After ironing a shirt, but then not wearing it, I met our group (minus Kathy), and we walked over to a local coffee shop for breakfast.
My first thought was that the place was being run by "family," which seemed to surprise Bronson. He said that the one guy had been there six years ago when he was in school there, and that his partner was a woman, who seemed to be his wife.
While the appearance or existence of a wife does lower the odds, I'm never convinced it's evidence beyond a doubt. Hey, I resembled that remark.
I had a sesame bagel with light cream cheese and some "bottomless" coffee.
I really, really liked the presenter of this morning's Plenary session entitled, "Listening & Learning From Community Voices," given my Dr. Nadine Cruz.
She used a lot of slides, which I thought were most effective in the beginning and at the end of the presentation. The ones in the middle, a little less so.
At one point, if I'd've had one with me, I could have issued her a:
When she did it, I looked back at Patti (we weren't sitting together) to see if she'd noted it, as it was one of the things we talked about last night when we were lagging behind the others during our walk.
At the end of her presentation, it was opened up to questions from the audience, and I was the first one to ask a question and it was about a table she had drawn containing four quadrants: "s-l" vs. "S-l" vs. "s-L" and "S-L" (the last of which she referred to as "The Holy Grail).
My question was: "Would you say the goal would be to have 'thick' (a term she'd defined in her presentation) and a balanced number of incidences in each of the quadrants, or rather, to have the majority of incidences in the 'Holy Grail' quadrant?"
I wanted to follow-up with a question on her response, but I deferred to let others ask questions.
I hung out by myself for lunch, checking e-mail and my blog before walking over to the nearby Hardee's for a Mushroom Swiss burger.
The manager was out in the lobby, and when she got near my table, I said, "Hi, do you have just a minute?"
"Sure," she said.
"I'm John," I said, and as soon as I started, she put her hand out to shake mine. "I just wanted to let you know that in the short time I've been here eating, I've noticed you using these skills, and I wanted you to know it before I fill out a comment card and send it in":
- Nurturing and being respectful of your employees.
- Committed to customer service.
- Appreciating your diverse customer base.
- Leading by example.
"I can see why," I interjected.
"Thank you. It's not my only job, but I enjoy it and I try to do it well."
There was an opportunity to attend three sessions the rest of the day. I attended two out of three, and met with Myra during the last session time.
The first session I attended consisted of a panel of three graduate students who had been working in the community, and as a result of that work, had decided to come back to school for a master's degree.
There were only four of us in the session (in addition to the three panelist): myself, a male staff member from Virginia Tech, a male doctoral student from Bryn Mawr, and a female doctoral student from the Ohio State University. My gaydar was going off left and right on both of the guys, and I had to laugh to myself when during the course of their introductions, one mentioned a wife, and the other a fiancée.
It brought me back to my married days in the closet and how whenever I was doing public speaking, I was always sure to mention "my wife" in my introduction or in making some point in which I could reference her in context.
That made me think about how much "being gay" is on my mind at these conferences, where I am always looking for other people who are "like me." It some sense it feels like an obsession, but I constantly remind myself: the black people seek out and hang out with each other (the African-American lady who came with our group became fast friends with another African-American lady), and let's not forget that all of the straight, white people are hanging out together. It's just human nature.
The second session I attended was presented by two very good presenters, Jeri Childers and Susan Short, and it was entitled, "Building University-Community Partnerships to Support Local Economic and Workforce Development."
Jeri introduced herself first, and then Susan introduced herself. She started of by saying how honored she was to be working with someone as competent as Jeri, and that really, for this presentation, she really was just "the fluff."
They talked about a partnership between the City of Roanoke, Virgina, Virginia Tech, and the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center, and they shared seven success strategies to address the region's economic development and workforce development challenges and the process used by the university and community to engage and develop the community leaders focused on public education and workforce development.
At the very end I said to Jeri, "Thank you for your energy," and then facing Susan, "and you were way more than fluff."
I skipped the choice of a third (and the final) session this afternoon, and Myra and I met instead to prepare for our meeting with the IT guys tomorrow regarding contracting them to create the new Center for Excellence in Curricular Engagement web site.
At just before 5:00, we headed back to Raleigh, with Bronson driving the first half, and George taking over after a quick dinner-on-the-run stop at a Subway.
Back in Raleigh, when unpacking our stuff from the van, I rested my laptop bag against the back right tire of Myra's car. She pulled out and left. I backed out of my spot and then seeing a black blob on the ground near where she had parked, I blinked my headlights trying to get her attention thinking it was a sweater of hers or something that had fallen out of her car.
Only when I got a tad closer did I realize it was not a sweater at all, and it was nothing of hers, but instead my laptop bag, which also contained my digital camera and my iPod. I was sick thinking there was no way she could have backed out of her spot without running over that bag.
I got out, picked it up noting the tire track marks along the front of it, and set it in my trunk, basically in denial, until I got home. The only hope was that when I picked it up, I didn't hear anything that sounded like broken parts moving around in the bag.
At home, I faced the music, elated to hear the music in my iPod play, see the lens of my camera pop out when I turned it on, and see my laptop make it all the way up to the desktop and connecting to my wireless network. Life is good.
Before retiring, I received an e-mail with an affirmation in it from Myra: "I'm glad you came along on the trip. As always, you make things fun and more intellectually stimulating at the same time."
Actually this was my second affirmation of the trip, as I forgot to mention that when I was walking alone with Pattie on Wednesday night, in the midst of one part of our "heavy conversation," she said, "You have much more of a sense of self than I do," which both delighted and surprised me. I mean Patti, is this brilliant woman: PhD, Center for Excellence in Curricular Engagement Director, author, and nationally (if not, internationally) recognized leader in Service-Learning, and to hear that from her, well, I don't know, it just touched me.