Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

How to Drive Yourself Crazy Planning a Campus Event


This is a fun post to remind myself I should probably simplify my event planning in future… Like avoid at least a couple of the following complications.

I am referring to Digital Pedagogy Lab Cairo: an AMICAL Institute (website here, Prof Hacker excitement/panic post here)

The crazy things I have done

Have Multiple Access Levels
Some parts of the event are open to the entire public. Some parts are for fully registered people who attend with a particular track for 3 days. Some events are open to what we decided to call “non-track” participants – people in Cairo who couldn’t be “track” participants coz of space reasons or coz they applied too late to get a space at all.

The idea was to be inclusive and ensure the max number of people possible benefited AND to also give people a chance to be on a “waiting list” to participate in the event in case someone drops out. This already happened twice and I was so happy to move people out of the waiting list.

Have Multiple Audiences with Crazy Different Needs
We have the local people, faculty, fav devs, librarians from my institution. For them it’s easy to attend…but also easy to stray if an urgent meeting comes up or something. But at least I know many and know their needs to a great extent

We have Egyptians who live in Cairo but aren’t at AUC. For them it’s easy to be there and stay but I have few spaces for them and they come from SUCH different backgrounds.

We have AMICAL members – from different American Institutions around the world. No idea what their backgrounds or needs are.

We have track AND non-track participants from each constituency and so it’s really difficult for any of my colleagues trying to keep up to understand what the heck everyone is doing.

Have Different Models for Money In/Out
Some flights we paid ourselves. Other flights we will reimbruse (from different grants)…some in cash and some via bank transfer. Some people actually need to pay US money. Some in cash on day of event. Others more electronically but in two different ways depending on whether they are self or department funded.

Have No Budget for Some Things…Then Scramble
I had no line in my budget for hospitality or photography (because I had no money left for them). So I scrambled to save everywhere (eg by booking flights early, finding cheaper accommodation, having more AUC participants, etc) to save enough to make it work. Barely πŸ™‚ Have managed the food..hoping on hospitality… Realizing some new costs come up unexpectedly, though.

Have No Budget for Fun..
Budget was bursting. No budget for fun. Still, hoping to organize fun stuff on people’s own expense πŸ™‚

Forget to Put in Enough Downtime
Not only do people need a breather, but also… Makes it difficult to schedule Virtually Connecting sessions πŸ™‚ haha

But Seriously… Currency Rates?
Best advice anyone ever gave me was to plan your budget with a buffer… Because seriously? Exchange rates! I lost 500 USD coz the Euro rose against the Dollar from day i submitted budget to day it was Approved. No kidding. And I also pay some stuff in Egyptian which just complicates everything again.

Ah well – this one’s for you, Hoda (my friend).

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