On the Ground and On the Panel
It was a little unnerving watching the other panels going on, at least at the start, because each speaker spoke at length on a topic that they had been involved in for several years. At least it was unnerving for me because I had my own panel to talk on – one regarding diabetes. I certainly did not have enough experience, or perhaps enough knowledge to deliver a speech as long as the ones I had seen – so it got me thinking – why should someone as young as me be on a panel of experts?
The answer, of course, was all around me. Wheelock College has always been heavily involved in youth engagement and development and it seemed that it was a community that emphasized that youth should take charge, or at least take responsibility as soon as they could. So then it wasn’t a matter of how much experience I had (though it is always necessary to have considerable experience on any topic you wish to present about) – but rather the nature of that experience – my job wasn’t to talk about the last 20 years of work I had done in the field, it was about what I saw from where I was “on the ground” as a medical student from Qatar.
It is always a privilege and a great opportunity to speak at a panel, because you’re always challenged. I imagine that even for an expert, there’s so much they have to cull out of the work that they’ve done so that they can send a distilled, coherent message that is simple enough to appeal to a general audience, but retains the intricacies of all their hard work. In my case, it was the challenge of accruing enough knowledge to be able to relate to, converse with and react to the comments of my co-panelists in a way that puts an individual message across without diluting their own.
But perhaps the most important part is when the audience get involved, because that’s when you learn the most. In my panel I felt lucky to have an audience that were willing to ask questions and to share stories – it makes things easier for us as panelists, but it also adds another dimension. I had a similar experience on the youth panel the next day. It was particularly humbling for me that the audience contained older members who were perfectly content with supporting us in our cause, and voicing their agreement with our opinions, suffice to say, both panels were good experiences.
Unfortunately I could not spend longer at Wheelock, but I managed to attend a few sessions and speak at two panels, and that was enough to show me what Wheelock has to offer. There were friendly faces all around and the campus halls echo with the values that the college hold dear; fostering youth development, creating leaders & community developers and most importantly, teaching us how to learn from ourselves and from each other.
About the Author: Ahmad Almeer is a panelist speaker on the panel, Diabetes – the Silent Worldwide Epidemic. This ties in with his medical interests in the public health field. In addition, he is very intrigued by human rights issues as well as different methods of learning and teaching. He is very interested in the talks that took place on the first day, believing they would discuss innovative ways to enact learning and teaching, particularly in the information-based 21st century where learning is now a contribution from many outside sources.