Is this your first time watching General Conference from a different country? Here are all of our tips for getting the most out of this new experience!
General Conference is an event that happens twice a year, during the first weekend in April and the first weekend in October. For two days, talks given by the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are broadcast worldwide as a way to provide council and comfort to all who listen. For many members of the church, this event also includes fun family traditions and memories.
If spending time with family and friends during the weekend of General Conference is something you look forward to, then being abroad as an English-teaching volunteer with International Language Programs during one of these semi-annual weekends may leave you feeling a little bit homesick. Since this is a common concern for our volunteers, we want to help you still have a wonderful experience abroad, which is more likely to happen if you're creating your own fun memories.
Are there other things keeping you from volunteering abroad? You're not alone. Read this: Overcome Typical Obstacles Keeping You From Going Abroad
Watching General Conference for the first time in a different timezone? Then you'll definitely need to check out our guide with tips for everything you'll need to know about finding it online, especially if you're volunteering in China. Keep reading for even more suggestions about how to make General Conference a special weekend, even while volunteering abroad!
Tips For Getting The Most Out Of General Conference
- Gather Friends
- Set Your Alarms
- Enjoy Snacks
- Watch With Locals
- Take Notes
- Other Tips
Know of anyone else in your group who is interested in watching? The more the merrier! Plan a time that you can all enjoy it together and then share what you learn with each other.
Heads up...in most of the locations that we send volunteers to, your visas do not allow you to share your beliefs with the natives of the country you are serving in. We totally understand wanting to share what you love and believe with others, but during your semester abroad, you'll just have to keep the invites to this party within your own group.
Set Your Alarms
A lot of the countries that we send volunteers to will be in very different time zones than Utah, where the broadcast is held. If you're in China, it will likely be midnight when conference starts for you. But if you're in Haiti ... you're only 2 hours later so it'll start at noon for you!
Even if it starts at a weird time where you're at, it might be fun to set your alarms and watch General Conference live in the middle of the night at the same time that your family and friends are watching it back home. We cannot recommend this to everyone, but the groups that have tried it said this made their experience with General Conference even more memorable. Who doesn't love late night parties?
What is a party without yummy food? Whether you've decided to tune in live for the broadcast, or wait until later, having snacks and treats to make it extra special is a must! Volunteering in China? Add these favorite snacks to your list. Are you in one of our European locations, like Lithuania? Make sure you try these treats!
An easy thing to do that will keep everyone awake and alert, is to pair specific snacks with words or topics that you know the general authorities will be addressing in their talks. For example: atonement=popcorn, prayer=chips, faith=donut, priesthood=chocolate. Then, when that word is said, everybody can get a bite or handful of that snack.
Watch With the Locals
Although the restrictions of your visa keep you from being able to share your beliefs with the locals outside of your religion, they don't keep you from participating with the congregations in your area. All of our volunteers are able to go to church if that is something they are interested in doing during their semester abroad. Here's instructions for how to find a church no matter where you are in the world.
Some of our volunteers live really close to local meetinghouses, so if you're in one of these locations, then consider watching it with your new ward or branch family. They may be watching the broadcast live if the timezone isn't that different, like how it is for our volunteers in Mexico, or meeting the following weekend to watch it together. This is an especially great option if your wifi is slow and you'll have a hard time streaming the talks.
There are so many different ways to effectively take notes, but no matter how you do it, you'll be able to better remember what you learn and what you decided to do as a result. Another plus? Taking notes will help you stay awake! Here are just a few of our favorite ways to record what you learn.
Start With a Question
Most likely you've heard this before, but everyone says if you watch General Conference with a question in mind, you'll get an answer. Want to try it for yourself? These could be anything like, "What should my priorities be after returning from my semester abroad?". "How can I strengthen my relationship with my siblings?" "What can I do to better enjoy this phase of my life?" You can have a different question for every session, or just stick with the same one for all four sessions. Then write down everything that sticks out to you as a possible answer to your question. You'll probably learn even more than you were expecting to.
Summary and Quotes
Want to get something out of every talk given? Writing down the quotes and ideas you want to remember from each one is a great way to do that. Sure you can always read through the talks again on your own, but there is just something about recording your initial reaction and promptings to their counsel that is extra special.
Did one of the general authorities extend an invitation? Write it down and keep track of all the things you are encouraged to do throughout the sessions. Even if there isn't a specific invitation given, it would still be neat to come up with something you want to work on after each talk.
Wondering what time it will be on? The morning sessions always start at 10 AM MST and the afternoon sessions start at 2 PM MST. Each session lasts for two hours. Every April there is an additional session for priesthood holders and in October there is a women's session, both of which are held on Saturday at 6 PM MST.
To find out what time it will be live where you're at, just do a little Google search and it'll do all the calculating for you.
As a volunteer, you may end up in an area that doesn't have the best wifi, at least not fast enough that you are able to stream the talks. If you're worried that the wifi might go out while you're trying to watch the talks (we know nothing is more annoying), then just wait for a couple of days after General Conference has finished to download the talks you want to listen to. It may take a while but will be worth not having the videos cut in and out while you're trying to have a spiritual experience.
Ready to start your own experience of volunteering abroad?
We have countries all over the world that you can choose from for your semester abroad, and the representatives in our office will help you through the entire application process. Click the button below to get started: