Saturday, October 1, 2011

Convention Stories

Kelsey Hixson-Bowles
Student Advisor, 2011-2012
Kansas State University

As I slowly come out of my post-convention shock and back into “real life,” I’ve begun to process all the events that occurred. After flying into Pittsburgh and registering for the convention, I eagerly flipped through the program to pick out the sessions I wished to attend. I picked out a few “must sees” and then went to the showing of Away We Go and won a copy of the movie, which I later had signed by Dave Eggers himself! Speaking of speakers, I thought all the keynote speakers were fabulous and inspiring, but I was particularly inspired by Dave Eggers. His tone was humorous, if a little nervous, but his message was clear: pursue your purpose in life. He said, “Never underestimate your words and their power,” which was the best way to end our Beyond Words themed convention.

The bad poetry night and the open mic night were also a blast. Our student leaders really did a great job this year providing fun social activities and a wonderful informational student leadership workshop. My group decided to divide and conquer by sending one person to each of the sessions offered. I went to the personal publication and grant writing seminars, which were both useful in my pursuit of service projects and creative writing.

For those who have never been to a Sigma Tau Delta convention, I seriously recommend it. Bringing so many English scholars together in one place encouraged a think-tank atmosphere and we could almost see the ideas zipping through the air. I know I was inspired by the panel presentation from The College of New Jersey called “Coming to the Convention as a Crowd.” The students and advisors on this panel had so many great ideas about how to encourage service projects, fundraising, paper/panel submissions, and group bonding, all to create interest in going to the convention. The tips I took from that panel are sure to help me in my quest to vitalize the High Plains Region and get more of our chapters to the convention next year.

This year was also special because I joined the list of presenters. I read a short story and gave a panel presentation called “Can a Novel Unify a Campus?” Even though I didn’t bring back a convention award, the experience of sharing my work and research was invaluable and good practice as I move along in my college career and start looking towards grad school. 

Apart from the sessions and speakers, my experience was enriched by the people I met. One night, my group from Kansas State University ate dinner with this past year’s High Plains Student Representative, Michelle Webb. The conversation was lively and the experience of eating a coleslaw and french-fry infused sandwich off layers of wax paper will be in my memory forever. I also had the opportunity to get to know my fellow K-Staters on a deeper level which will help us work as a stronger leadership team on campus. 

The benefits of attending the Sigma Tau Delta convention are innumerable. It’s an experience that I will always be thankful I gave to myself and I hope that next year even more students attend when we take things down south to New Orleans!

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