My little blue conference diary
April 27, Porto
Colder than I had expected it to be, jet-lag, and luggage lost in transit, couldn’t have asked for a better start to my Portuguese adventure. Icing to the cake: only an hour in Porto, before I leave for Viana do Castelo. So my travel buddy Nakul and I decided not to go the conventional way, and be as random as possible. After a quick, awkward lunch, we rushed to the station, only to hear “Hey AIESEC” from this Mexican Delegate. I knew the conference had already begun.
In the 1.5 hours train journey to Viana, we met GLC Delegates, most of them preparing their Introduction presentations to be used later that evening. Reminded me to prepare mine as well. My introduction was my (life) story of courage, which I couldn’t complete in the 2-minute time limit at the conference.
The walk from the Viana station to our hostel was a long one, long enough to get a good glimpse of the beautiful town. It led us to the conference venue, where we were welcomed by our respective Tribe hosts in nicest of ways. I learnt I was going to be a part of the Humanity tribe, whose color was (co-incidentally-my-favorite) blue!
Post the introductions, we moved into what was called Tribe Room. The tribe allocation had me wondering why I was put into this particular one, and not into Justice, Temperance, Transcendence, Courage, or Wisdom (if I had the choice, I would have put myself into Wisdom, for obvious reasons!). To my joy, every element of our tribe room was some hue of blue. In the first tribe space, we got to know each other, and some basic principles of being in a tribe. I was super excited to be in a tribe with an ex-MCVP, LCP, LCVP, and an MCVP Select.
Unfortunately, sleep won over all the conference excitement, and Day 0 came to a sudden end.
April 28, Viana do Castelo
After a hurried breakfast, we started Day 1 with Suarez from AIESEC International sharing an important story of his life with all of us. I left the plenary thinking how courage holds a different place in everyone’s life. What for me might be the most courageous act of my life, might be the simplest one for someone else. The story strengthened my belief that courage can only make my life better. I might not see the result today, but someday, I will.
To every delegate’s surprise, GLC did not have an Agenda like other AIESEC Conferences (do). It sort of hurt not to know when we would get our breaks throughout the day. But at Dey’s conference, none of questions could go unanswered. Not that we got the agenda, but we had the freedom to take a break whenever we wanted to! Also, no agenda because no sessions. Only spaces.
The rest of the day was about being with the tribe and answering vital questions about humanity, what it meant to each of the tribe members, and drawing a connect between humanity and what we do in AIESEC. We realized how our Leadership Development Model is a lot more than what we think it is. We understood how the LDM is the answer to every question that we have had about delivering experiences in AIESEC. From this, we moved to Biodanza, which was so much about being aware of my self, being grounded, and letting go of all my inhibitions. Days after this activity, I realized how free it feels if only I can take care of these three things in my day to day life.
The highlight of the day for me was the time when I broke bread with one of the tribe hosts, Joao, where we fed each other with our hands. He spoke of his Indian experience with utter excitement and bright eyes. He confessed how he liked eating at the roadside dhabas than any of the fancy hotels he stayed in during his visit to India. Whereas I fed him like a boss, he often struggled at using his hands to feed me back. We talked of our common love for Rome, and he shared his memories of the city. That’s when I told him, ‘I can never understand how you feel. I would be lying if I said I did. Maybe I can feel almost as much, but not exactly what you’ve felt. I hope I don’t ever be in such a situation in my life.’ This is when I thought to myself: I am never going to say ‘I understand’ if I don’t. The dinner ended with Joao finally able to feed me perfectly. Another mini-Indian experience delivered! I was the one who got more ultimately, be it the food, or the stories to hear.
Day 1 ended on a rather touristy and social note, with Dey taking us out post dinner, for something that a lot of delegates had been waiting for. And oh, my luggage arrived as well!
April 29, Viana do Castelo
Hot shower, clean clothes, good breakfast, and I was more than ready for today. Though I had missed the morning Tai Chi, I was happy I got good sleep. With an opening note from Suarez again, we moved into a rather unexpected space. Our tribe host Natalie decided not to say anything, for some reason. After minutes of trying to persuade her to speak, one of the tribe members decided to host a conversation. A few minutes later, all of us were asking each other random questions, which made us know each other a lot better. The space converged on all of us talking about Indian and Middle-Eastern weddings, and Natalie smiling at all of us. By the time she broke her silence, my tribe had already invited themselves to my wedding. This happy, fun conversation brought us so close, not just as a tribe, but as confidants, and friends with (serious) future goals!
After a one-to-one conversation hosting space, we were taken to this breathtakingly beautiful place, where we were left for a conversation not with someone, but ourselves. Although the wind there sent chills down my spine, it couldn’t really hinder my thoughts from taking the shape they wanted to. It was one of those few moments when I could feel my presence and it was the only thing I could think of. Nothing else mattered. It was at this place that I saw sunset for the first time in my life. Like, the sun setting for real!
As we climbed down dozens of steps from this place back to the city, we were super happy to find out what we were going to do next. It was Captain America time! If only I could explain how much I enjoyed telling my friends back in India that I was going to watch it already.
Nothing in GLC happens for no reason. Turns out, we need to pair up and use our take back from the movie to do something with our tribe tomorrow.
The day was as tiring as it was exciting. My partner and I decided to figure everything the next morning.
April 30, Viana do Castelo
Angelina and I chose a list of questions that we wanted to ask, before asking the big question. I was surprised how both of us had the same take back, despite having slept through parts of the movie. Turns out, the entire tribe had prepared to ask the same question, in different ways. ‘What would you choose: the people you love, or doing the right thing, even if it costs you those people?’
From planning & executing team activities (in tribes) for the rest of the delegates, to understanding from Dey how he makes conferences like GLC happen, our day closed with good dinner and closing tribe time.
On one of the days, each of us had the opportunity to share what we would do if made the King/Queen of the world for a day. And on another, each of the tribes had to clear the dining area & dishes after lunch/dinner. Such contrast. Much wow.
May 1, Viana do Castelo
Sugar cubes, hugs, goodbyes/See you at IC.
Time to look for some good Nata in Porto and beyond! :)
3 days of GLC, and a good share of memories and stories. The biggest lessons learnt: Listen with attention. Speak with intention. Honor the individuals around. Not just in AIESEC; in life.