Hello world!

Yes, I realize that “Hello, World!” is the automatic first title of every new WordPress user’s blog, but in this case, it’s quite fitting. You see, I commence my blogging adventures from the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC, where, in the past 36 hours, hundreds of public health’s masterminds from around the word have converged for the 36th International Conference on Global Health, hosted by the Global Health Council.

It has been quite incredible to see this conference come together right before my eyes. I decided to come down to Washington, DC a few days early to visit with old friends and enjoy a brief respite from home. Because I was lugging an enormous suitcase (2/3 my body weight!), I elected to keep this trip simple and made a separate reservation at the Omni for myself for the weekend. The hotel has been incredibly accommodating and has allowed me to stay in the same room the entire time!

It being Memorial Day weekend, the Omni was home to both glamorous weddings and Harley Davidson riders in town for Rolling Thunder 2009. You can only imagine the company and conversation I enjoyed in the elevators. By Monday, as the last of the wedding parties swept out the front doors and the handsome Harleys I’d been admiring from the balcony in my room peeled out in the pouring rain, the hotel started to come to life with signs of what was to come in the next few days. At first, it was a TV by the elevators, then a token conference sign, but by Monday night, I returned from dinner to find a hotel lobby buzzing from chatter in many languages and alive with international color. (I don’t know how to describe that any better, save to encourage you to imagine the difference between biker pants and bridesmaid dresses and stunning saris and wraps.) Needless to say, quite the transition.

I walked down to the lobby early Tuesday morning to discover that some of the beautifully-dressed people I had seen in the hotel the night before were my own colleagues from John Snow, Inc (JSI), in town from our field offices to present outcomes from some of our projects. That is one of the parts I love about this job. I am a Communications Coordinator for JSI, which means… well, that kind of depends on the day. My friends in Boston equate me to Chandler Bing, from the TV show, Friends, as no one can accurately describe what I do, including me, sometimes. In one capacity (and the one that is relevant to GHC), I coordinate JSI’s presence at the larger public health conferences, including GHC, APHA, and the International and US Conferences on AIDS.

Lately, I have been piecing together JSI’s social media strategy, which is somewhat of a tricky endeavor, given the wide variety of projects and topics we undertake, both domestically and internationally. For those interested, the elevator speech I gave to the bridesmaids and bikers this weekend was that I work for an organization that designs, implements, manages, and evaluates public health initiatives around the world, and that’s just the outer layer. (I added that last part because these elevators move surprisingly fast when you’re trying to describe public health work!)

In short, thanks to some encouragement from friends at GHC, I will be blogging about the conference and about JSI’s participation in it this week. I am also tweeting for JSI on @JSIHealth, so follow us on twitter or on the hashtag for this conference. I have a second blog post in my head from Tuesday, which I will try to write in my spare time. Highlights include: the passing of the torch, PAIMAN’s success, and other such adventures.