Thursday, 25 November 2010


“Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study.  Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life.” - Henry L. Doherty

For the last two days I have been attending the very interesting conVerge e-Learning conference. The added bonus was that the venue was about two kilometres from where I live and getting there was very easy. Some conferences can be very boring, but in this one there was plenty of choice in terms of workshops and hands-on activities, as well as some very engaging plenary sessions. It was well-attended with about 400 delegates from all over Victoria and unlike many similar such events, the registration fees were extremely reasonable. Last week I was investigating the registration and attendance fees for a conference and I was horrified to see that the cost was close to $3,000. The conVerge conference was very modest at under $300!

The venue of the conference was an old hospital, which has been converted, refurbirshed, renovated and renewed into a hotel, Rydges Bell City at Preston. The organisers are worthy of congratulations as the choice of venue, the housekeeping, the running, the coordination, planning and general organisation of the conference were all excellent. I plan to attend again next year and look forward to a similar positive experience.

Now, as it is Food Friday, I shall write a little about conference food… I have been to many conferences and the food provided can often be a great disappointment. I was pleasantly surprised with this conference. Even though we were not fed with gourmet food, the comestibles were plentiful, fresh, appropriate and served well by experienced and pleasant staff. Even more surprising given the modest cost of registration and attendance!

On both days we had tea, coffee, cold water, juice on arrival with some biscuits and pastry for those who had missed breakfast. Then on both days there was morning tea or coffee with pastries, biscuits, fruits, and a similar spread for afternoon tea. The lunches were generous and served exceedingly efficiently as buffets. On both days there was plenty of choice, catering for both the carnivores and the vegetarians, with both healthy and not-so-healthy choices (as it was a buffet, the sin was on our head!). Yesterday afternoon we had a cocktail networking function with once again plenty of food and drink (in this one case, including alcoholic drinks).

The menu of the lunches was as follows:
•    Vegetarian wraps in Lebanese Khobz flatbread
•    A variety of salads, including beetroot and cottage cheese; rocket, bacon, tomato and lettuce; Greek salad; bean salad; chicken salad
•    A variety of samosas
•    Chinese spring rolls
•    Roast chicken pieces
•    Baked and fried potatoes
•    Variety of satays
•    Variety of sandwiches including vegetarian options
•    A variety of dim sums
•    Fresh fruit pieces, including pineapple, watermelon, melon, Kiwifruit, strawberries
•    Fresh fruit – bananas, apples, pears, mandarins
•    Selection of desserts – caramel slices, chocolate hedgehogs, cakes, cheesecake, banana cake, etc
•    Cheeses

For the evening cocktail function, there were platters of mini hamburgers (tiny, bite-size ones!), rice paper vegetarian rolls, dim sums, Thai beef salad spoons, meatballs, crudités.

Overall, an enjoyable two days where I learned much, met some interesting new people, renewed some old acquaintances, took part in engaging activities and workshops and had a pleasant experience in a very good venue!

1 comment:

  1. Conferences might seem like a wank for outsiders, but they actually require a lot of hard work and concentration to succeed. So lunch is important.

    Because people have so many different health needs and taste preferences in food, a wise conference will always provide a buffet that covers carnivores, vegetarians, salt free, sugar free, dairy product free choices etc. And label the relevant dishes!

    I, a non meat eater, went to my first conference in 1970 and was offered two apples for lunch :(