Second Immersion Conference – FAQS

This is an informal description of the thinking behind the first subsistence marketplaces bottom-up immersion conference. We invite you to read and consider participating in this unique, one-of-a-kind forum.

Why is this conference unique?

This is a bottom-up immersion conference. What this means is that we emphasize field interactions. If we are truly bottom-up in the subsistence marketplaces stream, then our forums should push further and be spent in the field as well, gaining bottom-up insights.

What will happen at the conference?

We will spend much of the day in the field, then return to the city to reflect and regroup for the next day. We remain fluid in allowing ideas from the participants and insights from the field to emerge and guide the process. Our process is bottom-up in this aspect as well, but guided by much experience, which will provide appropriate top-down structure.

We will typically depart from the hotel at 7:30am and return around 4pm.

What else can we do?

Enjoy safaris, shopping, and local cuisines. Visit cultural sites. Extend your trip or arrive early. Visit Serengati, Ngorogoro Crate, Lake Manyara, Tarangire or Arusha National Parks.  Hike Mount Kilimanjaro.

Who makes this happen?

There is a symbiotic relationship between the Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative at the University of Illinois (an academic entity), and the Marketplace Literacy Project (MLP), partnering with OIKOS East Africa. Together, our marketplace literacy program has reached close to ten thousand Masai women in the Arusha region. This is a unique model and these entities are deeply embedded in communities providing marketplace literacy education, which will enable field interactions for conference participants.

What is the process building up to the conference?

Track chairs will be responsible for leading small groups of 4-8 people to the field with a trained translator. We envision rural and urban Arusha region as the venues for observations and interviews, with a period in the Spring when we realign groups based on interests and preferences. We aim for fluidity during the conference, for people to move between groups. We plan to seek initial preferences from each group as to what they want to see and with whom they want to interact – the latter ranging from individuals to households, communities, leaders/experts, and enterprises.

What this conference is NOT

This conference is not a forum for conducting research, which requires a variety of procedures and formalities. Therefore, the focus instead is on field interactions, which are intended to stimulate discussion but do not constitute the basis for any formal research.

What are the travel logistics?

We encourage participants to explore travel logistics on their own.  The conference will be held at the Themi Suites.  Any information on lodging will be provided at the conference website soon.  The same goes for safaris.  For those applying for visas, please let us know if you need any documentation from us.

How will we interact with tracks and track chairs before the conference?

We are initially assigning you to a group based on a variety of considerations (representing different sectors like academicians and practitioners, different geographies, etc.). Track assignments have been sent in an email to registered attendees. Note that you can move around between groups even during the first day as we will all use one base village or urban center to start out. The grouping helps us immensely in knowing who is in which vehicle.

We are asking each group to interact with the track chair choosing your preferred communication platform. We ask each group through their chair to communicate back to us no later than January 30 as to an initial list of:

  1. Whom you want to talk to – e.g., home-makers, farmers
  2. What you want to see – e.g., harvesting, cooking
  3. Places you want to visit – e.g., clinic, social enterprise of a particular sort
  4. Any other suggestions about field interactions
  5. Any suggestions for conference outside of field interactions
  6. Any suggestions for entertainment related activities – food, shopping…

What will we do each day?

We plan rural, semi-rural and urban visits in the Arusha region each day.

We meet to debrief, report back, plan the pathway forward roughly late afternoon to mid evening.

Dinner each day will be on your own in small groups.

Where will we meet first?

May 24th evening at Themi Suites or May 25 morning at 7 am ready to depart to the villages and organized by tracks.