Ming Kanlongtham Damrongsoontornchai
1. What was your role in ISC66?
In the regular ISC years, the Academics are in charge of selecting the Table Chiefs, deciding the discussion format, and providing support to the Table Chiefs throughout the year. However, due to the peculiar circumstances this year, the committee has decided to transfer every in-person event to an online format instead, making the task of an Academics in-charge quite distinctive from the previous years. Instead of leading their own Tables in the Main Conference (which should have had taken place during Summer), the Table Chiefs were asked to prepare for the “ISC Online Events” which were held on different dates throughout May to August. The Academics helped Table Chiefs in planning for those online events, especially with the academic discussion segment. I joined some of the Online Events as a co-facilitator, assisting the Table Chiefs in leading the discussions. Since we were arranging an online conference for the first time of ISC’s history, many new challenges were facing us. We were not quite sure how to convey the essence of ISC to the participants who had joined us for the first time and virtually. Nevertheless, as a result of lively brainstorming and active collaboration of the team, we were able to give our participants some ideas of ISC despite a short encounter across the screen. In retrospect, I hope that we were able to cater to our participants' expectations when joining our programs and I truly hope that they enjoyed their experience with us despite the unusual arrangement. I hope that some of our participants will be inspired and encouraged and that they will come back to ISC again as a participant or, perhaps, a committee member!
2. What are the perks of being in your role?
The person in charge of the Academics works directly with the Table Chiefs. Since Table Chiefs typically come from all over the world, we were able to have a cultural exchange by being in touch with them. Not only are our Table Chiefs very inspiring and well-rounded, but they are also very passionate about a cause that they engage themselves in. Since these Table Chiefs are keen on discussing the topics that are not often brought up in daily lives, working with them enabled us to learn about new issues constantly. Working with the Table Chiefs and engaging in discussions with the participants allowed us the renewal of the academic innovations because we get to hear a multitude of opinions that may differ from our views from a variety of standpoints. Since the topics brought up in our online events come from a diversity of fields, I was able to learn more about the concepts that I was initially unfamiliar with, such as "Circular Economy" and "Open Data", etc. Furthermore, we also had the opportunity to meet specialists and exchange ideas with the people who have first-hand experience with the topic. It was a valuable experience for me to be in charge of Academics this year since I got to learn about many new things!
3. What was your most memorable / happiest experience of the last year?
Despite the difficult situation, I was delighted to hear positive feedback from the participants. At first, we were afraid that participants might not be able to gain the full experience of ISC since everything was conducted online, but we were so relieved to learn that our participants were able to participate in productive discussions and that they enjoyed being at our programs altogether.
4. On the other hand, what was the most challenging part?
The most challenging part for the Academics was preparing the online discussions. Since we had no chance of meeting with the Table Chiefs directly, the communications between the Academics and the Table Chiefs were not always easy, especially during the preparation stage. Some of our Table Chiefs were moving from country to country, making it difficult for us to keep in touch at times. However, we were able to overcome that obstacle by coordinating among ourselves and making sure that there was always somebody to cover in the absence of the person in charge. There were also many challenges for us during the actual events. During the Main Conference in the regular years, since we gather in person for the discussions, we could observe the facial expressions and body language during the conversation and adjust the pace according to the "air in the room". But since we are conducting all the sessions entirely online this time, it was sometimes challenging for us to grasp the expression and the responses of the participants. Some participants also encountered technical issues with the internet connection, so we were not able to hear their voices properly on some occasions. Therefore, although we tried our best to accommodate the online arrangement, our journey with the online events was not without an obstacle.
5. Please leave a message for the committee members of ISC67.
Although there are many uncertainties and peculiar arrangements again next year due to the unpredictability of the COVID-19, I hope that we will not be discouraged by the tough situation. Despite many impending challenges, there are a lot of things in ISC to cherish and learn about. Becoming a committee member is also a great opportunity for personal growth as you get to work with fellow inspired students from a variety of backgrounds. As the President, I hope that, as a committee, we can overcome the many challenges waiting ahead of us and that every each of us will cherish being a part of the ISC family! I look forward to new adventures with you!