Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rotation Interim - 55th IPSF World Congress, Bali Indonesia

Posted by Jeffrey Huang at Tuesday, September 01, 2009

International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF)

To give a little background on IPSF, my first involvement with the federation began last summer with its Student Exchange Program in Prague, Czech Republic where I worked in a local community pharmacy. I learned about the role a pharmacist played in the Czech health care system and the similarities and differences of their system compared to our own. Immediately following the exchange, I attended the 54th IPSF World Congress in Cluj-Napoca, Romania in which pharmacy students from over 30 countries were represented. The theme of the Congress revolved around counterfeit medications, where speakers from around the world traveled to conduct workshops, symposiums, and lectured on the growing problem. It also was fascinating to hear about the ways in which my student colleagues were involved in global health issues, and how their roles compared and contrasted with my own.

I returned home with a great desire to become more involved with IPSF and began applying for leadership positions in the federation. Whereas I began the 2009-2010 academic year the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy IPSF chapter liaison, I was recently appointed the Regional Relations Officer (RRO) for the Pan-American Region Office (PARO) of IPSF. In my new role, I promote IPSF throughout the North, Central, and South American regions, recruit new country memberships, as well encourage the involvement of existing IPSF members.

55th IPSF World Congress, Bali Indonesia

August 3-13, 2009

Rotation Interim

When the secretary general of IPSF, Mary Poon, asked me if I would be willing to serve on the federation's motions committee, I had just arrived in Bali after a 35-hour commute from Detroit , baggage still in hand. I blinked. “Yeah. I guess so. Sure.”

What I did not realize was that being on the motions committee for the general assembly was a huge responsibility, adding, as it did, about 30 hours of work on top of my responsibilities as the PARO RRO. I was already responsible for holding a two-and-a-half-hour workshop for the attending members of PARO helping to lead a discussion regarding the future of IPSF; and was later told that because the PARO chairperson was unable to attend the congress, I would be responsible for presenting the PARO annual report to the general assembly. This was going to be a challenge as I was only appointed to my position a few months previous.

Of course, everything works out in the end! Although my friends from the 54th IPSF World Congress were stumped at my reasoning in choosing to take on a much bigger workload this year, I was still able to find a balance between work and play. With the motions committee [photo below], Pedro Lucas (Portugal), Jin Chiong (Singapore), and I were able to work with the IPSF executive on pressing issues, such as the IPSF Membership status of Taiwan, in coordination with UNESCO regulations. My PARO workshop went great. We were able to map out a plan to strengthen our region and provide more value for our existing member countries. I helped lead a group of students that included representatives from Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Czech Republic on sensitive issues surrounding IPSF. My annual report to the general assembly gave a brief summary of the year and focused on the future of PARO, as discussed in the earlier workshop. Even with my added responsibilities, I was able to take off a full day for surfing; a Balinese massage; and roaming the local markets in Kuta with my international friends. All I had to sacrifice was (a lot of) sleep!

On a side note, here are two funny observations I would like to share:

Much of Asia, including Indonesia, cut their foods cut into smaller pieces as part of their dining culture. In contrast, Europeans almost always eat with a knife (right hand) and fork (left hand). So when there was only a spoon and fork on the table during the Congress meals, almost all the European students replaced the knife with a spoon to help them eat.

Also, students from around the world are generally taught British-English in their foreign language curriculum. Interestingly, they told me they really dislike this because they find British-English more difficult to understand than American-English. And British-English is not as applicable to Hollywood media as is its American counterpart. So even though the American accent is often ridiculed as sounding overly nasal, the foreign students I met claimed that the American accent is much easier to understand.

The Congress was a great experience, one that I look forward to each year. It’s amazing to meet students from around the globe — Kenya, Iran, Slovenia, Australia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Indonesia, and many more nations as well. Our commonality is pharmacy, but when you hear just how diverse pharmacy practice is around the world, every conversation becomes an educational experience.

I really hope to keep alive my ties with the students of IPSF and am determined to find a way to focus my pharmacy career endeavors on an international level. I would also like to thank the College of Pharmacy and newly established Center for Global Health in providing support to attend the conference. Viva la Pharmacie!

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