Sunday, June 28, 2009

D Day (-10) - A meeting of minds

Our first group organizer meeting was not due to start until 7pm this evening and thus we spent much of the day taking the time to adjust to our new surroundings in KNUST. It takes some time to realize just how huge this campus actually is. The land was granted to the University by the Ashanti King in the early 1950’s and ever since has been slowly filling up with new buildings and departments for KNUST. Even still, there remains a huge amount of the college covered in forest and tropical fauna. While the campus is a beautiful place to live for seven weeks, it is important we do not become too comfortable in the bubble that is provides as otherwise our village visits will come as a bit of a shock!

We took a walk to the Engineering Guest House for lunch and then began some work on readying the suites for the participant’s arrival in just over a week. While the Tek Hostel currently seems a fairly serene setting for the conference, I can imagine things getting a little bit hectic when the sixty or so participants arrive! However, we are quickly coming to the conclusion that Sundays will not be incredibly constructive from a work point of view as everywhere seems to be closed for the day as people take the day off to go to church. Ghana is predominantly Christian country, although Islam is on the rise and there are a huge number of indigenous religions practiced in rural villages around the country.

The internet in our hostel was also completely down for the entire which was quite frustrating but in a strange way, quite refreshing. In a world where facebook and gmail completely dominate our lives it is nice to take a step back and realize that we are not often living in the real world! Physical human interaction or ‘the Reality-net’, as Amy likes to call it, is actually much more important and I think this is in keeping with the spirit of IDDS, a conference that aims to produce physical prototypes, rather than paper proceedings.

Joe and Dennis go into the finer details after the meeting

After a quick game of afternoon football we made our way up to the aptly named “Business Centre” in the Hostel for our first official organizer meeting of the summit. The vast majority of the organizers at this year’s summit were participants or organizers at last year’s summit and Amy will be looking to the experience of this team to ensure that the first IDDS outside of MIT runs as smoothly as possible. Even among our small organizing team there is huge diversity with representatives from America, Britain, Malawi, Brazil, India and Ghana. There is even a solitary Irishman who, being perfectly honest, is still not exactly sure how he ended up here. In our first meeting we signed ourselves up for mini sub-committees to help make the work more manageable. The organization of Social Events, Orientation, Build Its, Publicity and Speakers being just a few examples of the huge number of little things that need to be done to make sure that IDDS runs without any major hitches. As always with IDDS, some over enthusiastic committee members had to be restrained from attaching themselves to too many committees and Amy imposed a limit of four or five for each of us.

Mid-way through the meeting we were interrupted by Miguel Chaves, a Brazilian organizer and participant at every IDDS since its inception, as he announced his arrival at the hostel with a enthusiasm laden scream of “IDDS”. He was also joined by the less abrasive Jessica Huang, a past participant and graduate from Berkeley University, and we quickly descended the stairs to the ground floor to welcome them into the 09’ family. We spent the evening cooking together (Sumit’s sensational Indian rice has to get a special mention here) before getting some sleep before what looks set to be a fairly action packed Monday.

Twi phrase for the day:
MadaaseThank You

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