The day finally came. On March 26, 2010, I presented my poster at the Society for Applied Anthropology conference in Merida, Mexico on behalf of myself and co-authors. How did it go? Well, there were some anxiety and problems encountered, but it went well overall. Let me recount my little journey.
Before the conference, I have to ensure that I arrive with the most important thing—the poster! If I lose it, there goes my entire presentation!! That caused a lot of anxiety because before the conference I immersed myself in a variety of cultural experiences (via traveling) that required a lot of moving around. That meant wherever I went, I also need to lug my poster. By the time I checked into the conference, I boarded 8 flight segments, rode on 2 long-distance bus routes, traveled to 2 countries and 4 regions, and left my poster in the restroom at least twice (but luckily backtracked in time). Can you imagine the pressure I felt for ensuring the poster arrived safely and soundly?
With lots of luck, the poster made it to the conference in one piece. Then, the next thing I have deal with is presenting it to the academic community. Amazingly, I did not have much anxiety with the presentation. However, the problem I encountered was not being placed in a very favorable position. The room of the poster session was small, poster easels were crammed in as many places as possible, and there was dim lighting. To make my situation worse, I was placed next to the wall. Why is this bad? Well, the easel was high enough to give me enough light that was equivalent to a candlelight dinner. Sounds romantic enough, but not really the feel I am going for. This location also made me (and my immediate neighbors) invisible to most of the visitors to the session. I would not blame them, I mean how do you know that there are posters to the side of the room especially since it is dark in that area and is difficult to get to?
Regardless of my location, I still had great visitors, responses, and feedback. Since I was presenting on Uyghurs, it was not surprising that some people have not heard of them. Whether they had heard of them or not, everyone was interested about this group. Many did not know the health disparities Uyghurs experience due to political and structural barriers. There were also many who were curious on how the group was contacted considering their very small population in Los Angeles County. I also had several encouragements to continue following the Los Angeles Uyghurs and track health changes in their population.
Despite anxiety and problems encountered, I had a great poster session. I had a very interested and attentive audience that outweighed any cons I experienced. I was able to get the Uyghur story out to the academic community. I also brought attention the presence of Uyghurs that could possibly spark more future research or projects that can positively help this community. I think I did the Los Angeles Uyghur community and my co-authors proud.