December 15, 2021
Many of our Societies have enjoyed sought after lecturers and a wider audience thanks to the virtual National Lectures that started during the pandemic. The Ottawa Society is no exception. As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and the Ottawa Society did all that and more, offering two full lecture seasons in 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 with speakers from around the world and even starting a new and very successful bake along program. Chandra Giroux, Secretary for the Ottawa Society, tells us all about it below.
“The pandemic has certainly been a challenge for the Ottawa society, but thanks to the efforts of John Serrati, our Program Coordinator, we were able to deliver a full lecture slate for both the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 seasons. We also decided that we would try our best to see this as an opportunity. So, we had speakers from around the world who would normally be a challenge for us to bring in, teamed up with our usual partners (the Canadian Institute for Mediterranean Studies and the Ottawa chapter of the Canadian Institute in Greece), and invited as many as we could to our online lectures. We have had audience members from Australia, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, the United Kingdom, and the United States join us, along with our usual, wonderful local audience. So, in many ways, while we were restricting our movements, our world grew. Some of these international guests have continued to join us for the entire season this year.
As we rolled into our second season (2021-2022) of virtual lectures, we wanted to try something a little bit different. The brainchild of our President, Heather Loube, and our Program Coordinator, John Serrati, we cooked up our first ever bake along. Nicholas Tošaj (John Abbot College) presented “Cultures of Wheat: Food Systems, Imperialism, and Bread in French Colonial Morocco” while demonstrating how to make semolina khobz bread. Nicholas had two cameras: one on his face and one on his counter to help us follow along (see photo). We invited our guests to join us in the kitchen, or just come to listen! The lecture was such a success and received such positive reviews, that we are planning on having regular in-person bake alongs once public health guidelines allow for it.
We are so appreciative to our audience for their continued support and enthusiasm. Because of them, we have been able to connect in new and interesting ways. We are now looking forward to continuing to explore Zoom lectures to connect with our new international audience as we start to come together in person with old, familiar faces.”
Thank you to Chandra for providing us with such a wonderful update of what’s been going on with the Ottawa Society. We applaud their creativity and positivity!