Symposium Presentation

Symposium Presentation

        When Adam told our class we would be holding a symposium to celebrate the conclusion of his four-year-long research project, I didn’t know what to expect. In fact, I couldn’t even recall a time I had heard the word symposium before. As we talked about it more, I learned that each of us currently involved in the project, as well as some distinguished guest speakers and recent graduates, would be presenting our work at the symposium. This news made me very nervous, as I, like many of my classmates, had never presented at this kind of event before.

        My academic presentations had previously been limited to more classic middle and high school style presentations in front of one teacher and a class of my peers. This symposium presentation, however, was much more formal and significant. For weeks, we worked to promote the symposium to Colby students and faculty, with the hopes of drawing a large audience for our presentations. Multiple scholars in the field of education from around the world were also coming to learn more about our research and attend the symposium. Furthermore, this symposium was more significant than my previous experiences because this was no longer an individual effort; my presentation would reflect on Adam and the validity of his work, on both past and present students who have participated in the research project, and even on Colby as a whole.

        In addition to the larger scale and greater implications of our talks at the symposium, the topics on which we would be presenting were far deeper and more meaningful than ordinary school presentations. The topics on which we would be presenting regarded the construction of our society; how those at the top of the global social hierarchy live, and how this affects those of lower classes. These were not topics on which we could accurately present without a profound understanding of the material, including various theories from educational scholars. The audience would be composed of Colby education majors and minors, as well as scholars who have dedicated their professional lives to studying the very topics of the symposium.

\"\"        As a result of all these factors, I knew I had to prepare very seriously for my presentation. I would have ten minutes to present with a partner on an article we had co-authored with Adam, and then we would be subjected  to ten minutes of Q&A. I couldn’t simply show up to the symposium with a haphazard idea of what I would be talking about. In such an important context, that would be disrespectful to Adam, my research colleagues, and Colby, as well as embarrassing for myself. Additionally, I would surely be exposed during the Q&A portion of the presentations with such informed audience members. With this in mind, my partner and I spent many long hours crafting a thoughtful script, then practicing again and again, until we felt very comfortable with the flow of our talk. Our presentation ended up going very well as a result of all this practice and hard work, and I am proud of how we represented everyone involved in the research project.  

\"\"        Events like this symposium are very important, as they are a unique way to spread knowledge on college campuses like Colby’s, and beyond. Through this event, I not only gained many skills such as improved writing and public speaking, but I also learned a lot about privilege and its reproduction in elite settings. Many different people presented on a variety of specific topics, and most importantly, the symposium fostered meaningful discussion on important issues between students and adults. I was able to understand topics, including the focus of my own presentation, in new ways as a result of the varying viewpoints and ideologies we had in the room. Although preparing for this symposium was hard work, I appreciate that I was challenged to do something I had never done before, which led me to grow as a presenter and as a learner.