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The Fourth World Conference on Injury Prevention and Control has come and gone and planning is well under way for the fifth conference in Delhi. I have been fortunate to attend three of the four conferences to date. When I return home from these conferences my colleagues invariably ask “what was it like?” “worth going?”. I regret to say I have never been effusive in response, even with respect to the Melbourne conference where I had a small hand in assisting with planning the scientific programme. So why have I been not been effusive in my praise? I will illustrate by reference to previous conferences but especially the recent conference in Amsterdam, for no other reason than it is fresh in my mind.
One of the reasons I attend such conferences is to strengthen my current contacts and establish new ones, “network” as they say. There is no substitute for previous face to face contact when communicating by mail, especially if you want assistance from the recipient of your correspondence! It has also been my experience that the establishment of positive interpersonal relationships is critical to collaborative endeavours.
Being from an English speaking country I am naturally drawn to communicating with others in countries where English is the first language for both oral and written communication. I have, however, often wondered to what degree this language limitation has hindered my learning of new and interesting developments in other countries. By definition, international conferences afford the opportunity to address this problem, albeit in a small way.
It was thus my expectation that the Amsterdam conference would provide an excellent opportunity to “network” with Europeans whose first language is not English. I was thus surprised at the small size of the European contingent relative to the US contingent, which had a greater …