GPU 2008: A Follow Up

// October 28th, 2008 // Blog

After a disastrous first day at the GPU 2008, I have to say, Sunday was a only, oh… a million times better! Alhamdulillah.

If you were at the GPU yesterday, and spotted a mad sister interviewing some “strange” people on camera – that was me! I can't say too much, mainly because I want to save the juicy details for the article I plan to write, inshā’Allāh.

I took photos, and also met some interesting folks, including a couple of the MM shuyukh (link to my MM article to be inserted here within 24 hours, inshā’Allāh now LIVE).

I have to say, although the Islam Expo 2008 was so much more fun, in so many more ways, I did learn just as many lessons from my GPU experience, both from a professional and personal perspective.

Professional lessons

My interviewing skills need a lot of work, but I did improve over the course of the day, alhamdulillah. So, by the time I interviewed a couple of very special guests [“Who could they be?”, the audience ponder… you'll have to wait for the article, I'm afraid!], I was in my element. And although I haven't seen the footage myself, I am pretty sure they went well, māshā’Allāh.

Tecchy point: it really helps if you can hear the answers your interviewees are giving in response to your questions. That might sound obvious, but it wasn't to me, until I was basically told that my questioning style sucks, by the cameraman (okay, he was nicer than that). It wasn't “conversational” enough the first few times, but that was fixed when I nabbed his giant, DJ-style headphones that were connected to the audio feed from the microphone I was holding. I had to endure the torture of hearing my own voice, coupled with looking like an idiot in front of several hundred passers-by… but it was worth it, just for the significant improvement it made to the flow of the interview, alhamdulillah!

The motto of the weekend from Islam Expo 2008 was: “Act like a pro: get treated like a pro”. That was particularly true at the time, when the same cameraman and I were amateurs in our respective fields. But māshā’Allāh, we still managed to get a lot done – firstly thanks to the generosity of Allāh, secondly due to the generosity that He instilled in his slaves, the Muslims – but thirdly, because we tried to act confidently in our dealings, adding little touches like professional-looking business cards, and did not get all 'starstruck' every time we had the opportunity to meet influential speakers and guests. Plus our project, SignLabs.org (then known under the working title: Project: Learn to Sign) really grabbed people's attention. All that combined with a good intention (inshā’Allāh) meant we achieved way more than either of us thought was possible, especially for people of our status: i.e., nobodies!

This time round, we were not so amateur. My camera guy (maybe I should just name him? It sounds very side-kick-ish to refer to him by his job description! Note: I just asked his opinion, and he requested to henceforth be known as the “Media Guy”, because in his own words: “I dont just film!“) has recently invested in a lot of heavy duty pro equipment, and has big plans for his production company.

And as a sign of our seriousness, this time round we were really prepared to get things done in a calm and coordinated manner, to avoid the manic circus act that we performed at the Expo. We had press passes, and many contacts on the 'inside' who we thought we could use to our advantage. We even had a list of appointments for scheduled, one-to-one interviews. However, it turns out that events never run according schedule; especially ones run by Muslims – though admittedly, I haven't been to many Jewish, Christian or other faith-related events to make a fair comparison! I don't want to say too much, mainly because this is not the place to complain, but the whole first day was a huge disappointment to say the least, mainly because we spent most of it sat around waiting for things to happen. It wasn't just me and Media Guy; my friend also joined us, as well as some other brothers, including one from the organization, Muslim Deaf. That's a lot of person-power gone to waste.

On a related note, I don't think I do very well working with large teams on the move. Maybe it is just me, but due to the chaotic nature of such a huge event, it was getting to the point where I was more concerned about the location of group members, than the location of the people we needed to film! In that respect, one reason we did so much better the next day was because we unintentionally split up, with Media Guy, my friend and I working as a small crew. It was so much more manageable that way, especially as we needed to be flexible enough to make the most of fleeting opportunities.

However, praise be to Allāh, Day Two proved to be exactly the experience I had been yearning for. And, as my friend pointed out, it likely only came about because of the sheer awfulness of the previous day, that propelled me to beg Allāh for help, and subsequently complain to the right people, which made all the difference. I also went back to my somewhat amateurish way of “sod the rules!”, and just did what I wanted to do; what I was actually interested in doing, and what my heart felt happy with. I didn't wait around for people to bring me opportunities; I created my own, with the permission of Allāh. In addition, my intentions were once again clear, and it made all the difference. Really, my head was all messed up the previous day, which really sapped my energy, leading me to focus on the negatives, rather than engaging with the positives.

I am sure there are more professional lessons to be shared, which I haven't quite realised yet, but I think this post is long enough for now! To end, the motto that was born from the experiences at Islam Expo, has now been amended in light of recent findings:

“Act like a pro: get treated like a pro. But remember: go with flow, else you'll be too slow!”.

10/10 for cheesiness-factor, right there!

I will continue with the personal lessons in the next installment, inshā’Allāh.

21 Responses to “GPU 2008: A Follow Up”

  1. ms says:

    Alhamdulillah!

    I am so glad to hear you are doing so well!

  2. Media Guy says:

    At the time of publishing the preceding article, Dr iMuslim did not take my written consent or present me with a release form for quoting me in the parenthesis of the fourth paragraph of the section entitled “Professional Lessons” in said article. I aught to be teaching one or two professional lessons of my own: I am suing. Hah.

  3. iMuslim says:

    ms: jazakallah khair bro!

    Media Guy: I know you can’t afford a decent lawyer… so bring it!

  4. Organica says:

    “until I was basically told that my questioning style sucks, by the cameraman”

    LOL.

    You need to set your crew straight, “Dr. iMuslim.”

    ;)

  5. Yusuf Smith says:

    As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    After trying to hold a few conversations in that noisy hall, I might jump on this sign language bandwagon, to save my thraot if I’m there next year insha Allah.

    When are those interviews gonna be up sis? I see br Yasir’s is up already, any plan to put up the rest?

  6. Unity but not much peace at ExCeL…

    I managed to get to Global Peace and Unity 2008 last year, for the first time since 2006 (and that, like this time, was because I managed to blag a free ticket off another attendee; I couldn’t spare £20 for……

  7. iMuslim says:

    Organica: I know! Bunch of ungrateful subordinates… hehe

    Yusuf: Wa ‘alaykum salam wa rahmatullah

    I have had the same thought before: my friend and I look forward to the day we can continue our conversations uninterrupted when travelling on the noisy underground!

    The interviews won’t be up until the magazine goes live, methinks. So December 1st, insha’Allah. YQ’s clip was filmed especially for MuslimMatters, hence it was released early.

  8. Organica says:

    Blah. Blog some more. I am like bored to death at work. If I have to repeat “THE PENCIL IS ON THE TABLE” one more time, it won’t be pretty!

    I need to move to London. I want some greasy fish and chips!

  9. AnonyMouse says:

    AlHamdulillaah, looks like things worked out for you after all! :)

    BTW, I fully agree with just winging it and not depending on a large group to work with; in my experience, I’ve found that doing what feels right usually works out better than following the rules. Sure, it’s gotten me into trouble a few times, but it’s worth it ;)

    Can’t wait for the next post… reading this one, I felt like I was living out my own dream of being an “on-the-ground” reporter/ journalist/ investigative writer-type through you! :D

  10. Sumera says:

    Good to know you got around :D Look forward to the magazine! (I subscribed :D )

  11. David says:

    You may be interested in the comments left in this thread:
    http://www.mcmexpogroup.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=195&t=9677

    It sounds like the conference was a disaster for global peace and unity. Many of the kids attending the parallel MCM Expo are at a very impressionable age. The harassment and general rudeness exhibited by many Peace and Unity attendees can only have damaged the image of muslims in the eyes of the kids attending the MCM Expo.

  12. iMuslim says:

    Thanks David… I had a read through, and was quite upset that people had been mistreated that way. I actually spoke to several members of both Expos, and received a variety of comments.

    I wanted to leave a message on the board, but the thread is now closed. Is there any way that I can contact them?

  13. David says:

    Well, there’s the excel center visitor feedback address: visitorfeedback@excel-london.co.uk If you want to contact the people who commented in the thread you could join the forum and message them individually, or else start a new thread.

    I was probably being way over the top when i said that the Peace and Unity conference had been a “disaster”, so i’m sorry for saying that. However there do seem to have been some problems!

    Anyway, interesting blog, keep up the good work.

  14. Media Guy's Buddy says:

    Like the blog, how do i get a copy of Sal.am magazine?
    Is it anything to do with the old salam mag???

  15. Media Guy's Buddy says:

    Like the blog, how do i get a copy of Sal.am magazine?
    Is it anything to do with the old salam mag???

  16. iMuslim says:

    David, thanks again for the advice. I have contacted some important peeps at the Islam Channel (sponsors of the GPU) and I hope to hear some encouraging news from them soon, God-willing.

    I agree with you: “disaster” was a strong word, as that was not my own experience. I do regret that there was not more respect shown though, and pray that we all learn from our mistakes.

    MG’s Buddy: :D
    You can subscribe for free via the website. And no, it has nothing to do with the old Salam mag. Besides, we have the dot! Hehe

  17. Media Guy's Buddy says:

    lol Jazeck Allah khair, Thats good me and the old salam mag had history, I’ll def subscribe then thnx.

  18. Media Guy's Buddy says:

    lol Jazeck Allah khair, Thats good me and the old salam mag had history, I’ll def subscribe then thnx.

  19. iMuslim says:

    You still at MG’s house? It’s late! You guys can’t be pulling all nighters now… :)

  20. ms says:

    BTW, you are focusing on domestic market right? Is there an online version or sth?

  21. iMuslim says:

    There will be an online version insha’Allah.

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