Celebrating You was our first ever in-person event. When we considered planning an event for October (Black History Month), it felt fitting to create a space for Black women in Science (and Science-related fields) to be celebrated. It was full of glitz and glam, memory-making and fun, but also some logistics and planning to bring it all together. Tomi, BWiS Network founder, said that “being behind the scenes of Celebrating You was a privilege” and the rest of the team agrees. Here’s the recap of our event from the eyes of the team behind Celebrating You.
The vibe on the day was unmatched and indescribable, but for you, we will try to encapsulate the feeling. The atmosphere was wholesome and filled with positivity, support and kindness. The air was “full of class” and “rather enchanting”. Everyone was welcoming, excited to be there, super supportive and uplifting. There were many new faces and even though many people had just met for the first time, it felt like they had known each other for the longest time! The energy was one that screamed, “you are safe here”. One thing that resounded within the team was the feeling of ‘coming home’ and a couple of them said they haven’t felt that way in a very long time.
For once, we weren’t strangers. For once, we belonged.
At the event, there were various different stations hosting different activities, such as the Polaroid Station where new-found friends could get polaroid souvenirs. Let’s not forget the Affirmation Station where cards adorning bold statements such as “I am worthy” and “My feelings are valued” were pocketed by guests for them to carry during their day-to-day lives.
When we asked the planning team about how they came up with such original ideas, they said that “coming up with ideas for the stations and activities throughout the event was fun because we just asked ourselves what the people we’ve known for almost five years now would like to see,” and we think they got it right. The team commented on one particular station called ‘Who/What inspires you?’ as a “lovely opportunity to interact with some of the attendees” who openly shared the inspirations behind their particular career choices.
There was truly something for everyone. We had a variety of segments from games to networking. We particularly enjoyed the games because they gave us an opportunity to relate to each other.
We shared the things we wished we could tell our younger selves and we were so impressed with how helpful people were in providing job opportunities to others. This fostered a real sense of a tight-knit community.
However, the thing that stood out would be the unstructured sections where everyone was just mingling and talking with each other. Since no one really knew each other, we naturally prepared for some awkwardness, but people were so willing to draw others into the conversation, so no one was ever alone for too long.
Although we were mic-shy, everyone engaged in deep and down-to-earth conversations with new faces in a matter of seconds. Networking is everything and the fact that it was happening so organically was amazing. As we walked around, all we could see were smiles, all we could hear was laughter and all we could remember thinking was that moments like these were why the event was created and needed.
This event gave our team, and hopefully the attendees, a great reminder that even though everyone is at different stages and from different spheres of science, we as Black women are not alone. The fact that so many
people came means the world to us and speaks to the strength of our community. It was inspiring to gather with Black women, particularly during Black History Month. We think it’s important that everyone feels like they truly belong somewhere. Not only did this event show that Black women know how to have a good time, but it also showed others that this space was needed. This event played a hugely important role in reaffirming our individual places as Black women in science. For once, we weren’t strangers. For once, we belonged.
We as Black women are not alone.
In the end, planning and executing the event was an exciting and rewarding experience. If we could summarise the event into a few words, we would say it was amazing, inspirational, impactful, powerful and phenomenal. To all who attended and supported us in this, we sincerely thank you again. And to those who missed it, we hope you can make it to the next one. Until then, let the photos help you recreate that night. One spectacular night of many to come.
*This event could not have happened without the ongoing support of the Academy of Medical Sciences. A special shout out to Vivien Kintu, Julia Turan, Nick Hillier and many others from the Academy of Medical Sciences who went above and beyond to ensure that this was a memorable and defining evening.
All event photography credits: Empire Scheme Studios for Academy of Medical Sciences and BWiS Network.
By The Team