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AFS Review: Notes

The 2014 Annual Meeting for First-time International Attendees

Tuesday, October 28, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lorraine Cashman
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by Michael Dylan Foster (Indiana University) -- On behalf of the Committee on International Issues, I want to extend a sincere welcome to those of you coming to AFS from outside the U.S., and especially those of you attending for the first time. Below are some brief thoughts to help you navigate the meeting and the program.

The AFS meeting is a friendly gathering. The atmosphere is generally informal and welcoming, and even if you are attending for the first time (and even if this is your first time in the U.S.), you should not hesitate to introduce yourself to people. AFS is a relatively small gathering and it is easy to meet senior scholars, members of the AFS Board, Fellows, and others who have been involved with these meetings for a long time. You will be sure to find new colleagues with similar interests. At AFS, strangers do not remain strangers for long.

At the panels and meetings during the day, participants are eager to exchange ideas and will be particularly interested in learning about the state of folkloristics in other countries. There are also a lot of opportunities outside the formal sessions and during the evenings to meet and chat with new friends and colleagues. In past years, many international participants have commented to me that they were surprised how much fun AFS was. They marveled at how relaxed people are and how they seem to truly enjoy spending time with each other. Don’t be surprised, for example, to see musical jam sessions breaking out in the hotel lobby in the evenings! And, of course, feel free to join in.

In recent years AFS has made a concerted effort to expand its own international horizons, welcoming more and more scholars from abroad and developing formal initiatives with folklore societies around the world. Many sessions at the 2014 meeting reflect issues in other countries, and you will find an increasing focus on global concerns of all sorts. There are numerous sections and special interest groups within AFS, many of which focus on specific geographic regions. These include the African Section; British Folk Studies Section; Folklore Latino, Latinoamericano, y Caribeño Section; Mediterranean Section; Nordic-Baltic Section; and the Transnational Asia/Pacific Section. These sections always welcome new members, so just check the Program for specific section meeting times and join in the conversation.

This year there are also several events we hope that you, as an international participant, will join in. The first one is called the World Café and occurs on Wednesday, 4:30-6:00 PM in Lamy. The AFS Committee on International Issues organized this for the first time last year. It was a great success, so we are doing it again this year. The World Café is participatory and open to everybody. It consists of a series of structured, small-group conversations designed to bring to the surface our collective wisdom concerning the promises and challenges of working internationally. It is a chance to garner a comparative perspective on folklore and folkloristics, and on our projects as scholars in a global community. We especially encourage members who are traveling to AFS from outside the U.S. to attend, but we hope to get as many participants as possible—anybody interested in connecting with folklorists and the folklore enterprises of other places. Please come share your ideas.

Another important event is the Executive Board Welcome Breakfast for First Time Attendees, International Participants, and Stipend Recipients, held Thursday, 7:00—8:00 AM in the lobby. This is a great opportunity to meet the people who put the meeting together, to meet Board members, to get a brief orientation to the rest of the meeting, and to have a free breakfast!

There are all sorts of other opportunities throughout the meeting. If you are a student, for example, there is a Fellows Reception for Students on Friday evening, 6:00-7:30 PM (in Sweeney C)—an excellent chance to talk one-on-one with senior scholars. And we also encourage you all to attend the Opening Ceremonies on Wednesday evening and the Candidates' Forum and Business Meeting on Saturday.

Safe travels and we look forward to seeing you in Santa Fe.

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