Marc Agon Pacoma, an Assistant Professor at Adamson University, Philippines, was awarded a travel grant to present his paper "Politics or Religion? An Analysis of Hate Comments in Philippine Radio Station’s Facebook Page" to the Religion and Communication Working Group.
In this article he reflects on his experience at IAMCR 2019:
Every time I think about conferences, I always think of IAMCR. I vividly remembered three years ago when I resigned from my post as the head of the department in quest for a job that will not only benefit my department but most importantly myself. After a short administrative stint, I transferred to the research arm of my university. It was hard work but I was up for new challenges and one of them was research writing. I love communication theories but research was different. I saw it as tiring, time-consuming and demanding. But with my transfer, I started fine tuning my mind and body to the new endeavor that I was about to embark on. I am the type of person that before I enter into something, I want to have a great feel of it.
Soon, I started looking into conferences to present at and that’s when I encountered IAMCR. Back then the website was featuring the 2016 Leicester, UK conference. I visited the website, scrolled up and down its interface and ensured that no tabs were left unchecked. I was really serious of my craft and I told myself that one day I will be participating in one of IAMCR’s conferences and I will become a travel grant awardee.
Then it was 2018, I was able to attend the IAMCR conference in Eugene, Oregon. It took me two years to finally have the courage to submit my abstract. Though I was facing financial difficulties during that time, I promised myself that I would attend the conference that year. Even if my university opted not to fund my participation in the conference, there was no turning back. I pushed through even if it meant damaging my saving account. My first IAMCR conference was memorable as I was able to attend with my student. We both enjoyed the experience. It was our first time in the United States and we met a lot of fellow media scholars whom we became friends with. Overall, I enjoyed my first IAMCR but I would be happier if I were a travel grant awardee.
Fast track to 2019 – my target was to apply for the travel grant and fortunately, I got in. I am one of the chosen twenty travel grant awardees. My participation in the conference was guaranteed as I got to have funding for my ticket and accommodation. Adding to the excitement, it’s my first time to Spain and it is something special for me as I got to visit the country where my ancestors originated.
I arrived in Madrid ahead of the conference date. I attended the Pride March in Cibeles and visited lots of museums. I even spent one day walking and checking the different faculties and the whole campus area of the Complutense University. Also, I got to enjoy tapas and sangria in the streets of Madrid. I was enjoying the vibe and colors of Spain. But what made me more excited was the conference date, when I would be seeing again old friends and would make new ones with the other attendees.
This year’s IAMCR conference was something I was looking for from other conferences. I got to meet new communication and media researchers, made friends and collaborate for future research projects. IAMCR always gives you the feel of work-life balance. Work as we get to showcase our researches and get constructive feedback for its improvement. And life in the forms of socializing and networking. I was able to experience this equilibrium state. I enjoyed every moment of it and I am thankful to IAMCR for giving me this opportunity.
Sessions that I attended opened new ideas for me, new research possibilities. Fellow media and communication researchers were always helpful, be it by providing directions to the café or feedback on your research. You always feel that these people are friendly and helpful despite them being serious with their craft. I got to experience the same feeling in the 2018 conference in Oregon, where people were genuinely kind and ready to lend a hand in any situation. Senior scholars were generous in sharing their expertise with early stage scholars like me. This is something that doesn’t happen at all conferences. But with IAMCR I got to experience this.
I am already finalizing research topics for the 2020 IAMCR conference in Beijing. I might be ahead of time. Yes, because I am truly excited. Attending the conference seems like attending a family reunion. You got to see your favorite people (communication and media scholars, IAMCR organizers), share your experiences (in this sense my research and expertise) and share common perceptions of the world (project brainstorming, research collaboration and networking).
Again, thank you IAMCR for believing in my research and my capabilities. More power. Adiós y nos vemos de nuevo!
Marc Agon Pacoma
IAMCR travel grants are funded with a percentage of all IAMCR membership payments plus the voluntary contributions of IAMCR members and supporters.
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