Summer is here and we are set to begin “experimenting” with our blog, not to mention we are also looking forward to next year’s convention in New Orleans. The convention will take place February 29 – March 3, 2012. As you may recall, our theme for that convention is “Reawaken,” and the common reader is Natasha Trethewey’s Bellocq’s Ophelia. The planning stages are well underway, and we look forward to seeing many of you there. Convention is such a wonderful experience and a great opportunity to be around fellow, like-minded devotees of English talking shop and being all literary.
Speaking of convention, we asked your newly elected SR’s and ASR’s to write down their experiences from this year’s convention in Pittsburgh. We have collected those stories and would like to start sharing them with you now. This will be the first of many feature presentations on our new blog.
If you have any ideas or suggestions for the blog, we would like to hear from you as well. Please feel free to email them to Jarrod (firstname.lastname@example.org) or me (email@example.com). We will gladly give you positive feedback on your idea. Please keep in mind that this is a blog, and we are looking for “blog-type” postings: “informal write-ups, reviews, personal stories.” Your SR’s and ASR’s have submitted many suggestions, and we will continue to experiment and let your blog transform and grow into a blog we all will want to follow. I think Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best, “Do not be too timid or squeamish in your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better” (Journals, 11 November 1842).
So please sit back, relax, and enjoy the first story from Amy L. Woody, Student Representative for the Eastern Region.
From “Beyond Words” to “Reawakening”
Amy L. Woody
This was my first Sigma Tau Delta International Convention, and it exceeded my expectations in every way. Arriving at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown, I was more than pleasantly surprised by the interesting architecture and even more interesting people that Pittsburgh’s Cultural District had to offer. It was the perfect setting for feeling inspired, and Jacqueline Woodson was the perfect opening-night speaker to kick that inspiration into overdrive.
Thursday, I found myself surrounded by the best people that English Departments all over the world have to offer. I spent the morning listening to our Student Leaders give advice about publishing and grant writing. I met more people waiting for the elevator than probably any other time during the conference, and though I was annoyed to be waiting at the time, I would not trade those five-minute elevator conversations for anything. When else do you get to meet people from all over the world who are happy to laugh at your literary jokes or join you in writing a poem about the way you almost got smashed by the elevator doors?
The energy was ever-palpable. Even at my 8:00 a.m. presentation, the students were engaged and interested in the work I had created. It was not a typical educational experience; the people there were so committed to excellence in their craft. Even the “bad poets” read with a commitment unparalleled, that I could not help but want to give something back to them, represent them. I had considered running for Student Representative before I left for the convention, but, it being my first convention, I wanted to see what it was all about first. While there, I realized that I wanted to be more deeply involved with the organization and its people, and thus I decided to run for Student Representative of the Eastern Region.
I was nervous. I wrote and rewrote my speech. But standing up in front of all the students, who in so many ways were just like me, felt more like being at home than running for office. Hearing our former SR, Sean, announce my name was a pivotal moment in not only the convention, but also in my educational career. (A little assuming goes a long way.)
There were more panels and more speakers and more moments to be had on the elevator. Saturday, I attended a panel on graphic narrative and left with a sincere interest in visual literacy. I listened to other members of my chapter present their works, and felt a deeper connection to them as people and academics. Students from the Eastern Region were coming up to me all day Saturday to congratulate me, and I was more than thrilled to have the opportunity to start to get to know the population that I’m honored to be representing. And of course, listening to Dave Eggers speak was not only inspirational, but instantly fruitful. My chapter is already talking about the possibility of a service project involving the Boston branch of 826 National.
Sitting in a shaky sky-bus on the way home, I had visions of New Orleans. I know it’s a year away, but I am enthusiastically looking forward to next year’s “reawakening”!