November 2006. I just finished my Honours. It had been an exhausting and gruelling year. To make things worse, I was moving house. It was during this time that the call for papers for NZCSRSC’07 had gone out. In my fatigued state, I ignored anything that meant more work. I had never been to a conference before and wasn’t about to waste my precious resources on this. I mean, why waste time and energy for a possible 20 minute slot in just a student run conference? Amali was a persistent local contact though! Muttering under my breath, I proceeded to write a paper. How on earth was I meant to condense all my research into just eight pages? Didn’t people realise that this was impossible?
Fast forward to April 13, 2007. It was the last day of the conference; we were saying our goodbyes. It was only then that the importance of this event started to dawn on me. Over this period, I was introduced to the ICT research world. I gained some knowledge and experience into writing an academic paper (and yes, it is possible to write an eight page paper!), being a reviewer, and presenting my research. I started to understand the value of adequate communication in both research and industry, including the importance of feedback and discussion. I had an instant connection with these people; they understood without me having to explain. There were people at various stages in research here. The more experienced automatically took on an informal role as mentors; their stories (filled with learned wisdom, warnings, shortcuts, and tips) combined with laughter rang in my head.
Today, November, 2007. I’m sitting here, a year after first hearing about the NZCSRSC. I have decided the NZCSRSC is inaccurately named. This is not just a conference. It is not just a four day event. This is the forming and maintaining of the NZ ICT family; our family. It is the building of long-lasting networks, something that is vital. It is the receiving of an empathetic email from someone across the country just when you feel you’re knee-deep in a swamp and about to give up. It is community. It is also a training camp – one that is focussed on building the skills of those that will shape the future of ICT. It is students using their initiative to take control of their future and the direction of ICT in NZ. This is good for the student and ultimately good for ICT in NZ.
Welcome to the NZCSRSC!
Moffat, the Speaker of the House, is not singing “We are family; I got all my sisters with me”.