Continuity: Reflections on a Conference

airline Europe map

Leaving on a jet plane was good.  Getting to Europe was even better.  Spending time with amazing people the whole time I was there was the best.  Coming home left something to be desired . . . except for my bed.  It’s hard to beat getting home to one’s own bed.

The SHARE conference was a blast.  I got to hang out with 35 impressive teens and 4 equally impressive adults every day.  My sessions went well; the adults even gave me a round of applause at the end of my workshop with them.  I didn’t really expect that from the teens.  Somehow I didn’t expect Roman history to be that applause worthy to a bunch of teenagers.

I left the conference realizing one of the great gaps in my professional life–continuity of face to face time.  I get to invest in kids around the world every day.  One of the greatest innovations for my worklife is Facebook.  It helps me invade lives on a regular basis.  It lets me have an inkling of what’s going on with them.  It gives me a chance to chat in real time.  However, the face to face time lacks.  If I get to see the same kids every other year, that’s amazing—we’ve seen each other a lot.  Generally, I spend a week with them once every two to four years and if scheduling and travel and health and budget and everything else falls into place, I may see a very few of those kids once or twice between those years.  That is the reality of the world we live and work in.  I accept it.

It left me a little envious of my friend who runs the teen program at the conference.  While she doesn’t live terribly close to any of the kids who were there, she does see the majority of them each year.  What a gift!  Occasionally she gets to spend time with them between conferences–the icing on the cake.

I suppose part of it is a pendulum swing.  More than a decade of serving at a boarding school conditioned me to ALWAYS having the kids I was working with around.  Returning to America and working with some of the same kids (and more) from a distance gives me a new perspective.  I have continuity—largely due to the ease of communication on the internet.  I just lack face to face time.  Knowing that spurs me on to take advantage of the face time I get.  Or at least it should.  And it makes me hope for an invitation to next year’s SHARE conference so I get to spend more time with some of those same faces.

photo courtesey of  Christoph Burgdorfer

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