Aufia Espressivo is a Dental Student at the Universitas Gadjah Mada in Indonesia.
She attended the World Summit on Social Accountability in Hammamet Tunisia this April 2017. She was the only Indonesian student and it was her first international conference. The Student Network Organization asked her for feedback and to describe the experience.
One day in late January, I woke up to an email stating that my abstract has been accepted for TUFH Talks, something to which I am new. Before submitting the abstract, I was hopeless and had no idea if it would—really —be presented to an enormous number of people. Knowing about The Network: TUFH since 2015 from one of my lecturers, I have never managed to attend the previous conferences, due to tight schedule and financial constraint, until this year. I burst with excitement because of this great news.
My abstract was about a two-month-period of community work in remote area in Indonesia, which aimed to improve the quality, as well as to level up the local community awareness on the importance of health and education. Never have I ever thought if my small work would be very much appreciated. I did not expect anything at the conference owing to the fact that I only prepared myself to deliver a good talk and that was it. Getting to know more insightful friends and expand my network would be a bonus, I supposed, since I am not a sociable person.
To cut the long story short, I took long-haul flight to Tunisia. Having never been to any African countries, I was beyond contented. By the time I re-registered myself onsite, I noticed that this conference would be different, in a good way. The opening ceremony was definitely eye opening. Attending a conference is one thing, having a Nobel Peace Prize winner speaking right in front of me is another thing.
During the four solid days, I brought myself in as many workshops and plenaries as possible. There was no workshop that did not interest me. The heated discussions and inspiring speeches on creating socially accountable health and education institutions encouraged yours truly to further improve the status quo, not to mention that the discourse on achieving better accreditation system did open my eyes.
Since I was the only Indonesian student and this was my very first international health conference, it was quite difficult for me to blend in at first but I was warmly welcomed. I ran into many inspiring individuals, both students and healthcare professionals, at the summit who successfully encouraged me to work more on community projects.
Being a part of this huge event was utterly valuable to me because I was able to share knowledge and experience as well as to exchange ideas and thoughts about many health subjects, specifically on social accountability—an issue which is rarely talked about in my country. Aside of that, the conference gave me so much exposure to meet and discuss with important persons in the healthcare field on the matters we stand up for and it is incredible that we could talk to them face to face.
The beautiful view of Hammamet and the nice weather, despite cold, brought me to life after spending the last several months with a lot of tension and stress during clinical rotations. The cultural dinner and dance was very well organized, I had the chance to see every aspect of Tunisian culture from the dress, music, and even foods. I also found Tunisian building undoubtedly picturesque.
All in all, this summit offered me so many insightful thoughts about developing a socially accountable healthcare and education, equipped me to create better projects for health, opened my mind to broader healthcare topics and, furthermore, empowered me as a student. More importantly, the conference pointed out many obstacles that we currently face in order to create a healthier community and what we could do to address those problems. It was an extraordinary experience for my 20-years-old-self. I personally hope to have more conferences like this in the future and to encourage more Indonesian students to join this conference and network.
Aufia Espressivo; Dental Student, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia.