As I write this, the 35th JALT International Conference has just drawn to a close. Official numbers are not available yet, but all indications point to the highest numbers yet for the Granship Shizuoka site. The buzz on the street has it that 2009 was the best all around conference in recent years.
Much of this had to do with the excellent volunteer work put in by the conference committee, headed once again by Director of Programs Phil McCasland. I will not go again through the list of the dedicated folks who put the conference together—for a partial list, see last month’s column—but suffice it to say that your efforts were greatly appreciated by the thousands of people present last November.
Volunteering to organize the JALT conference is a truly amazing experience. For those interested in networking, it gives you a chance to get to know, and be known by, some of the best and brightest in JALT; for those wishing to add another feather to their professional caps, duties can range from vetting proposals, to editing the conference handbook, to chaperoning VIPs, to organizing a schedule of hundreds of presentations, to planning a marketing campaign, to liaising with commercial sponsors, to managing a team of student interns.
Some volunteers are already hard at work now for the 2010 conference. Others, like the handbook editor or the site manager, won’t begin getting busy until the fall. Some positions, like the PR people, work very hard before the conference then don’t have as many responsibilities during it, whereas others have little to prepare ahead of time, but are very busy for the duration of the conference itself.
In short, volunteering for the JALT conference can be a worthwhile experience, and your participation can be tailored to your own interests and schedule. Depending on the level of involvement you choose to take on, some conference attendance costs may be waived, making volunteering an excellent opportunity for those JALT members who do not have a travel/research budget.
So give it a shot. Be part of the team that makes the 2010 conference the best one yet—another year in a row. Contact <firstname.lastname@example.org> for more information.