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Rothenburg TCM Kongress - the ripple effect of the British Acupuncture Council

Rothenburg TCM Kongress - the ripple effect of the British Acupuncture Council

By Kevin Durjun, head of events and PR

On my first day in the British Acupuncture Council office seven years ago, I was asked for my passport details so that my flight to Rothenburg could be booked. I remember having absolutely no clue where this exotic sounding place was, nor did I have any understanding of why it was important for me to travel there. Since then I have had the pleasure of visiting Rothenburg several times, and I am now very well acquainted with this far away land and have a very clear understanding as to why it is such an essential feature of the acupuncture landscape.

The Rothenburg TCM Kongress, or Rothenburg as it is fondly known to its friends, is held in an ancient Bavarian walled city that is host to the largest conference for acupuncture practitioners in Europe. For 50 years now, more than 1,000 practitioners of acupuncture and oriental medicine are drawn here each year to learn from lecturers, to break bread with friends and colleagues and to enjoy the fresh air and wonderful conversations that you can only get when you make the time in your crammed schedules. Unless you happen to live in Bavaria, you need to make a lot of time to experience Rothenburg. Just getting there requires dedication. It took me around nine hours to travel there from London. And as soon as I arrived I just had time to drop off my bags in my hotel (inexpensive, basic and lovely) and then rush through the cobbled streets to get to my first engagement of the trip - the International Meeting held in the glamorous sounding Roccocosalle.

The International meeting is where all the big cheeses, the famous speakers, the writers, the policy makers, the people who are working hard to open up the frontiers of acupuncture and Chinese medicine go to meet up at the start of the Kongress so that they can sort out their diaries for the rest of the week. Walking up the corridor to the Roccocosalle you are accosted by the buzz of new connections being made, of old friendships being rekindled, and this wonderful fizzing energy that is generated by people who are passionate about their work. And it is very important to emphasise this - to get the most out of Rothenburg you need to work hard - lots of networking, lots of meetings, lots of focus and lots and lots of walking. The Kongress is held in different venues across the city, which itself is located on many different levels, so you need to allow plenty of time between engagements and be prepared for a work out in between meetings!

This year, I was not able to see many lectures as my schedule was full of meetings. But at the risk of sounding like a perfect nerd - what great meetings they were! I was thrilled to be part of the Tri-Continental meeting where delegates from Europe, the US, and Australia met to share news and best practice. I was able to present information in this forum about a new project that the BAcC is working on - a report that will pull together stats on the scope of acupuncture as practiced in the US, Australia, Israel and the UK. It is a massive project that the BAcC plans to share with the rest of the world to influence their future policies. Without exception, the delegates at this meeting were extremely supportive of this initiative and pledged their support in the form of supplying research data, case studies, and contacts that might be able to help. This would simply not have happened if we were not all together in one room.

I was also part of the International Meeting of Kongress Organisers where the people who host the acupuncture conferences around the world met to discuss the future of conferences in the digital age, the ways that we could harness technology to support the needs of our delegates, and how we can best disseminate information in the digital age. It was a fascinating conversation and one that touched on the importance that we make time to come to events - to strengthen our practice and our profession by working with others and learning from different voices. On a personal note, it was marvellous to hear the Chair of the Committee refer to our British conference as ‘the best in the world’, and to learn how conference organisers all over the world are inspired by it, impressed by its great value, and admire the innovation that it has displayed over the years.

Coming to Rothenburg has reinforced my belief in the power of meeting up in person, eating together, and making the time to meet and speak face to face with each other. It has also clarified for me how much influence the UK has on the policies and standards of the rest of the world’s acupuncture communities and vice versa, and long may it continue.

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