Looking back on Making Together, an inaugural festival celebrating creativity in healthcare professions education hosted by Making Clinical Sense: Fringe Editions, I recount the moments I was present to enjoy among the numerous memories made by participants in the span of those few days. The night prior to the main events on May 10th, a cohort of festivalgoers already in town joined us at the Lumière Cinema for a screening of De Humani Corporis Fabrica, the most recent film from the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab featuring the hospitals of Paris. For the film introduction, we were joined by Paul Craddock and Megan Milota in a moderated panel discussion. I was inspired by the collegial atmosphere the panelists and I shared in discussion as we watched the screening of their short films for the first time on the big screen (even though some were never meant for this format). Later, as an unconventional, lightweight box for a mic was popcorned around the theater, the audience joined us in inquiry into ethnographic film meant for research. The night closed with a roller-coaster ride of a feature film which sometimes had to be watched through the slits of fingers even as it kept our eyes glued to the screen. Overall, I’m glad to have shared this insightful yet challenging experience with the room as we continued our discussions about film night even into the next day.
The following full day of workshops, conversations, and performances began at the Social Hub Maastricht. Registration began in the main room with self-decorated name badges as books published in association with Making Clinical Sense, DIY medical education models, and colored-pencil eye drawings strewn across tables provided a hand-made touch to the festival atmosphere. In a satellite room, I attended my first session of the day with Marijke Kruithof. After Marijke gave a few examples of DIY medical education projects that could be completed during the session, my fellow participants and I selected among them and got to making. I began making a menstrual, ‘moon’, cycle tracking bracelet along with the participant next to me. We poured out colored beads into cups as we selected and cut string. While we were each busy making our DIY educational tools, Marijke began telling stories of her past teaching experiences and settings. She recounted a time when she was working with girls in Ecuador, teaching them to make the same menstrual cycle bracelets during a quinceañera. During a party that is meant as a coming-of-age celebration, she helped 14- and 15-year-old girls to learn about menstruation, ovulation, fertility, and how long sperm can survive in the body. After learning about our cycles, listening to these stories, and looking up adjustable sliding knots to tie off our bracelets, we were left with a physical reminder of our menstrual cycles that felt more visceral than the app I had on my phone. Furthermore, in listening to the story of girls sitting around at a quinceañera making these bracelets, the tale of friendship colored my mind as I made this bracelet alongside the woman participating next to me.
The remainder of the day was peppered with time between sessions to meet one another and converse at leisure. I watched demonstrations of the tactile aspects of patient-doctor relationships which interwove clinical expertise and everyday sensory experiences so that even I, as a person outside the field of medicine, could get a feel for facets of medical training. We carried conversations over from film night and built densely on top of them in workshops which further dove into the thread of film as research. At the end, we gathered in a circle with the objects made throughout the day placed at its center: crafted puppets, baked bones, modeled ‘tumors’, and more. We expressed thanks to Anna, the remaining organizers of the event, and the community of people that showed up to give it life and provide the nourishing atmosphere that prevailed. As we closed the day with drinks at the rooftop bar, I hoped we’d gather like this again. We did it—a healthcare professions education festival in Limburg!