An ode to teamwork

An ode to teamwork

I recently had the opportunity to be a small part of a big event. I felt so good about it that I had to write this piece. This event, The Indian Speech and Hearing Association’s annual conference brought several people together. They worked hard towards a common goal with no desire for individual glory and once again proved that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Like all other conferences, this one was also for professional development but for many of us, it was also time to meet friends and celebrate. Speech pathologists and audiologists — those who study and treat all kinds of communication disorders — are few in number. This makes it possible to form personal connections and feel like a part of a big family. It also makes it easier to rally people for a big event.

Preparations for the conference began months in advance. Committees were formed and WhatsApp groups created. We met frequently braving the Bangalore traffic and bonded over cups of coffee. “The scientific topics should cover the entire gamut of the field, the speakers should be inspiring,” the scientific committee desired. “We should go green, no plastic bottles, no plastic files, only e-posters,” the eco-warrior of the organising committee declared.

The fundraisers were struggling to raise money, the cultural committee was finalising on the evening entertainment. I was part of the publicity team and even learnt to tweet. Despite hectic work commitments, people made time for conference work.

Some of my classmates were invited speakers at the conference and I was very happy to see the heights they had reached in their careers. That we were all staying together like during good old college days added to the anticipation.

And when D-day finally arrived, excitement reached a feverish pitch.

“The teachers among the audience, stand up please!” said the affable chief guest. Curious, they complied, only to be told, “I have waited over 50 years to say “stand up” to teachers!” We all burst out laughing and I felt that the conference had got off to a good start.

The next three days saw a flurry of activities. We dashed from one hall to another listening to eminent speakers, learning about the latest research, admiring the confident presenters and cribbing about the not-so-good ones. We were seeing some people after years and there was much catching up to do.

The committee members were working overtime to tackle last-minute glitches. Cancelled speakers, unexpected rains and long queues at the buffets, all were handled with élan. The ladies of the team sparkled in colour coordinated sarees on all days and were complimented for changing colours! 

At the valedictory function, the delegates were generous with their praise and we all basked in the warm glow of a good job done. When group pictures were being taken, a friend whispered, “It feels like a wedding”. Yes indeed. After all, successful weddings like successful conferences are all about teamwork.