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Thursday
May092019

IVSA Congress - Poland

Submitted by Leanne Jankelunas from Cornell University

From July 16th to July 27th, 2018, myself and 24 other veterinary students from the United States attended the International Veterinary Student Association (IVSA) Congress in Kraków, Poland. The International Veterinary Student Association is an organization that represents over 30,000 veterinary students from more than 50 veterinary schools in over 60 countries. All members of SAVMA automatically gain IVSA membership. The IVSA serves to facilitate international student exchanges between different veterinary schools while, also, working to improve veterinary education, promote student wellness, and work to advance veterinary medicine on a global scale.

 

The two-week event involved many activities including lectures, wet labs, electing the organization’s officials for the 2018-2019 academic year, updating the organization's bylaws, wellness activities, and exploration of Kraków, Poland and the surrounding area. The opening day involved exploring the city of Kraków and ‘International Stands’ where students shared information about their respective schools with the intent to enable international student exchanges between different schools. Later that day there was the ‘cultural evening’; an event where students had the chance to experience food and beverages from 33 countries with representatives at the event.

 

There were several interesting lectures throughout the week on various topics in veterinary medicine including nutrition for dogs and cats, biosecurity on the dairy farms, surgical techniques, autogenous vaccines for preventing poultry and swine diseases, and aquatic veterinary medicine. Furthermore, the Congress theme was Wellness. To promote this, the congress organizing committee held lectures on “Mind-Body balance” and organized activities to promote wellness such as yoga, music, kickboxing, self-defense classes, meditation, drawing and many evening parties.

 

Many labs were also held on equine, bovine, swine, companion animal, exotic, and bee medicine. I attended the bee lab where we learned honeybees husbandry techniques, common diseases and treatment options for bees, how ihoney is harvested, and, also, had a chance to perform a bee dissection. The main bee diseases that were discussed were American Foulbrood and European Foulbrood. The “bee group” also had a chance to visit an apiary and learn how to properly interact with a beehive.

 

Moreover, the delegates had a chance to explore and learn about the history of Poland through visits to the many locations in the city of Kraków, Wieliczka Salt Mine, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Zakopane. Moreover, the attendees had a chance to learn about the legend of Kraków’s dragon, explore Wawel Castle, and learn of the many pivotal events that the people of Kraków were a part of throughout history. The Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO heritage site, was spectacular. Inside the mine, there were beautiful statues and fixtures made completely out of salt including a ‘salt chapel’ and many ‘salt chandeliers.’ The tour guides explained that during the mine's heyday, the salt was considered Polish gold because of its equivalence of value to gold in old times. The most somber part of the experience was the groups visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau. There is no adequate way to describe the sadness experienced when visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau; however, the organizing committee did an excellent job providing space for the delegates to process the experience. One of the most amazing experiences in Poland was the visit to the Tatra Mountains, a mountain range that spans the border between Poland and Slovakia. The views were breathtaking and this was a great break from the General Assembly meetings that occurred throughout the two-week event.

 

The general assembly meetings involved minor updates to policies, the decision to recognize the Standing Committee on Wellness, and the election of all IVSA global officials besides the IVSA president. The IVSA President is annually elected at the winter symposium held in South Korea in January 2019. The general assembly also involved a presentation informing students of the next Congress to be held in Croatia in 2019. Elections also occurred for the 68th symposium which was chosen to be held in Morocco. There were no proposals for the location of the 69th Congress. Additionally, one member from SAVMA, Jackie St. Croix, was elected to the IVSA Global board as Secretary-General. Jackie, a third-year veterinary student at Louisiana State University, was previously the Chair of the Standing Committee of Wellness.

 

Reflecting on my time at the Congress this past summer, I can say it was a great experience where I made lasting global friendships and became inspired to become involved in global-organized veterinary medicine. I can say without a doubt I think every student in SAVMA should attempt to take advantage of this great opportunity as it will broaden your network and revise your perceptions about veterinary medicine. I sincerely thank the IVEC Scholarship Committee for giving me this amazing opportunity.

The 2018 SAVMA 67th IVSA Congress Delegates

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