By: Jan Graves
You never know what being part of IABC will bring your way. In my case, since joining IABC in 1990, I have served on two IABC chapter boards, the International Board, several international committees, Canada Eastern Region, and I have become an All-Star IABC World Conference speaker. But the most exciting thing IABC has given me was an invitation to meet space shuttle astronauts and watch them launch into space at Kennedy Space Centre!
It all began at an IABC World Conference in Los Angeles when I had lunch with a Canadian IABCer who happened to work in Ottawa for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). We quickly figured out that the Robarts Research Institute (where I worked) was involved with NASA too and got chatting about Canadian space discoveries and research. We kept in touch a bit after that, and several months later she invited me to a CSA meet and greet in Toronto with the astronauts who were flying in the upcoming space shuttle mission. I went and had a wonderful time chatting with these amazingly talented people, one of whom was astronaut Dave Williams. Next thing I knew I got an invitation from Dave to the actual shuttle launch in Florida the next spring as a Canadian VIP representing my Institute.
This involved three days of touring the facilities at Kennedy and meeting dignitaries, technicians, astronauts and their families, and learning all about the shuttle. Aside from seeing Dave Williams again, I also met Marc Garneau (now Transport Minister of Canada) and Julie Payette (now Governor General of Canada) and had a chance to speak with them about their experiences. On the day of the launch, I sat with their families and my whole body vibrated as the shuttle launched them up into the blue. It was scary, energizing and joyous all at once and I will never forget it. What an amazing opportunity to meet these special people who are so talented and brave and are helping humanity reach for the stars. It would never have happened without IABC, and just goes to show you how wonderful making IABC friends can be!