Dr. Shacchee Baweja
IBCLC, MBBS, DCH, IYCF
August 20, 2018
I had read and heard a lot about ILCA conferences. When I received a partial scholarship for the conference this year in Portland, I eagerly accepted it. I have been diligently saving for it for the last 2.5 years! My first impression when I reached the conference venue was that it was a very well organized huge event, little did I know that there were many surprises waiting for me in the coming days.
This conference was very different from any other conference that I had attended in the past. There was so much love, passion, encouragement and openness. I had come to the conference expecting to learn about lactation and hoping to network with my colleagues from different parts of the world. I did all that and I learned much more about life as well! My learning came from the talks as well as from my interaction with various professionals: lactation support people/ birth support people/ cranio-sacral therapists etc.
I learned about bias, inequity, and privilege. I learned what being inclusive means. I got a chance to hear success stories of some communities and also got the privilege of listening to trials and tribulations of certain others. After many sessions, I wanted to hug the presenter! Imagine my surprise when on the first day of the conference I came face to face with Ms C W Jenna! I was so happy to meet many more of my idols: Ms Alison Hazelbaker, Dr James McKenna, Dr Neils Bergmann etc were there. It was like a Madam Tussaud's kind of experience for me where I could be with my favorite celebrities as much as I want! To add to my joy, everyone was so gracious and welcoming. I got a chance to listen to them, to talk to them and also to click pictures with them!
I made many friends over these 4 days. It is so much fun talking to people you share common passion and ideologies with. You connect instantly. I was happy to connect instantly with quite a lot of them. I got a chance to participate in a few events by the “Equity Team.” Again, it was a big learning experience. This whole conference was such an amazing experience that I want all my Indian lactation field colleagues to experience it. I felt all of us deserve to be there. I / we raised the issue of how impossibly expensive this conference is for majority of Indian lactation professionals a few times, and I got tremendous support from the attendees as well as the ILCA Board.
We ( ALPI) organized a mehendi party for our ILCA colleagues as thank you and it was very much appreciated by people. The tie dye scarves which we gave as gifts were a huge hit! Last but not the least, I got a chance to carry our Tricolor in the “Parade of Flags” even. That was my most favorite part of the conference!
P.S. I have already started saving for any future conference that I can attend!