Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 4: Last and Final Day

Day 4 was kind of an add on to the conference. The morning was free until 2pm. In the morning I was able to visit the Gold Souk, several metro stops away. Basically it was a little section of town where there is more gold than anyone can imagine. They were selling it left and right. It was quite intense. A couple of us wandered through there a bit. I bought this really cool beaded shoes made from camel. Didn't quite have the means to by any gold jewelry. We made our way back to the hotel where we got on the buses for a tour of Abu Dhabi. The tour basically included visiting one of the biggest mosques in the world. They dressed us appropriately, we took off our shoes, and visited the male and female prayer rooms. It was quite interesting visiting the mosque, I have never been to one. We got a personal tour of it including some background information and what they are using it for today. Everyone comes twice a year to pray, it can hold 22,000 people. They also hold educational sessions for children. After that we made our way back to the Emirates Palace, we are quite the regulars haha. At the palace, there was a charity event going on called Small World. It featured 29 different countries in which everyone had their own booth with information on their country and traditional food. I can proudly say I visited each booth and tasted all 29 different countries foods. The US was represented with a lemonade stand and brownies and homemade chocolate chip cookies haha. The embassy asked people living in Abu Dhabi to come represent their country. It was quite interesting and awesome because the people were actually from their country. Some big names were invited and if it hadn't been for my exhaustion I would have had my game face on trying to network...however I had no clue who these people were. There was also a nice show with each country doing their specific dance. We only saw a few of them as we had to leave to go back to Dubai. The palace once again featured fireworks of gigantic proportions as well as an amazing light show. They really do go all out. The Sheikh was once again present. This wonderful world cultural event served as a nice and appropriate ending to a fantastic journey I have had in Dubai. It is not over however, today I shall be attending a desert safari. My last blog shall be about this adventure. Stay tuned.

Day 3

Day 3 was filled with workshops we signed up for. I signed up for social outreach and the healthcare workshop. The day started off though with a couple more speakers. Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence president of Raytheon Missile Systems spoke to us about his company an gave us some inspiring words as well. The are the largest missile company in the world however are working on an actual iron man suit that could potential be used by the military or in certain work forces. After him Magnus MacFarlane Barrow from Scotland spoke to us about his organization he created called Mary's Meals which is feeding primary school students all over the world food at school so they will go and stay in school and keep them out of poverty. After him a 13 year old spoke to us named Adora from the U.S. She is amazing! She has published two books and has soo much to say. She spoke to us about how much young people have to offer..she was so right and so intelligent if it wasn't for the box she was standing on to reach the podium I would have forgotten a 13 year old was speaking to us. They gave out awards for the top papers in each category after that. No I did not win but that was to be expected, there were so many awesome papers being presented! The presenters did however, all receive free laptops. So now I have another nice Thinkpad, a little nicer than the ones Wake gives us so after its programmed two year life span I shall use this free one I got. The workshops we attended were really neat, we had two speakers at each and then plenty of time for a question and answer session. The first workshop, Social Outreach was put on by Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of the British Council who spoke to us about the difference between communication and conversation. How do we really understand culturally what people mean by a set of words? Next Helen Stacy, a lawyer and senior Fellow at Stanford University spoke to us about her passions and practices reaching out to people who are affected by human trafficking, drug trafficking etc. She also is proposing an idea that I personally love which is to implement human rights into the education curriculum. The healthcare workshop was put on by Antonio Rendas, dean of the medical school in Portugal and Dr. Scott D. Stern of Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago. They gave us tips for leadership and also some solutions to the problems in medical education. A very interesting day. The afternoon we had free so I was able to take a breather and then head to the street festival at the Dubai Marina. It was interesting to see all the different kinds of food they were serving. I feel like Dubai has a mixture of different cultural foods. It does have its traditional middle eastern food but incorporates food from around the world very regularly. At the festival it was cool to just people watch. Literally every single person was speaking a different language but they all seemed to come together to watch the UAE and Pakistan soccer match. Soccer always unites the world haha. It was a fun evening out enabling me to see more of Dubai and more of the culutre and I was able to get a bit more sleep that night.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Paper Presenters.

Emirates Palace lit up for our entertainment.

More Emirates Palace.
131 Countries represented at the Conference.

The auditorium in which I gave my presentation.

Day 2

Day 2 was the best day ever. I woke up a bit early to go over my presentation one last time. I have been averaging about 5 hours of sleep each night since I've been here. Hopefully tonight will be better! Anyway, the day started out at the Dubai Men's College where we heard from the leader of the Amazon Conservation Team. Following him we heard from CNN Hero Evan Wadongo who started a program using solar lamps from completely recyclable material so children in Kenya can complete their studies. This was particularly incredible because I had watched the awards being given to the 2010 CNN Heroes. He left us with an amazing quote, "education isn't about what you know, education is about what you do." I whole heartedly believe in this quote. One can learn so much but it really means nothing if you don't do anything with your knowledge. Robert Swan also spoke to us, he is a traveler and explorer of Antarctica. He is the only man who has walked across pole north and south poles and is now leading trips of youth down there to help protect and conserve Antarctica. The student presenters were next. There were three different time slots so we chose which ones we wanted to hear. I heard presentations rangining from "Peace Education as a Tool for Conflict Resolution in Africa" to "A Framework of the International Humanitarian Disaster-aid Mechanism" to "The Increasing Water Crisis in the North West Province of Pakistan." All very interesting, engaging, and inspiring. We then heard from another CNN Hero Anuradha Koirala from Nepal who created the organization called "Maiti Nepal" in which she helps resuce trafficked women and children in Nepal and South Asia. After here we heard from Faith Act Fellows from the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and they as well as all the others delivered a very inspiring message. My presentation went well in the huge and intimidating auditorium. The actual presentation should be online somewhere but I don't think it is up quite yet. I received three very interesting questions from the audience that I was able to answer and several comments that they think it is a great idea and loved my presentation. Overall it went very very well and I was honored to have been selected. We found out the final numbers, 3500 people applied, 750 papers were submitted, 6000 are attending the conference with 36 paper presentations. So again truly honored to have been chosen as a delegate and even more as a presenter. We then got changed for the gala dinner and were transported to Abu Dhabi, about a little over an horus drive. We all looked very stunning in our semi formal/national dress. The gala dinner took place at the Emirates Palace which is absolutely gorgeous and was decorating from the drive up with EWB flags. There is so much gold in that palace it is ridiculous. They even have a gold atm. You can put your card in and it will dispense gold. The gala dinner was beautiful it was on the deck of the palace overlooking the water. Again we were amazed by great performances with all different cultural dances and singers as well as another inspiring speech by the Sheikh with the American CNN reporter here in Abu Dhabi as our host. I was able to dip my feet in the Persian gulf, shake the Sheikh's hand on the red carpet, engage in conversation with the a world reknown plastic surgeon, and try a different appetizer dip from every continent. We returned to the hotel after 1am.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 1

One word: incredible. The day started with a special orientation to the Dubai Men's College of Higher Technology. We presenters had an orientation there to see where exactly we will be presenting. Of course I am in the room that seats 500+ the massive auditorium instead of the other three locations that seat 100. Am I nervous? Nooo not at all... I have met so many amazing people thus far. My roommate is a graudate student studying in Amsterdam but is from Moldova. I have met several students who have developed their own NGOs, financial organizations, etc. Everyone is very accomplished and still very interesting in what you have to say and what you are doing with your life. Regular orientations continued as I continued to meet amazing people. The main event of the day was the opening ceremony which took place in the evening at the base of the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building in the world. The opening ceremony was breathtaking. It included an address by the Sheik, cultural dancing, a representation of what EWB is all about, singing, and fireworks. The stress of the opening ceremony was pointing out the importance of 131 nationalities being represented sitting next to each other and listening to what one another has to say. It's all about crossing those barriers of communication, finding innovative solutions, and coming together across cultures to face our global challenges. Admittedly, tears were streaming down my face as they continued to talk about the signifcance of such a coming together. The male graduate student from Canada sitting next to me was taken over by similar surprising emotions. Never have I been so proud and honored to be sitting exactly where I was at that moment. Pictures are to come tomorrow after the stress of my presentation is over.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I have arrived!

After my 15 plane ride, I have arrived! Several other students were on my flight from Atlanta to Dubai including some students from Mexico. The city is great! It's like Las Vegas but better. Everything is in Arabic and English and everyone has been so welcoming. The other students seem great as well and I am eager to meet more of them. I am in an apartment style hotel room that accommodates two but I currently don't have a roommate. We shall see if one arrives tomorrow. I haven't been able to see much of the city only what I've seen from my bus ride to the hotel but the sites are amazing. We passed by the Burj Khalifa, the highest building in the world, I saw the famous sailboat looking hotel from afar and the purple light up replicates of the chrysler building. I have a great view from my apartment on the 36th floor. Tomorrow will be an early morning full of orientations and opening ceremonies. I have a special orientation of where I will present and such. The opening ceremony will be towards the evening tomorrow at the Burj Park. There may be a little free time tomorrow afternoon to explore the city a little. I shall keep everyone posted.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


So I have decided to create a blog about my upcoming trip to Dubai. I leave Saturday evening from Greensboro and will be in flight for a total of 16 or so hours. I am missing a week of classes to attend this conference called Education Without Borders. It's a biennial conference in which students around the world attend to discuss innovative solutions to some of our world's greatest challenges.

I submitted an entrepreneurial idea to enhance my application titled: Implementation of tuberculosis treatment support programs: a culturally conscious approach. The conference committee I suppose decided that they liked my proposal so much that they wanted me to present it. So now I am one of 30 other presenters in a conference of around 1,000 in attendance.

Haven't created my powerpoint presentation yet still trying to wrap up some things with my classwork here. I have informed all of my professors I will be out a week and most of them have been very willing to work with me. I'm pretty excited but I don't think its quite sunk in yet. To be finished before I leave: one exam, a group project, another group project, a proposal for a stipend, and of course I still need to pack.