Tuesday, August 19, 2014

outside of the box - Pre congress workshop summary

Pre congress workshop summary
by Attila Paksi, from Hungary - Australia, one of the particpants, 
teacher at St Margaret Mary's College

Thinking about what to expect from the workshop around 2 weeks ago, still staying back home the 4 days long workshop in Bhutan seemed like a magical, unique experience. I thought like it because of the beauty of the place, because of the special connection to nature what Bhutan represents. Writing this summary a week after the workshop, I have to say, I was not wrong in that sense. But, on top of it, the workshop itself provided such a useful experience that an emerging ethnobiologist can only dream about.
Road to Lobesa, photo by Attila Paksi
The first day with the bus trip from the airport was quite exhausting, but provided a great opportunity for networking straight away. The next morning we all greeted each other like friends, and from there onwards, the cohesion of the group just grew more and more each day. The workshop started with a beautiful opening ceremony performed by our Bhutanese hosts at the College of Natural Resources (CNR), Lobesa. After the inspiring welcome speech from the Director of the College all the workshop participants got a chance to introduce themselves and their research to the others. In the afternoon we jumped into the deep water of Research ethics and Research methods led by Kelly and Verna. This session gave us not only the opportunity to listen to actual cases but gave us skills and knowledge to develop proper ethics and methods to our own research. During the hard work and passionate discussions we always had time to have a laugh and make some jokes as well.
Anita Heim and Attila Paksi in traditional Bhutanese cloths
On the next days we tried to find out how to balance between our professional and personal life as a researcher, we learned about the Masters of Development Practices (MDP) program offered at CNR and listened to couple of presentations from Bhutanese researchers about Bhutan, about their research and the Happiness Index. All these sessions contributed greatly not just to get to know Bhutan a bit better but mainly to develop our skills and knowledge as an emerging ethnobiologist.
Market in Lobesa, photo by Attila Paksi

Personally, my favourite session was another one though. Over that session each of the participants needed to imagine where they see themselves in 5 years time. We not only needed to make a note of this, but needed to identify the skills and knowledge we lack to achieve our goal. It was a great activity to reflect to ourselves but also showed a pattern what emerging ethnobiologist need to enable them to become professionals and role models for the future generation of researchers.
To sum up, the workshop provided the most useful space and activities what an emerging ethnobiologist can ask for. The organization was great, the food awesome, the Bhutanese nature and people amazing and on top of it, the skills and knowledge that we gained were top notch.

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