An Amazing Time at the Conference
Having just returned home from the summer conference in Palm Springs, California, I’ve been reflecting on my recent experience. I had a wonderful time renewing friendships and meeting new members. Networking continues to be one of the highlights of attending the conference.
I learned a few new things, too. Between meeting commitments and my own presentations, I was able to enjoy a few presentations of others. I am continually fascinated at the scale and scope of the research of my colleagues and the teaching tips that I gain. We are indeed a multidimensional collective of bright minds.
The feeling as I interacted with colleagues was one of warmth. Overwhelmingly, people had smiles on their faces and expressed pleasure at being there. Sure, it was extremely hot outside the hotel. But inside, where the temperatures were climate controlled, there was a different kind of warmth: friendship.
As many of you know, we have a long standing tradition of giving a gift to our guest speakers that welcomes them into the ICHRIE circle of friends. The gift is made of frosted crystal and has five generic figures standing in a circle, facing one another with widely arms outstretched. It conveys a sense of welcome and openness. We use this tradition to welcome our guest into the ICHRIE family. I had the honor of giving this gift to a number of our guests.
But I also had the honor of personally experiencing our ICHRIE circle of friends in action. Very early Wednesday morning, I had a kidney stone attack. I knew I had to get to the hospital but the long journey from my room (far back on the 7th floor) to the lobby where I could get a cab seemed just too far to even try because the pain was unrelenting and unforgiving. It was an overwhelming feeling. But as soon as I alerted our ICHRIE CEO, Kathy McCarty, that I needed assistance, members of our circle of friends were quickly there to help. Kathy took care of my morning commitments. Amit Sharma (Penn State and outgoing ICHRIE President) offered to come to my room to escort me to the lobby. He also used the Uber app to secure transportation. Suzanne Bagnera (Boston University and incoming NENA president) joined us as we neared the front of the hotel and she worked with Amit to guide me to a sofa as I awaited the arrival of the Uber. James Williams (U. of Tennessee) happened by and immediate offered to help in any way. I am so very grateful to all of these ICHRIE friends. They stepped forward to help without hesitation. While I was in no position to adequately thank them at that time, I want to thank them via this newsletter. It’s comforting to know that our ICHRIE circle of friends isn’t just a professional relationship. It’s also a circle of friends who will be there when you need them. (Update: I am home and just fine.)
All of these experiences combined is what makes belonging to ICHRIE and participating in the conferences so rewarding. We may be hundreds—or even thousands—of miles apart but our friendships continue as if we were all right next door or just down the hall. We share our knowledge to teach one another and to spark new insights. We share our stories so that others can benefit from our experiences. And we laugh, hug, and cheer one another onward as we honor the person behind the professional. We are indeed blessed to have such a meaningful, caring circle of friends. I’m glad I attended this conference and I look forward to next summer’s conference in New Orleans. I hope to see you there!