I and 3 colleagues had to present a short seminar on a public health topic today as part of our Masters program.
This is a map of Aboriginal language groups- we were interested in the very central area near Ayer's Rock.
We had 3 weeks made of 1 hour sessions in class and a few other times we organised ourselves. We were trying to fit in an itinerant university worker (me), a madly mixed lecturer/cross-platform postgrad student [who already has 2 PhDs], an ex- quality control officer from a vaccines manufacturer and a Chinese student who only arrived from Beijing a few days before the course started.We chose to design an intervention for petrol/gasoline sniffing in a remote Australian indigenous community and I think we had a pretty good idea of how to do this and what to consider. We had a bit of trouble dividing the task into 4 neat parts so that each person could speak for 5 minutes, but we thought we had managed it.
However, despite meeting repeatedly (or trying to), submitting all our “slides” to each other and allowing editing so that it all hung together, we didn't manage to have any impression on our Chinese member. She's as bright as a button, but her spoken English is very hard to understand and we're never sure if she understands what we tell her. Well we found out DURING the presentation! She hadn't attended any of the get togethers in the last week when we refined and pruned the talk- but she happily emailed her contribution back and forth and we made suggestions and shortened her part from 10 slides to 5. I had several talks with her about why we didn't think certain parts needed emphasising and how to slant her bit so it fitted with the rest… but, ohs noes, when she came to present, she got to the second slide and discovered it was “her” 3rd slide (according to our editing!!). Well- what does she do?- she goes back off the computer in the classroom, gets her own memory stick and changes what she is presenting to her own old version- saying “no is wrong, is missing”. And on she went, giving the talk she had decided on 3 weeks ago, with all ten slides and getting it all up the creek! Well- we just had to cope- but it created a swathe of extra things we had to say, and we went way over time, explaining where her facts and figures weren't quite what she claimed- oh bugga- what a mess! Anyway, we struggled to the end and everyone wanted to rush home because it was cold and dark- so , there it all was. Phewffff! I need a rest!