I know that up until this point I have been writing mostly in a “what we did on which days” sort of format, and I wanted to write a bit more just to process the whole experience. I often feel like I want to blog so that I can show a few people what we were up to or what we saw, but I also want to blog about how I feel or what I thought about a given experience, so here is part 2. (Furthermore, I am currently wide awake on the flight and feeling like being as productive as I can be, so I’ll be making good use of this local blogging tool for as long as my battery will let me 🙂
Anyway, back to our week. I’ll try to stop using the words “incredible” and “beautiful” for a bit now, because I’m as tired of typing them as you probably are of reading them.
We had such a fantastic time in Germany, as we had anticipated, but we didn’t really completely know the format of our days until we were in the middle of them. Needless to say, the foundation kept us all very busy. We had little to no free time, with the exception of what I had on the last day of colloquium, and spent all of our time concentrated with the same people, the award winners and their families. What I had not anticipated was that the foundation had also invited several of the examiners who had chosen these winners to come and participate in these activities with us as well, in addition to a few other senior scholars from Ivy League schools.
The networking opportunities that were made available to the winners in these circumstances were incredible. I remember on the 3rd night leaning over to Chris at dinner and saying, “How many more dinners do we have to eat with these people?” Now this is just the introverted side of me, because you have to think, we all just met one another a few days before, and now we are doing EVERYTHING together: breakfast, lunch, dinner, outings, colloquiums, receptions, we even stay in the same places. So to some degree, I was starting to feel like I was running out of things to talk about with these people. We had passed the pleasantries a few days ago, like their schools, families, jobs, and I didn’t know if I could keep it all up without a little break somewhere.
But, it ended up being so helpful. The winners (as they were referred to all week), were able to meet one another with an assumed understanding about each other’s level of scholarship, listen to each other present research and participate in discussions and feedback along with the other more established scholars, and also have ample opportunity to develop non-prefessional relationships with one another. So they gained one another’s respect, participated (some) in one anther’s scholarship, and became friends. And with wives and partners participating in the week as well, they were all able to be maybe a bit more grounded than they would have been had they all just met at a conference, and were just trying to impress one another. It was so nice!
From my perspective, it was really great to talk to some of the other wives at this event, particularly the ones who’s husbands taught at Ivy League Universities, and compare and contrast teaching loads and responsibilities. Since we were coming to the conference from a small and relatively-unknown school (in that context), it was encouraging to see the ways that Chris and I are cared for at LCU compared to the stress that the professors and their families encounter at larger schools.
We were so encouraged by the foundation taking an interest in these young scholars, helping them on the front end of their careers, and rewarding them for both the work that they’ve already done and the promise that they see in them for the future. We felt a bit unworthy most of the time, with all of the careful planning and money that obviously went into the event, but we couldn’t have been more grateful.