After winning the European Regional Undergraduate Award in the Nursing and Midwifery category, the University of Edinburgh were generous enough to offer to cover my expenses to attend the Global Summit in Dublin from 8th – 11th November. The Global Summit is a four-day event filled with a variety of activities for the winners of any award and those on the highly commended list. The four days were absolutely packed with exciting and thought provoking speeches and presentations taking place in some of the most beautiful locations in Dublin. Accompanied by an award presentation and gala dinner I was extremely impressed by the large scale and attention to detail especially in a programme still in its early years.
I flew in from Edinburgh on Tuesday morning and was greeted by fellow students who were volunteering at the awards this year. From the moment I arrived everyone was so welcoming, especially the UA team. The first day was mostly for mingling and meeting some of the other 100+ attendees from 121 universities and 40 countries all over the world. We had a brief introduction to the team and plan for the week after checking into what I definitely think could be a contender for the coolest hostel ever. This was followed by a tapas style dinner and a pub quiz (which I now know is known as ‘Trivia’ across the Atlantic).
The first day of the Summit consisted of 76 presentations. Yes, 76. How could that be? Well, they were all 3 minute summaries of other attendee’s presentations that got them here in the first place. As well as being an extremely international group, the summit is made up of students and graduates of all disciplines and while I didn’t necessarily understand the concepts behind each presentation (I’m looking at you, philosophy) I was constantly amazed by some of the work my peers had done. I felt extremely privileged to be a part of this group. In the evening the official opening ceremony took place in the nearby Smock Alley Theatre where we were given a delicious three course meal and listened to some extremely inspiring speeches from some of the head judges of the Undergraduate Awards.
Day Two: Colloquium day. This took place at Farmleigh House; a venue known for usually only opening its doors for foreign diplomats and political leaders such as President Obama. When I wasn’t distracted by the beautiful architecture and décor of the building, I was listening to more speeches and attending ‘breakout’ sessions with some of the colloquium speakers – these are half an hour time slots where we got to interact in small groups with each speaker to ask questions and get advice in how to succeed in their field. Prior to attending the summit, we were asked to read up about each of the speakers and put them in order of preference as we were only able to participate in sessions with four out of the 16 options. First we heard brief talks from. Stephanie Duhaime, Professor Brian Norton, Kris Nelson and Dr Thomas Tahko. We were given the advice that we should opt for sessions that are outside of our subject area so I chose those ran by Kris Nelson (Festival Director of the Tiger Fringe Festival in Dublin) and Martine Cuypers who’s topics of expertise are Greek epics and literature and public speaking. In addition to this she was the chairperson of the Transgender Equality Network Ireland. Although these were vastly different topic areas, both completely unrelated to Nursing, I felt like I was able to take something away from each of them.
The afternoon sessions were equally as excellent. The speakers were Dr. Rhona Mahony, Professor Ian Robertson, Kevin Roland and Rob Mather. The two breakout’s I went to were run by Dr. Mahony: an obstetrician and gynaecologist and CEO of the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin and Ruth Casey who is a lecturer in EU Affairs and Communications. Both sessions were extremely interactive. Reproductive health was the topic of my winning submission and a great interest of mine. We had a lengthy discussion surrounding ethics in reproductive medicine focused on the subject of genetically modifying embryos or so called “designer babies”. In the second session with Ruth we had a lively debate on the current political issues – Trump and Brexit. Although politics isn’t an area I know much about I was still able to voice my opinion and add to what had already been said.
That evening was the award ceremony and gala dinner. The ceremony took place in City Hall and the dinner in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The guest of honour at the ceremony was Dr Mae Jemison. If it wasn’t enough that she was a doctor who volunteered at a Cambodian Refugee Camp and with the Peace Corps in West Africa, was an astronaut with NASA and was the first black woman in space. If that’s not an impressive woman I don’t know what is! She delivered a powerful and thought provoking speech encouraging us to try, in whatever way we can, to make a difference in this world.
Only one day was left after of the black-tie events of Thursday Night. Friday’s activity was titled ‘UCollaborate’ which took place in Dublin’s Chocolate Factory (the name is misleading, there was no chocolate. Whatsoever). We were randomly allocated into 13 different groups, each one led by a previous winner of highly commended student from previous years. We were given the task to think of a problem in the world and come up with a solution. Having been assigned open ended questions throughout my entire time at university this seemed like an achievable and fun assignment. Although no one in my team had a background in education we decided, as a team, to try and solve the issue of the inequality in access to educations for children on a global level. After going off on several tangents we managed to come up with a strategy and full plan which we had to present in three minutes in the afternoon. It was a brilliant day and so interesting to hear the views of people from other countries.
The final night was the farewell party which was a brilliant night. It took place at the Newquay Co-op. Just like all our other host venues it was a really unique location and during dinner we heard a about the background of the food co-op and how it is trying to make good quality, organic food available to the everyday consumer and how these ingredients can be used to make healthy and wholesome food. The food was followed up by some live music from a traditional Irish folk music and some failed attempts at ceilidh dancing. I have had such an amazing few days in Dublin at the Global Summit and have met some truly extraordinary people: both who have already achieved great things and those that will go on to do so. I feel truly inspired.
I just want to end this post by encouraging everyone to consider entering themselves for the Undergraduate Awards this submission period (2016/17). I applied on a whim and ended up with a regional award, a trip to Dublin and new friends from all over the world.
Nursing Studies Student – Class 2013-2017