This post contains useful information for those who want to work a minder in the future as well as attempts to give you a taste of what it is to work backstage for an international conference such as BrazTesol’s. In the following paragraphs I will share all my impressions and as a token, you will be able to watch an interview with the team’s coordinator Veruska Gallo. Ready? Please follow me now…
Among more than 1300 participants of the 16TH edition of BrazTesol International Conference walking around the UCS (Universidade Caxias do Sul) whether to attend the next session or plenary or mingling around exhibitors’ booths to network, you can certainly notice white jackets hurriedly moving between buildings carrying cables or bringing water to Speakers, helping people to find their session’s room or simply doing whatever is necessary to keep the conference running as smoothly as possible. They make part of a very special group of people, called “minders”. This year, I have decided to become one of them and share the experience here for Talking EFL.
The moment I had been told about the minder position and what they are supposed to in the event, I made my decision and applied to be one of them and at that very moment, I had no idea I would want to tell you this story. The next months were characterised by sporadic messages in a group created specifically for the event, with some sort of procedural information. But it was in the two preceding months that I started having a better idea of how the minder universe works.
The group is composed by approximately 50 minders, novice and seniors, all coordinated by Veruska and two months before the event the group was bombarded by messages from minders in need of information on hotels, places to visit, how to get to the venue and so and such and then, minders from Rio Grande do Sul and specially from Caxias: Marcella, Manu, Silvia and many others, made a beautiful demonstration of the minder spirit. They answered questions about transport, weather, restaurants and touristic sights faster than any skilled tourist guide you can possibly imagine.
An online meeting and the first timetables for morning and afternoon minders marked the final steps before the conference. I must confess that I was extremely excited, as if I was going on a holiday trip and when the day came, I was one of the last minders to arrive in the University as I had bought my tickets before even being selected. As soon as I arrived there, Veruska welcomed me with a huge smile and a warm hug just before sending me to my position and my very first assignment: To give the participants the Conference Kits.
Throughout the conference I have made some videos (Instagram stories), so you can have a better view of the everyday life of the minders. In the following days, after almost running a marathon through the University Campus, the image I have imprinted in my memory is from the participants saying thank you with a smile on their faces, nervous speakers looking at me in an attempt to calm down a bit before delivering their talks or faces of relief after giving them back something they have lost.
When the last day came and regardless of all the tiredness (I wasn’t feeling my legs anymore), I immediately started feeling sad and I could only think about how the conference would be concluded. Much to my surprise and joy, I got to watch a beautiful and traditional ‘Gaúcha’ dance presentation and when BrazTesol’s President Henrick Oprea came on the stage and invited all the minders to go there I realized that there was more to come. We were there, standing in front of the very ones we were helping throughout the conference when they kindly gave us a warm-hearted round of applause followed by a gift from the Academic Committee.
All in all, I couldn’t be more proud and happy! Participating in such a huge conference as a minder was a remarkable awe-inspiring experience! Next time, even if I visit the conference as a speaker, I will be a minder again! If you are a BrazTesol member I strongly advise you to give the minder experience a try, I promise it will be something you will never forget. See you in 2020…
Please find here the interview with Veruska Gallo, an extraordinary woman giving you some more detail on the minder programme: