“Surreal,” “Honored,” “Privileged,” “Empowered,” “Grateful,” and “Fulfilling” were some of the words used by NextGenU.org’s Trinidad and Tobago (TT) team to describe the experience of meeting each other and Dr. Frank, Founder/Inventor of NextGenU.org in person for the first time. The TT team was provided with the opportunity to plan a meeting with Dr. Frank on 12th October 2022, which coincided with her visit to Trinidad for a conference hosted by the World Health Organization. The excitement was almost palpable as the TT team began planning for the introductory event.
With work interactions being virtual and primarily limited to video conferencing and emails, the team was finally able to connect beyond the virtual bridge. They bonded over dinner at a quaint restaurant and discussions at the table effortlessly flowed as if they had all met countless times before. As the TT team members are all female, Dr. Frank shared her feminist perspectives on some of the life experiences of women in Trinidad and the Caribbean, particularly as it relates to their cultural norms and she stimulated the dialogue with profound questions that prompted deep discussions.
The team presented Dr. Frank with some local treats synonymous with Trinidad and Tobago and a beautifully handcrafted souvenir featuring the steelpan, a national instrument indigenous to the country. After dinner, the team took a few pictures to preserve the cherishable memories of the night. Dr. Frank’s effervescent personality even took them outdoors to participate in a cultural dance that one team member, Rhonda, had done earlier that day in commemoration of First Peoples’ Heritage week in Trinidad.
The accompanying picture shows uninhibited smiles and aptly captures the feelings and emotions of those present. The TT team is eagerly planning future gatherings to continue to foster the powerful connections that have led to our achievements as a team. We conclude this blog by sharing some excerpts about this memorable experience from NexgGenU.org’s TT team members.
“When I met everyone at the dinner, it felt as if I’d known them all for years, even Dr. Frank. It felt inspiring and almost surreal to be surrounded by so many empowered women who were all brought together by NextGenU.org’s mission. Working at NextGenU.org was already fulfilling and enjoyable, but bonding with Dr. Frank and my team members in person has made it even more so.”
“It was great to finally put faces to the names of people I had been interacting with online for so long. There was not one moment of silence as our voices filled the air with laughter and endless chatter. I am grateful to have had this opportunity to connect with everyone, and I hope to keep in touch with everyone.”
“It felt like we knew each other for years. Each moment was filled with joy, and everyone was so friendly and cheerful. It is these little precious moments that make NGU such a great workspace and make me feel happy to be a part of such a great organization.”
“I have been working at NGU for over a year now and have been in correspondence with Dr. Frank on an almost daily basis so, when I finally met her in person, it felt like a reunion rather than a first meeting. Meeting everyone felt as if we were gathering with old friends instead of actually meeting for the first time.”
“Remote work can feel lonesome at times, but getting to be with everyone in person reminded me that we are all in this together. There is something about being around like-minded people that brings about a feeling of fulfillment, and this dinner generated just that.”
“Discussions at the table spanned many topics and flowed so naturally, as though we were all good friends meeting after a long time. My sense of admiration for my colleagues grew as I learned more about them. I truly enjoyed discussing Dr. Frank’s exciting travel itinerary surrounding the future of health professions education and learning more about her life experiences, which to me, underscored how much she embodies the values of NextGenU.org.”