This weekend, I was invited by the 1020 District of Rotary to attend their annual conference in Aviemore. It was a gathering of Rotarians from across southeastern Scotland and I was able to meet many wonderful people. As it goes with Scottish culture, everything was very welcoming and conversations with strangers became conversations with friends very quickly.
A highlight of the weekend had to be the Scotland autumn. We had an afternoon to explore the area around Aviemore, and it was brilliantly beautiful, albeit a bit chilly.
I was not the only Rotary scholar present at the conference, as there are two others who are in Edinburgh doing a Masters in Public Health course. It was a pleasure to get to know them better in addition to some of the Rotaract members in Edinburgh. While we discussed a variety of things, we focused a bit on how we envision ourselves affecting change in the world through both our professions and in our volunteer time.
The speakers at the conference came from some fascinating backgrounds. One that was of note to me was Shelter Box who provides shelter and tools for victims of disasters (both natural and human-made). An aspect of their mission that resonated with me was how thorough their evaluation process was before distributing their resources. They would ensure that the resources that they provided would be used in the appropriate manner, in addition to not creating any other adverse consequences that is a pitfall of many development of relief programs.
Some primary themes of the conference were to “think differently” and focus on partnerships. These are two messages that I hope to carry forward in the way in which I pursue my research. While problems have been solved in a similar manner for many years, the pace of change in the world is requiring society to constantly evolve in their way of thinking. While I strive to be a lifelong learner, I must also recognize the importance of learning how to think in different paradigms and not only gain or develop new knowledge. And while thinking differently can come from the individual, it is accelerated much faster when in partnership with individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds. Advancements in scientific thinking benefit from partnerships, especially across disciplines. When trans-disciplinary approaches are taken, problems can be solved more thoroughly and efficiently and something I plan to continue bringing into my professional life.