Presentation Day: dedicated to Brian Megaw from River Valley

Today was D-Day for my presentation and I was awake at 5am revising slides and rehearsing. My luggage still hadn’t arrived and the idea of standing in front of an audience wearing 5-day-old, sink rinsed clothing wasn’t doing anything for my confidence.

Late last night a fellow B&B guest over heard my cries of frustration when the desk delivered the bad news - ‘they said tomorrow, the suitcase will be here tomorrow’ and enquired as to what had upset me. She then knocked on my door and in broken English offered me her wardrobe. The jeans were about knee height on me, but putting on a clean t-shirt was heaven. I definitely attribute some of the day’s success as directly proportional to my clean t-shirt. 

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The conference opened with a few welcome speeches from the big wigs in science communication. My crowd sourcing efforts even got a mention from the organizers!

Of course, as with most conferences, next up was a five piece band playing a set of amazing Brazilian music, and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t catch the name of the composer.  A panel on ‘social inclusion in science communication’ inherited this jolly and jiggling crowd, and the discussion that followed blew my mind.

The speakers were Elizabeth Rasekoala – executive director of African-Caribbean Network for Science and Technology, Alfredo Wagner – Federal University of Amazonas and Claudia Aguirre – Columbia. They all gave excellent and complex speeches, which you can check out in full here - http://softwarelivre.org/pcstbr/stream

The provocative moments came with questions from the audience with...

“Is science communication a ghetto for women?” – Elizabeth Rasekoala replied that it can be, and that you personally have to be doing it because it lights a fire in your belly. Otherwise you’re running the risk of doing it because it is the soft option.

“Is digital literacy a new standard for social inclusion in science communication?” – Elizabeth again, - she wasn't the only one replying, you just need to understand I have a huge talent crush on this woman - answered that the digital standard is to give a positive spin on science and that it is good because brings the young ones in. But, we need to understand science process, not just its novelties and if big brother is listening is it really a safe forum to explore and discuss science? Digital media also divides the haves and have-nots in terms of infrastructure and access to electricity.

The golden quote here is that social media can be considered...

intellectual masturbation, it feels good does not last very long and wont give life.
— Elizabeth Rasekoala

This wonderful and engaging woman made me realize that my slides featured ‘male and pale’ images to represent my characters in science. I cringed at myself from the audience and was forced to acknowledge the fact during my presentation.

I just have to say thank goodness the conference organizer is vegetarian and there was a feast of things I could actually eat!

It turns out that running a crowd sourcing campaign and tweeting at everyone listed in the programme makes you quite famous. I had people coming up to me in the bathroom saying “you’re the girl from the video who has come all the way from NZ.” A generous pledger pipped ‘its me’ and gave me a hug, and I was even interviewed for a blog on the crowd sourcing process.

The day culminated with at least 7 strong Caipirinha’s by the pool and such great conversations I was giddy with gesticulation and laughter.

Home to my pousada just before a downpour to find my luggage arrived.

This travelling translator needs some digesting time, today was a chocolate gateau of knowledge and I need a moment to appreciate just how amazing it was.