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First Mensa activity outside Canada
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2013-07-14 21:27:05 | Washington City, Washington, D.C., United States
Keywords: Mensa, SIGHT
I'm a member of Mensa and one feature of the Mensa organization is very interesting to me: a hosting program for visitors. Although I have sent many requests, I got few responses. But someone in DC raised her hand to host me. Thanks Stephanie! I also accompanied her to a local event last night.

What is Mensa? Mensa is an international organization regrouping people with a specific characteristic. Our characteristic is to have a IQ way superior to the average. The admission requirement is to be amongst the top 2% of the population (in other words, be smarter than at least 98% of the world).

There is the international organization based in London (where it was founded), and in most countries, there is a national organization to regulate membership. People pay their dues to their national organization. In my case, I was member of Mensa Canada for about a decade... and due to my new lifestyle, I transferred my membership directly to the international level.

At the international and national levels, the role of the organization is to promote a good identification of the gifted kids and their education in a stimulated environment, helping to promote the recognition of intelligence as a benefit and stop discrimination where it exists.

At local and regional level, the organization is mostly a social network to meet other people like ourselves, who might have encountered problems like we did. We act as a support network and a stimulating exchange environment where we can freely discuss of any subject. The fact of being admitted within Mensa can have different effects on people. For most people, it's just an acknowledgement of what they already knew.

Mensans are usually very open-minded and can easily accept divergent point of views. Believe me, you need to attend a few Mensa discussions events to realize the proverb 'Great minds think alike' isn't true at all... but discussion and debates are fun when done in respect. It's also much more interesting to play play intelligence-oriented board games with other Mensans, brings the game to another level.

But we're not an elitist club. Most of us don't see us as superior to the other 98%, for us superior intelligence is just a part of who we are... not much more important than having blue eyes or very large feet. It's not because we have a superior IQ that we all use that potential in our work or life. You'll find amongst Mensans people from all ages, all races, all faiths, all types of workers. Some are rich, some are poor. It's like having an association of people with blue eyes, our characteristic is not visible to the naked eye.

One part of Mensa is the Service for Information, Guidance, and Hospitality to Travellers (SIGHT). That is a structure that allows travelling members to be in contact with the local members, to meet and possibly stay at a local member's place instead of going to the hotel, promoting exchanges between members. In Canada and USA, the program is mostly geared to the 'Information' and 'Guidance' parts, not many are willing to host travellers. I hope it will be more opened in other countries.

Nonetheless, I just had my first SIGHT experience by staying with a host in DC, for 3 nights. Stephanie was very generous and kind. She hosts visitors like me a few times a year normally, being inside a structure like Mensa (where our requests for hosting go through SIGHT coordinators) make her more comfortable than other systems like Couchsurfing... plus it has the benefit of meeting like-minded people.

She was going to a local event at a member's house in Virginia (just south of DC). There were maybe 30 to 35 people there. Our host Andrew had prepared tons of food, covering to large tables, plus the wine, punch, beer, sodas, etc. Like most Mensa events, it's pretty informal. It was just a little cocktail buffet where we grabbed food and chatted with other people, mostly standing up, then went dig into another dish, etc. I met lots of interesting people... and since I was the newest face around, I was asked lots of questions... especially after I began taking about my new lifestyle. I met a couple who live part of the year in Mexico... and I look forward to meet them again in November at their home.

If you have any kind of questions about Mensa, don't hesitate to ask me. You can do so here in the comments section or you can write me privately.


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