that for me is the very first step.”

Although her speech was overwhelmingly encouraging, Baumann did warn that “the political forces can push back sometimes a lot of what you work for,” and explained the rigorous evaluation process organizations like CIDA impose upon development initiatives.

Stating that development work can often be a slow process, Baumann encouraged the crowd to foster partnerships while working in the field.
She emphasized the importance of a well-connected group dynamic and said working in a group is a negotiation not unlike getting “married over and over again.”

The Talk Change International Development Conference was meant to quell misperceptions about development, connect theory and practice, raise awareness for long-term development solutions and create a forum for students, non-governmental organizations, clubs and academics.
The conference took place throughout the entire day.

Speeches and workshops were geared towards many aspects of development including humanitarian aid, gender and development and disaster relief.