by Amy Vandervelde ’21
When it’s early October, the leaves are changing, everyone is busy studying, and over at the Kofi Annan Institute for Global Citizenship (KAIGC) both staff and student staff members are finalizing the details for the year’s International Roundtable (IRT). IRT 2019 occurred on October 9-12. The theme was Incarceration (Un)Interrupted: Reclaiming Bodies, Lands, and Communities. Macalester community members had the chance to attend several different scheduled events throughout the weekend, but there was a whole lot more that happened behind the scenes in preparing for these events.
I’ve helped with the IRT planning details for three years now, starting back when I was a first year. The IRT is the biggest event each year for the KAIGC, and it’s the busiest time for my work study position. I am constantly working on IRT-related tasks throughout the first six weeks of the semester, but my schedule calms down after IRT season, giving me time to work on homework during my front desk shifts. This was also the first year where I had extra third floor shifts at the KAIGC because of how my hours were arranged now that I’ve also become a member of the English Department student staff. It’s been a strange two weeks since the IRT, going from spending so many hours working on event details to being done.
Last month, I was working my usual four hours at the front desk of Markim Hall and added on around five hours each week to spend on the third floor working more directly with one of my supervisors, Meg Thorson. During these shifts, I completed various tasks including proofreading and editing posters, making name tags and table tents, and creating Google Forms and calendar events.
All of the KAIGC front desk student staff members helped out with posting signs, hosting event rooms, delivering session packets, and taking pictures. A difference that I noticed this year was that I worked a lot more leading up to the event than I did during the IRT itself. Consequently, it was also the first year that I was able to attend an event outside of work because a couple of professors cancelled class and encouraged students to engage with the IRT. I’d never been able to attend any IRT session before. I’d always either been working or in class. I’d only ever viewed the pre-IRT and post-IRT planning and clean up side of things. I really appreciated the opportunity to see and reflect on all of the hard work that happened behind the scenes.
This year, I was immersed in the discussion because I wanted to engage in the IRT conversation and learn more about how these events pan out. I sat in one of the overflow rooms for a Thursday afternoon student-led session called “Imperialism, Displacement, and the Palestinian Fight for Freedom.” The session was impactful for me. I held two perspectives while there: an audience member listening for class and an event planner who was able to see the event in motion. I distinctly remember sitting in the overflow room with the session live-streamed via projector, when the image glitched, the sound dropping out. I immediately switched from audience member to student staff member. Thankfully, just as I was about to stand up and try to figure out the technology problem, it recalibrated back to normal. My supervisor Matt Katsaros was checking in on the room when the same thing happened a second time. Neither of us could figure out why that happened, but it’s already on our list of tasks for IRT 2020.
It’s been really odd to think that I only have one more IRT left in my time as a Macalester student. I started back in Fall 2017, just as a third proofreader on name tags and the occasional poster. In Fall 2018, my work in proofreading the IRT posters led a fellow student worker of mine to recommend I join The Mac Weekly staff as a Copy Editor, a position I held throughout last year before becoming the Opinion Editor. This year, my passion for copy editing and writing has led me here to The Words. I’m excited to see where my editing positions with IRT, The Mac Weekly, and The Words all lead.