By Dr John Abraham, TBA Alumni – Kibale, 2004
From inception, to organisation to implementation; Ghanaian Alumni, Dr John Abraham, reflects on the experience of organising the latest TAAG African Students’ Conference which took place in June. Read on…
I remember sitting at my desk in my apartment in Italy writing e-mails as far back as October, 2013 asking members of the Ghana TBA Alumni Group whether they felt we should bid to host the 2015 TAAG African Students’ Conference on Conservation Science. At that moment, my individual interest did not matter because we are a group. Thankfully, every member said YES! Let’s go for it. The hard work began from then.
A small team put the bid together and in January 2014, the good news arrived “…we are happy to inform you that your group, the Ghana TBA Alumni Group won the bid.” I jumped with excitement from my desk in jubilation. I made a few telephone calls to the people who helped with the bid before writing e-mails to inform all members of the Ghana TBA Alumni Group. We were very proud to have won this bid.
An intimidating prospect
Organising a conference can be quite an intimidating prospect, and for many of us who had never been at the forefront in putting together one, we quite didn’t know where to start. There are always several factors to consider such as fundraising, venue, publicity and speakers. Being behind the scenes, it was fascinating to see the interest we received from the abstract submissions, the miracle of bringing together big names in conservation and of course, the challenges we experienced in our fundraising efforts. Our resolve was strong, and we rallied together to ensure that any bumps we encountered were swiftly addressed.
A lasting achievement
For the Local Organising Committee (LOC), we had a rare opportunity of visiting the residence of His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, a former president of the Republic of Ghana and a current United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Change. Can you imagine being in the residence of such a man to have a chat about a conference and invite him? It was a nice experience!
Yes! he responded to our invitation, graced the event, and as a result, we now have access to him and his foundation, the John Agyekum Kufuor Foundation (JAK foundation), providing TAAG with a great opportunity for future collaborative work.
Moreover, in our fundraising bid, we made contact with organisations like the African Academy of Sciences, United Nations Development Programme, ProForest, Elsevier publishing company and many others. These connections provide great conversation starters for future TAAG conferences.
The conference itself was a big success! We had a magnificent opening ceremony with high level attendance, two insightful workshops, three inspiring plenary talks, student talks and posters on various aspects of conservation science. Three days of intensive conservation discussions attended by 106 participants from 13 different countries made this a great and lasting achievement. Thank you to all who participated and contributed into making the conference a great event. Indeed, the success is worth the effort!