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Conference wrap-up #1: International flavor

March 10, 2008

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent last week at a small research conference in Tierra del Fuego.

The first aspect of the meeting I wanted to post about is neither the science nor the field trip … rather, it is about the international-ness of the meeting.

There were about 40 people at the conference … and about 12 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Trinidad, India, Indonesia, Canada, United States, England, Scotland, Australia, and Norway.

Although the conference was held in Argentina, the talks, posters, and overall scientific discourse was in English. I was thinking about how difficult it would be for me to give my talk in Spanish if I had to … but then, I was also thinking that I would get so much better at another language so much quicker if I was forced to learn it.

After only attending much bigger meetings in the States, I was very happy to interact with such an international crowd. This might not be a new thing for some of you, but it certainly was for me … in fact, I was only one of two participants from the United States.

Although the scientific discussions were very integrated, when it came time for socializing in the evenings, participants did tend to naturally subdivide into language/cultural groups. I usually ended up having drinks and dinner with those from the other failed British colonies (hee hee). We did have one big group dinner, which was tons of fun.

One of the outcrops we visited is the subject of an Argentinian PhD student who didn’t speak English fluently. So, he would talk about the rocks and his adviser translated for everybody … it worked pretty well. I know a little spanish and he knew a little english so we were able to communicate fairly well. At one point, however, we had a Brazilian translating my English into Spanish and vice-versa, all while trying not use his native Portuguese! Impressive.

Stay tuned for a couple more posts about this conference in the coming week.


One Comment leave one →
  1. KAtie permalink
    February 25, 2009 5:34 am


    I have to write a research paper for my university about the geopolitics of waterways and other such things.
    I chose to discuss pantagonia and Ushuaia and the case between chile and argentina about this.
    I came across your website on a search.
    I was wondering whether you might be able to tell me a little more about the content of the conference or refer me to somewhere else I might find information on this conference?

    Kind regards,
    Katherine Donaghy

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