The IBBY World Congresses are inspiring events, offering a unique opportunity to meet and share ideas about children’s books and reading with like-minded enthusiasts from across the world. They are unique in bringing together all the different interests and professions that are part of the IBBY family: authors, illustrators, publishers, critics, academics, teachers, literacy advocates and organisers, and others. There is just nothing like them.
We experienced this special excitement when we organised the 33rd World Congress in London in 2012 and we were sure that IBBY members, particularly young people, would benefit enormously from attending future Congresses. But we were also aware that, depending where the Congress took place, it could be an expensive business, especially for young people who might not have access to support from any institution. So we decided to set up a bursary scheme.
Our first two bursaries were offered in 2013 for the 2014 Mexico Congress. We had eleven applications and, in view of the strong field, actually awarded three bursaries to Beth Cox, Sophie Hallam and Osman Coban.
You can find details of the 2014 bursary holders and of their experience at the Mexico Congress here:
We also asked the bursary award winners to comment on their experience when they returned, so as to inform us about future schemes and to give prospective bursary applicants an idea of both the obligations and benefits of the scheme.
Here are some of their responses to our questions.
How you have been able to feedback your experience to your colleagues where you work or study?
In the School of Education at the University of Glasgow we have group meetings with the other PhD students and staff who work on similar subjects. As a group of PhD students at the School of Education regardless of our field we sometimes come together and one student gives a presentation about a topic that everyone may benefit from. In both meetings I had a chance to give a presentation about the Congress, Mexico, my poster presentation and IBBY. After the presentation the other students had a chance to ask questions. Some of them did not know about IBBY and some were already members of IBBY UK. They were very interested in learning about how diverse IBBY is and how big and successful the Congress was. Some of them had never heard of such a bursary. It was really pleasure for me to share my thoughts and experiences of the Congress. Also I will try to write or present something about the Congress in Turkey.
I wrote a detailed report for Booktrust, where I was working then.
I have had lots of discussions with my colleague, Alexandra Strick, based on the contents and seminars at the conferences. I was also able to feedback to a wide range of people through tweeting from the Inclusive Minds account at the conference, and have discussed some aspects with the MA Publishing students at Brookes University who I am teaching for the children’s module. Going along to the parallel session and seeing the display of tactile books is also feeding in to the development of a second tactile book that Child’s Play is developing.
How do you feel the Congress has contributed to your personal and professional development?
It was wonderful to gain more of an international perspective which has contributed towards both my personal and professional development. Not only in terms of exploring children's literature/publishing in Mexico but also the different literacy initiatives and the seriously amazing libraries
The opportunity to come together with people all passionate about a similar subject was invaluable and inspirational. My thinking on certain aspects of inclusion was challenged in a positive way, and I also met people doing similar work in different countries that qualified the work I’m doing. I’ve made new contacts and connections, which will be useful in the future. I think it gave me more confidence in what Inclusive Minds can achieve as an organisation. Having the experience in Mexico where I could see different aspects of inclusion and accessibility in the environment and cultural history only added to this.
As a Turkish student in the UK, I had chance to attend one of the biggest Congress in my field. I met well known scholars, authors, illustrators and experts. If you think about a student who has never been in a Congress and consider how large the scope of Congress is, you may assume how fascinating, nourishing and broadening it was for me. Meeting those experts from different continents, learning about their reading projects, having chance to follow their activities after the Congress and being able to contact them when needed and visiting another continent, have all added to my personal and professional development significantly.
In addition, I had contacts from Turkey who are leading scholars and authors in my field. I felt that I am doing a very important job in the UK and I am special after their feedback. They write and encourage me to write and to have an active role in my field in Turkey.
Another thing I would like to mention was sharing the IBBY UK house in Mexico, doing activities together, visiting bookstores, meeting publishers and having dinner together which was absolutely fantastic.
After the Congress, being given an opportunity to talk in the IBBY/NCRCL Roehampton Conference in November was another beauty of being one of the bursaries. The feedback I received after the panel was really encouraging too! The welcome of IBBY members encouraged me a lot.
What was your overall experience of the bursary process and are there any improvements that we might make if we decide to offer the bursaries again?
The bursary process was very smooth, although it might have been useful to have had the balance of the bursary further in advance to get flights booked sooner. I think buying the tickets for the conference ourselves may have been confusing as the cost varied depending on the day and the exchange rate, so it might have been better for IBBY to purchase these directly.
It was incredibly positive and I'm very glad that applying enabled me to become so involved with the committee over the last year.
Overall, from beginning to the end I think the bursary was very enhancing and beneficial for me. I would love to thank all the IBBY UK members who trusted me. Being an IBBY UK member has been special for me. I am unable to think of any improvements, but I know there are many students who need this kind of bursary to broaden their horizons!
Any other comments?
I feel I am a part of IBBY UK family and would love contribute as much as I can. I have been talking about IBBY to any relevant people, so that they learn and may become a part of this beautiful peace making organisation.
Nothing other than that I’m very grateful for the opportunity offered to me by IBBY. I certainly couldn’t have afforded to go without the bursary, so many thanks.
Apply for a bursary to attend the 35th World Congress in Auckland New Zealand, Literature in a Multi-Literate World, 18-21 August 2016.