On the first week of 2019, while a lot of people still celebrating their new year and enjoying their first holiday of the year, officials from the International Forestry Students’ Association gathered in Ireland at the Institute of Waterford for their mid-year meeting. An interim is a meeting held every year for the IFSA officials to come together and meet their (online) working partners and decide the future direction of our organisation, a perfect chance for the officials to interact with each other closely and achieve their tasks more efficiently.

We had around 11 officials from the Capacity Development Commission, Communication Commission and regional representatives from Latin America, Southern Europe, Northern Europe and IFSA board members participating in the Interim. Since it was relatively small group for a working environment, we decided to focus on the work starting from the Communication commission, Regional representatives and cultural competencies sub-commission and leading to a detailed brainstorming session thereby structuring way forward and setting expectation for our tasks.

Furthermore, the board members decided to involve other officials in the projects they are currently working on; such as the ‘IFSA World Cafe’ that aims at engaging a greater scale of IFSA members and partners for this coming International Day of Forests, financial report presentation from the treasurer, brainstorming session for the EFI-IFSA-IUFRO green jobs and capacity building project etc.

Not only the board members contributed to some very productive sessions, the heads of commissions participated too. The Head of Website from Communication Commission led us on his project on creating a brand new IFSA official website. Moreover, the regional representatives also presented their innovative projects such as the English-Spanish School from Latin America Regional Representatives and the IFSA Couch Surfing from both Southern Europe and Northern Europe. Lastly, the Head of Cultural Competencies also led a productive brainstorming session to make sure IFSA addresses and celebrates diversity in the organisation.

We ‘Worked hard and played hard’.  As students of forestry it was hard for us to resist the attraction from the local forest , hence we went on a hike to the a nearby mountain range. The lecturer from the Institute of Waterford was generous and kind to use his time and give us an insight on Ireland forestry, particularly on forest management in Ireland. International night is one of the most important activities for the IFSA community, as it is a chance for students from different cultural and country background to experience cultural exchange, hence we had an international night on the fourth day of the interim meeting. We had officials from Asia-Pacific, Southern and Northern Europe and North America who participated in the Interim and each of us brought our own country delicacies and celebrated our diversity through songs and dances.

A busy week went by quickly and we had to say goodbye to our ‘newly met’ friends. It was one of my memorable experiences to start 2019, interacting and learning new things from my fellow IFSA officials with different level of academic and cultural backgrounds, which was an eye opener. In addition, the organising committee from the Institute of Waterford were very accommodating and trying to make us feel at home at all time. Although we all have different life experience and backgrounds, but we have the same IFSA spirit for ensuring the realisation of our ultimate vision – ‘A world that appreciates forests’.

This article is written by Chew Jia Yi from LC ANU, any further enquiries please email to [email protected]