Surviving an Academic Conference on Marxism.

Trip Start Aug 18, 2011
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Flag of Sweden  , Swedish Lakeland,
Friday, May 4, 2012

For one reason or another I volunteered to help staff an academic conference for my department. It was being put one of my professors and several of my classmates had also volunteered. The conference was something to do with Marxism and changing global trends in today’s social media. http://www.icts-and-society.net/events/uppsala2012/ 

 Pretty much it was three days of over educated people discussing common themes in technology using terminology that only those with PhD’s understand and droning on and one while I tried not to fall asleep for the third seminar in a row.Luckily I only had to suffer through a couple of seminars. 

 I mainly worked at the information booth outside of all of the lecture halls. I got pretty good at telling all of the PhD’s, that the way to the hidden rooms in the basement where the supplemental lectures were being held could be found by following the giant red arrows that were really hard to miss. Of course I was polite, because everyone was really nice, but seriously following the red arrows that had taken five people and an hour to put up was sort of a “duh!”

 There were some definite perks to working this. Mainly it was the food. Every time I worked I got to have free coffee/ tea with pastries, because Swedish conferences, like other events cannot happen without a large intake of coffee and sugar. Plus, without caffeine and sugar I do not think that the academics would have survived their colleges droning on for entire days. However, I always ended up being the one who dealt with the uppity girl from the cafeteria who supplied the coffee. The conference had ordered coffee with a certain number of people. However, there was still coffee left when the cups ran out, so I had to go and ask for more. The girl did not want to give me any, because the conference had only ordered for a certain number. My response was that there was still coffee left and we still needed the cups. What the heck did she care, the ten extra cups I was asking for were not coming out of her paycheck?! This happened multiple times. My opinion was that we paid for the coffee, not the cheap, buy by the thousand, paper cups, but the more expensive coffee, so since the participants had paid to be here, that we should serve the coffee and not quibble about cups. Finally, the last coffee break came and she just came and filled up every cup and then left, but there were fewer people so I was left with a bunch of cups that were going to go to waste. So when a bunch of students walked past I told them they could have the coffee and the extra cinnamon rolls. I was a hit with that class. My opinion is that girl should not be in charge of a mass coffee break, but stick to her day job of taking single coffee orders.

 The topper of the week was the final dinner, which I got to attend for free because I had been such an awesome volunteer. I had a mishap riding my bike with long flowing pants which got caught in the spokes. Luckily I nice passerby helped untangle them, and they did not even get a hole in them.

 The final event was a mini gasque, with all the singing included. However, the songs that were included were not picked by anyone who knew much about gasques, especially since most of those participating were not Swedish and had never been to a gasque. The gasque needed to be simplified, but it was actually really hard, andnot very well organized. Those of us who knew what to do tried to help, but when it came to a horribly long German song, that not even the Germans knew, we gave up on the singing. I just started the applause since by the second verse everyone had stopped because it was just too painful to continue this song. 

 The end of the gasque finished with the playing of ‘The Internationale,’ the anthem to the Soviet Union until WWII. What better way to finish a socialist themed conference than by watching a bunch of PhD’s standing up and sing this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suVB3YGIUk0.

 At the end of the song, one of the Americans got up and said that none of us could go home now.

 Unfortunately there will not be another conference like this next year, so I will not be able to volunteer again, but I would definitely do it again.
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