What does having pink Eye, a hacking cough, a raging fever, and Chicago have in common? I wondered the same thing as I readied myself for presenting on a panel in Chicago, at the International Writing Center Conference November 10, 11th, and 12th.
How surreal I thought, this was my third time going to Chicago as a presenter from ALA, NCTE, and now IWCA – and whoa, I NEVER would have thought Chicago would become as familiar to me as New York, or anywhere, to that matter. Yet I love it all revolves around literacy, reading, and educating, and passing on strategies to others. AND reuniting with an amazing colleague of mine, Natalie Dorfeld AND having the opportunity to present on a panel with her – my first in who knows how log (six years? from living in Mexico?! )
I grabbed the pink eye drops, I loaded myself with cold medicine, I left at 3:30 AM and hustled to BWI and snagged my space on the plane and made it to Chicago and – yeah. SNOW. TONS OF SNOW. LOL. Amazing. On many levels. It seemed even surreal to see Natalie stride into the Sheraton like we just had done this six years ago and seemed that it was maybe a few months, lol. Meeting her friend Jeni also on our panel, it was awesome and just natural to see how we just hopped into the roles of presenting and were confident it would just occur successfully and would be amazing- I like that.
What is the purpose of presenting and traveling to conferences? For some, just a joyride where they do very little and bring back even less. Yet, the individuals that truly get it have a chance to network, give back, and grow from the experiences that we continue to
Jennifer ToneyIWCA Fall 2017 Powerpoint
Beat Poets . . (Natalie’s amazing presentation)
accrue in education, and find the nooks and crannies of info that people are practicing every day and make extraordinary things happen, motivating you to do extraordinary things where you are.
The coolest thing was the theme, of Spies, and setting up our presentation about being double agents, how educators have to play multiple roles constantly. Maybe the coolest thing was the chance I had to play a small part in passing a password to someone, receive a clue, get a puzzle piece, and on throughout the conference, and how others played this to the “T” and did it so well. LOVED.
Recalling the setup for the conference I think the literal “feet” we cut out, and we laid down, leading to our conference just was a pre warmup for how easy we fell into the way we presented our info, and were able to cover everything from elementary, to high school to college in one presentation, and how awesome it was to receive questions and inquiries, right back about what we do creatively and how we invent and reinvent ourselves every day – that separates as from teachers and being educators.
I have to devote a whole blog post to the keynote speaker, Neisha-Anne Green – I was taken aback, frozen, and accepted alot of content she provided and wow, heavy stuff. Can’t go into here, separate blog post. Must. Will. Stay tuned for that because it was powerful.
I loved seeing the amazing view from Natalie’s brother’s amazing suite in Chicago, loved the discovery of foods only found in Chicago, loved the feel of having something to share with others in a city, and country foreign to me (yes, the U.S. is still a little foreign to me after six years in Mexico).
AND WHOA. I picked up the BEST coat EVER for winter, as I have enough winter clothes to fit into my hand upon coming to Chicago, so I went to Target and no kidding. HANDS DOWN the warmest coat I found to date, it AMAZING. This is all I
know about it. Made by Champion, sold at Target, Polyester lining, 100% Nylon Shell face, made in Vietnam, you put it on and it hugs you closely and does not let ANY cold in AT ALL. Yes I wish I could have found a jacket made in the U.S. that made me feel this warm, and doing so in Chicago – this was one of the best finds ever. Water repellent, snug, warm, and just – thank you Chicago.
I liked returning knowing the Conference was amazing due to the individuals I presented with, as well as the dynamic people I met in workshops, those working in Writing Centers, and just overall, meeting so many people rising about the mundane paces of life to do some pretty extraordinary things every day.
So the pink eye disappeared, the cold slowly receded, and as I was the last to return to Delaware, the horizon was bright. Thanksgiving, I am lucky enough to have friends I presented poetry with at the American Legion IN MEXICO, now studying here in Ohio, and hosting them for their FIRST THANKSGIVING in the states at my place, with my dogs FROM MEXICO, and just – wow, things have a way of turning on their heels and leaving you wondering HOW this is all happening.
Saturday is the return of a Seaford run a thon series (The 2017 HEROn 5k walk/run) we started before I left for Mexico, and being able to see some amazing coaches that changed the lives of so many and representing the venerable Coach Vince Morris, and just yeah some things are a blur but it takes awhile for you to catch up to the blur of how great things are and unexpected they can be.
Everyone should do this activity for their Thanksgiving –
Looking at so much around me, there are so many individuals out of touch with the human experience and a human connection, and yet, we have the chance to appreciate the constant pockets of friendship and express them in ways every day – we should take advantage of that every single day.
That in itself is enough to be thankful for, and there is only more to come.