Each year, MEDA hosts its annual convention, Business as a Calling. I had the opportunity to attend this year's events in Niagara Falls, Ontario from November 1-4, 2012. I was excited to learn more about MEDA, contribute to work behind-the-scenes, and meet some of our supporters.
I arrived with the rest of the Marketing team on October 31 to help with registration preparation and logistics. It was a great to be able to meet face-to-face the staff I had been corresponding and working on projects with.
My primary role at convention was to publicize what was happening at the MEDA convention and try to get attendees to engage on our social media platforms. I also assisted with taking photos and doing behind-the-scenes work as needed. Overall, I think attendees (and those unable to attend) responded well to our tweets (#MEDACon2012) and enjoyed our status and photo updates via Facebook.
The convention launched on Thursday evening with a staff dinner followed by a desert reception and keynote speech from author Jeff Van Duzer, the dean and professor of business law and ethics at Seattle Pacific University. He provided great insight into the connection shared between business, ethics, and faith.
Friday morning I enjoyed listening to seminars on various MEDA projects, which allowed me to learn more about our work in other countries. In the afternoon, I sat on the intern panel for the "A Day in the Life of a MEDA Intern" seminar to provide insight into my internship experience. I was joined by other past and current MEDA interns - it was great to see such interest in the program. Following that, I was one of the presenters for the "Social Media for Social Justice" seminar, which gave light to MEDA's social media approach, our current successes and room for improvement, along with tips and tricks all social media users should abide by. I thoroughly enjoyed presenting the material and answering questions to help businesses, organizations, and professionals improve their social media outlets.
Friday evening was the highlight of convention for me; the focus was on our projects in Pakistan. The atmosphere was set with Pakistani music, traditional food from Pakistan, and encouragement to dress in a shalwar kameez. I was excited for the opportunity to wear one (shown above) - they are extremely comfortable and I love the colourful designs. After dinner, Helen Loftin, MEDA Director of Women's Economic Development, gave a great keynote speech on the work MEDA is doing in Pakistan. The evening was topped off with a speech from Ramzan Buriro, Manager of Engro Corp in Pakistan and a skype conversation with two of our clients in Pakistan. My heart was touched when one of them (who had been practicing her English) said "I am happy" - you could see her joy in both what she said and the feeling behind it.
On Saturday, I attended the AGM which was well attended and provided a good reflection in to all MEDA has accomplished in the past year. For lunch, I was lucky to lead a tour to the Skylon Tower and was able to see some great views of the falls. I really enjoyed the chance to talk closely with MEDA supporters and board members at my table as their passion for MEDA's mission and projects shined through.
In the afternoon, I attended additional seminars on international development. The day concluded with another keynote speaker, this time it was Barbara Stegemann, CEO of the 7 Vitues. She shared with the audience her story of how a friend inspired her to create perfumes that improve local economies in developing countries and try to bring people of different cultural backgrounds together.
The convention concluded on Sunday with a keynote speech from Susan Schultz Huxman, president of Conrad Grebel University College, on the role youth play in the future and a performance by the Conrad Grebel Chamber Choir.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first MEDA Convention experience - it was worthwhile to learn more about MEDA and engage with current supporters. I felt very privileged to be in a room of over 600 people who all share the same passion for MEDA's mission, joy for the success of current projects, and excitement for the positive future impact MEDA will have.