Sunday, 19 July 2015

BIMming, Part One

Building, Integrating, Motivating Through Service

A little over a month ago, I went to Barbados for a week. On four of the seven days, I participated in the 29th Annual Rotaract District 7030 Conference.

I admit that I was a bit skeptical about this year’s Conference given some last minute notices, impersonal and tardy email responses, and the non-existent vibes. I mean, that newsletter had, like, no personality! But, having spent time, energy and monies in preparation for the trip, I had to pull up my big-boy boxer-briefs and approach the entire experience with an open mind. My approach worked as I thoroughly enjoyed Conference and didn't allow any of the negative goings-on to affect me much.

Enough rambling. Read, enjoy, comment and come back again.

Training Sessions, an Assembly and PDG Elwin

This year's District Assembly wasn't a drawn out affair. Quick was the word from adopting the minutes to Director’s reports to paying District dues to voting. I didn't fall asleep this year and that’s a huge compliment.

Then, there were the actual training sessions. These were spread over a three-day period. My brain wasn't saturated with too much information at the end of any given day, which meant a less lethargic and more enthusiastic Garvin all around.

I loved that Rotaractors from those Clubs that were exemplar throughout the District facilitated most sessions. It gave a "if they could do it, so could my club" vibe to the proceedings, which was appreciated. And it was nice to learn about other clubs and the methods they employed to successfully plan and execute their projects.  

On the last day of training, my club turned facilitators. We were asked to present on planning the inaugural District Leadership Training 2014. (As it turns out, there’s a draft about DLT that I never got around to posting….) There was an ice-breaker activity that involved balloons, markers and the moniker, “Chocolate Thunder”. I was proud to stand together with my club and address our peers, and actually have them participate, ask questions and show genuine interest. Even the one guy nodding off at the 45-minute mark didn't faze us.
After his presentation on the very first day, I wanted nothing more than to shrink PDG Elwin and put him in my shirt pocket. Don't worry, it's totally normal, especially when I really admire someone. Anyway, he was able to put so much of his fun personality into his discussion on the relationship between Rotary and Rotaract without it devolving into a bad comedy show. He maintained the seriousness of the topic and his message. I left with a better understanding of the Rotary-Rotaract dynamic and the responsibility of both parties in sustaining the relationship. I tend to reference his points whenever the opportunity presents itself.

A Sprinkle of Sugar, Oistins by One, Otherworldly Harrison and The Jolly Roger

The Outings & Fellowship Limes are a staple at any Rotaract gathering, and this year didn't disappoint.

There was Sugar Ultra Lounge on Thursday night. We danced to every genre of music, and yours truly, spilled his drink on some girl in a denim jumpsuit. Oops! After apologizing and giving her my cutest of smiles, she stalked off, cursing my very existence. How rude!

We hit up the fishing village of Oistins on Friday; people, sheds and BBQ fish galore! I had the dolphin, which reminded me of the time I cried during Free Willy, a movie about a whale. And because Rotaractors train hard and party harder, they just had to take over de people dem pavement and stage, where they sang, among other ditties, ‘Like Ah Boss’ at the top of their lungs.

On Saturday afternoon, we went spelunking at Harrison’s Cave. We didn't actually crawl around a cave system on our knees with pick-axes and helmet lights. Instead, we were treated to a 30-minute tour in a tram. Although I fell asleep during the informational video (I had just eaten), I made sure to stay awake for the actual tour.

My God, inside the Caves were magical! The twisted limestone formations, stalagmites and stalactites, underground streams and waterfalls, eerie, unnatural lighting and drip-drop from the cavernous ceiling gave the Caves an otherworldly feel. I was reminded of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies. I whispered improvised tales of elves, dwarves and other mythical creatures. Thranduil rolling up on his reindeer would have been the only thing that would have made the experience better.
Saturday evening was reserved for the pirate-themed Theme Party. The Conference Committee had promised that their Theme Party would be different. And did they ever deliver on that promise! 

We were hosted on The Jolly Roger, a decent remake of an actual pirate ship. The boat rocked to and fro in tandem with the movement of the water and the music on board. We also had to buy our own food and drink. The latter created a rippling effect all over social media in the days leading up to Conference; the statuses and comments were both malicious and hilarious, some more than others. Sigh, Rotaractors and food. 

Neither stopped the revelry though. If anything, the alcohol flowed more freely. Or was it vibes? Either way, the jammin’ and winin' were too real considering that you had to hold on to ropes and banisters to avoid falling overboard or accidentally damaging somebody girl-chile from your pelvic thrusts. I mean, a private album was necessary. And that’s all I’m going to say about that!
A cross-section of the crowd. Those to the left holding on for dear life!
In Love with the Coco(a)

I've often questioned the necessity of having an early morning Community Service activity after the Theme Party. With this in mind, I turned up to this year’s activity, “Row for a Cause/Rotaract Village” dehydrated and with a pounding headache. Never being one who enjoys going to the beach, I settled for sitting under a tent, bottled water and good spirits in tow, to talk with visitors to our table about RC Sangre Grande and sell them some Sangre Grande-produced cocoa.

Before long, we were dared to sing, ‘we in love with the coco’ to everyone. The darer promised to buy a huge bar of cocoa. Always ready for ridiculousness, I stood up on a chair, and with my fellow members supporting me, sang the refrain, even adding, ‘no Milo’ at the end. Our audience was very appreciative.

Somehow, I eventually found myself on the beach, which I regretted after fending off seaweed and toppling over in a canoe. As with most things, the afternoon ended with music and a good, ole-fashioned lime on the beach.
Where’s my Wallet?

Everywhere I go I try to be myself. Sometimes that means dour silences, accidentally burning pants and shoes, and leaving half-eaten mints on my bed. Other times, it means marching to the beat of my own erratic, sassy, happy-go-lucky, inappropriate drum, which tends to get me in trouble. So, at every Closing Ceremony, in addition to the awards (My Club and President were both recognized) and food (Surprise! Macaroni pie is on the menu), I look forward to the reveal of the Sergeants-At-Arms and their charges.
Before the Sarges revealed themselves
This year, I was charged for drinking water from that waterfall in Harrison’s Cave. In my defense, the tour guide said that it was pure, natural, spring water and drinkable. Translation: “Go ahead, have a drink, Garvin!” Surprisingly, my club and I were charged for singing, ‘we in love with the coco(a)’ much to the amusement of the Rotarian that had dared us. I paid up again for ringing the bell on the bus after the Theme Party, and for posing in a photo with the hash-tags: #SupposedToBeInDistrictAssembly #ButNot with two other Rotaractors that appeared on Facebook.
Other Blog-worthy Moments

The journeys to and from our various destinations were memorable. On the one hand, the drivers tended to weave through traffic, swerve dangerously and approach roundabouts with wanton speed. Passengers cheered and screamed in the same breath. One girl was even reduced to tears. On the other hand, no trip was complete, unless you were on the “boring” bus, without singing, shouting, stamping, pounding, bell-ringing etc. Those buses were definitely an added bonus to the weekend’s proceedings.

Some members of the Conference committee and other Rotaractors from Barbados truly went above and beyond to make us feel welcomed and accommodated. I saw some familiar faces and met new ones. Your pleasant dispositions made up for the revolting attitudes of the Grumps and Rudeieshas that were moping around, watching you cut-eye. So, thank you.

For the Opening Ceremony, I wore a kurta top, which was borrowed, iridescent and fancy. Suriname’s cultural presentation was phenomenal. I’m still waiting to be named an honorary Surinamese. Also, I had no idea Absolut vodka came in so many different flavours. Now I do!
The training booklets, in addition to being austere, included common Bajan proverbs. I read through these riveted, drawing similarities and differences to common sayings I've heard in Trinidad and Colombia. Some of my favourites: ‘If blackbird fly wid pigeon he will get shoot’, ‘Common dog does bark in Church!’, ‘When yuh en get horse, ride cow’, ‘Two poor cow does make good dung’ and ‘Yuh can’ put mongoose tuh watch chicken’. There’s also a website. Thanks, Kavan.

Someone stole the bumper sticker I bought from Club FRESH at the Community Service activity. Whoever you are, may your car go down in a deep pothole.

Conference was four days well-spent. Thanks everyone for your hard-work.

That's all. Part Two will be posted in a week or so. Thanks for coming, and do come again. Chao.