Thanks to the RDA Europe Early Career Program, I was able to attend the 12th RDA Plenary in Gaborone, Botswana as part of the International Data Week 2018. A common topic emerging throughout the International Data Week was the conflict between the potential benefits of sharing health data and privacy concerns.
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This November I traveled more than ten thousand kilometers south to travel to the 12th RDA Plenary in Gaborone, Botswana. It took me three flights and twenty six hours (waiting at airpots included) to reach it from my home country, Slovenia. With what purpose did I travel so far, what I was doing there and what did I take from the conference?
Over one week spent in Gaborone, with data professionals from across the globe, from 66 countries to be exact felt like that for me. It was an experience beyond any expectation I had. As I said in my speech during the opening plenary session, what was a dream over 2 years ago, became an unbelievable reality from 5-8 November 2018. International Data Week 2018 was amazing.
I am a master student in information sciences and a research assistant at the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam, Germany and was more than happy when I received the news that I was one of the grant winners for the RDA early career researcher program. Being able to travel to beautiful Botswana and attending the RDA Plenary this year was a wonderful opportunity for me to meet fellow researchers interested in (research) data management from all over the world.
For most of us the easiest way to get to Gaborone was flying via Johannesburg. Before I set off for my first Africa travel I read a lot about travelling to Africa, especially about safety in South Africa, Botswana and neighbouring countries. Reviews, especially of the OR Tambo airport were very bad: luggage missing, lots of pick pockets, etc.