66th IVSA Congress in Malaysia 2017

My Skaap Tjoppie (lamb chop) Expedition in Malaysia


I had the privilege to go on an IVSA Congress and to go abroad and see another corner of the world.

Just a fun fact to add – this was my first time abroad, on a plane and at an airport. I had familiarised myself well to my seat in the airplane for the last 14 hours and I started to grow on it (Literally, my bum felt like it was part of the seat). Upon landing at Kuala Lumpur Airport I was immediately lost but turns out I only had to follow my fellow South African delegates to our lift. It was quite easy to find our lift – we only had to take a train, 3 flights of stairs, 5 lefts and 2 rights and there our Malaysian Organising Committee stood.

From the airport we went to the hotel in Kuala Lumpur. Oh my and didn’t it look fancy! The same evening, we went out exploring! Interesting fact: Malaysia has some of the best coconut ice cream and chocolate sprinkles! Yes you guessed it we went to the street market just next to the hotel. I was not expecting the normal braaivleis scent in the air, but there was a few funky seafood scents, or whatever it was, attacking my nose.

The next day we were getting down to business, the actual Congress. Most of the Congress was held in a lecture hall in Kuala Lumpur’s Veterinary Faculty. I come from a desert area where 42 degrees are the norm, but Malaysia’s 35 degrees mixed with 99% humidity, was getting the best of me. If South Africa saw me, they would have a solution to the water problem. Our lunches consisted of traditional dishes like tofu, some colourful, very sweet and sticky bread, sticky deep fried fish cubes, rose water and very sweet cooldrink and sadly very little meat! (Like a tjoppie or even a ribbe’tjie, I needed just one). Oh and who can forget the spicy food and lots and lots of curry of which my tummy was not very pleased with.

During the Congress we had a few lectures, I attended a birds of prey lecture which was very interesting. There was also an open discussion regarding canned hunting. People where misinformed about what the difference is between canned hunting and wildlife ranching. The topic of trophy hunting and hunting for meat was also brought up of which the main concern was the welfare of the animals. This is a valid point but then we as South Africans and the Namibians explained how a respectful hunt is conducted and what a big contribution it has to the economy. They got a better insight to what a big role hunting played in South Africa and the opportunities it creates. We also explained the situation regarding canned hunting and that it is being addressed - that it is in the process of declining. General Assemblies were also held which was mostly focused on the future of IVSA and future events that could be held by IVSA.

Sightseeing was my main goal (and to find a skaap tjoppie as well!). We started at the Twin Towers in the heart of the capital. In the twin towers we (4 Brits, 2 South Koreans, 2 South Africans and 3 Germans) found a Mc Donald’s, but “we” opted for the more exotic option. I ordered something, turns out something was broth with half an egg, noodles, 5 thin slices (to be exact) of pork, some green leafy stuff and dreaded chilli. (The dish needed the chilli though and it was the second best dish I ate in Malaysia.) My search for the skaap tjoppie continued!

Next we went to a roof top bar, nothing like Baba’s, Hoofkantoor or Die Dansvloer. There were people in suits staring at this ‘laaitie’ with his khaki shorts and ‘vellies’. This laaitie then asked the barman for a dubble KWV brandewyn (brandy). The barman replied in another language and I left empty handed, because he pointed at something that looked a lot like mild haematuria (Definitely not KWV).

In the middle of our trip we went to the town of Malaca. Intresting fact: this town was colonised by 5 different countries. There was a lot of historical buildings from the Portuguese and Dutch colonies.

The town was also famous for Jonker Street that was filled with street food and small shops. That kept us busy for a while as we were still continuing our search for a skaap tjoppie, until we found the bars which was located along the water channels. Turns out sheep production is a bit of a rarity in Malaysia, but I found grilled squid paired with a spicy peanut butter sauce. This was the best night out for me during my time in Malaysia. We also went to a Mosque, the Kings Place, the Queens Buckle, the Blue building market and a Hindu temple which was located in a bat cave.

The Congress was concluded with a formal dinner. Everybody was suited up and well dressed. We were entertained with traditional dancers which impersonated the different tribes Malaysia existed in the past. A buffet dinner of traditional dishes was set. There was basically three options: spicy, sweet or pineapple. I tried the sweet and a bit of spicy, but eventually just took half the plate of pineapple and stuck to that. Fun fact: Malaysia’s local favourite beer is Tiger and you only get 330ml beer jugs and finally I found something familiar –  satay (a miniature sosatie, the closest I could find to a skaap tjoppie).

I was fortunate enough to attend the post Congress. The post Congress is basically a small 3-5 day vacation where we went to Redang Island of the North-Eastern coast of Malaysia. All in all, this was a very unforgettable experience and I made a lot of memories that I will cherish.

- Willie de Bruyn

67th IVSA Congress in Poland 2018

Once In A Lifetime Experience


The annual IVSA Congress was hosted by Poland in the city of Krakow in 2018. It was a ten-day event, with an absolute jam-packed schedule that had the most interesting lectures and workshops, along with spectacular tours and social events. More than 250 delegates attended the congress from no less than 30 countries around the globe. It was a truly multinational and diverse experience – one that I would cherish forever.

The standard of the congress’ academic component was of a top quality. Familiar topics such as the gut microbiome was delivered in a fresh and paradigm altering way, as well as topics not found in curricula such as apiary health and management. All in all, the delegates that attended the congress, including myself, have been enriched intellectually and professionally. We look forward to take the skills we have acquired forward in our careers.

Naturally, a congress attended by veterinary students will eventually lead to more than just academics and work. The socials that was organised created an opportunity for the delegates to really get to know each other, and in doing so, build the kind of friendships that will last a lifetime. From hiking in the Tatra mountains, visiting Auschwitz and exploring the Wawel Castle to enjoying the nightlife in the historical city of Krakow, it was a remarkable experience.

Would I encourage anyone to go on this congress? Absolutely. Between the international contacts that I have acquired, new skills learned and the amazing times I had, I would not trade this experience for anything. 

- Henry Burnett

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” 
Mark Twain