The conferences are probably the most stressful part of being the Tutor/Mentor Connection Research and Networking Coordinator. It is also probably my favorite. I love seeing the conference come together and putting faces with the names that I had been corresponding with over e-mail or talking to on the phone. A new development that I also enjoy is seeing people from other programs whom I usually only see at the conferences and catching up with them. This November Conference was my fourth one that I've attended (which is incredible to me, because it doesn't seem that long ago that I started here). I also love watching people network with each other over the course of the day and know that the conference is succeeding because people are making connections with each other.
I was especially excited to have this particular conference at the Field Museum. There are a number of reasons why the Field Museum was a great place to host it. First of all, the Field Museum is in an ideal spot - linking the downtown Loop with the South Side. Second, we were somewhat able to integrate the front-line staff of the Field Museum into the Conference since many of them live in the neighborhoods that we seek to serve and have kids, friends, or relatives that would benefit from tutoring and mentoring program. Third and finally, the Field Museum is an amazing resource that has the capacity to bring the excitement of learning about science and history to kids all over Chicago.
I think we were able to integrate the possibilities that the Field Musem offers pretty well in the conference. I especially appreciated how Dr. Clinton Nichols, who's an Urban Anthropologist at the Field Museum, put a historical context on the idea of tutoring and mentoring in his keynote address. I was also pleased to see the excitement about speaking with front-line staff of the Field Museum about what they think needs to happen in their neighborhoods. I also was happy that April Richards and Moses Rasberry from the Harris Loan Education Center at the Field Museum were able to show tutoring and mentoring program leaders what the Field Museum can offer their programs by showing their method of teaching with objects that are part of the Field Museum collection (even dinosaur poop!)
I guess the fact that tomorrow is Thanksgiving makes all of us reflect on what we're thankful for and I have to say one of the many things that I'm thankful is the chance to meet all of these amazing people at the conference and be inspired by them. I'm also continuously thankful to be working at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection and that I get to make a, though somewhat small, impact on our greater community.
On that note, I hope everybody who is reading this blog post has a very Happy Thanksgiving!
For more stories about the conference, visit Cassina, Chris, Dan, El, Mike, and Vjeko's blog about their impressions and stories about the conference. Also, if you attended the conference and blogged about it in any way, please leave a comment and let me know who you are so I can point people to your blog too!