As most of you who read my blog probably know, this week is the Association of College Unions-International’s (ACUI) Annual Conference in St. Louis, which is hosted by my super talented friend and colleague, Erin Morrell. I, of course, am sitting in my office in Maine (not St. Louis), reading the conference back channel #ACUI13 and feeling very jealous (don’t feel bad for me, I am missing the conference as I am going to Orlando for a vacation with my family at the end of the week). I am jealous, though, not about all the wonderful content I am missing, but the people.
You see, for me, while the things I learn at a conference are great, it is the people that keep me coming back. It’s the tweets, texts, and phone calls from colleagues, now friends, from across the country during the conference that make me miss it the most. Much of the information being presented, sure, I will be able to access or could find somehow. Information is at our fingertips and is more accessible than ever. The conversations with colleagues, the networking, and the peer-to-peer learning is irreplaceable. Yes, we have Twitter, but there is something more powerful about breaking bread together, having informal chats, or just connecting in person.
What I miss the most, though, is the energy that surrounds the ACUI Conference. The sessions, the networking, the reconnecting with friends all help accomplish one thing for me. During this crazy time of year my friends in ACUI Region 1 like to call Maprilay (March-April-May), the conference causes me to re-energize and focus as a professional. It always helps me remember the importance of the work I do and that I have people around me (literally and via mobile devices) that support me and understand my profession. Though I know it is always there, ACUI reminds me of this.
I am thankful I am able to read all the tweets and live/learn vicariously through those who are at the conference.
Friends at #ACUI13: what are you enjoying most about the conference thus far?
What do you gain most from conference attendance?