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Pandemic Encourages International Chapter Collaboration
By Brian Lee, EAA Lifetime 149802, EAA Chapter 441
July 2020 – In July 2017, Neil Bowden, EAA 565560, of Chapter 322 in Johannesburg, South Africa, traveled to Oshkosh for AirVenture. Being there several days early, Neil and his EAA colleagues attended the monthly gathering of Chapter 252. There they heard a presentation they enjoyed.
Now, during the pandemic, when many chapters are meeting virtually, Neil remembered that lecture he'd heard at Oshkosh , and asked himself, "I wonder if …" Neil contacted Tracy Noack, EAA Lifetime 242133, of Chapter 252 and asked about the program he remembered. Tracy went through the records and discovered what Neil remembered was from July 2017, and was presented by Brian Lee, EAA Lifetime 149802. Even though Brian is a member of Chapter 252, he's also the president of Chapter 441, and lives near Seattle, Washington. Tracy got in touch with Brian, who gladly agreed to do a reprise of the chapter program. Chapter 441 has been hosting its meetings via Zoom since April (they simply canceled March, but the membership wanted some kind of interaction), so the idea of a virtual meeting was not particularly foreign.
A couple of dry runs later, all proved well, and Brian was the guest of Chapter 322 on July 1, 2020. Chapters 252, 99, 932, 44, and 441 were also invited to join. In all, there were nearly 100 participants in the call. The presentation was enthusiastically received, with both accolades and a call for more, similar, global participation.
A number of years back, EAA developed a Speakers Bureau by connecting chapters with willing speakers for monthly gatherings. Now the pandemic has gently encouraged us to conduct our gatherings virtually (at least in the near term), which makes long-distance, and in particular international sharing, much more convenient. After all, sharing skills, expertise, and experience is what EAA is all about. Luckily, EAA has revamped its Speakers Bureau, and presenters can now flag themselves as virtual presenters. This will allow chapters to reach a much wider variety of speakers, and provide content not only during COVID-19, but also once in-person gatherings resume.