Monday, April 27, 2015

Beginning Again - Reflections on Edcamp San Jose

This weekend I helped to organize Edcamp San Jose, my first west-coast edcamp. Thanks to an amazing team of organizers, Travis Phelps, Diane Wharton, Mary Fran Lynch, Todd Feinberg and Matthew Cordesand a great group of participants it was a wonderful day.  At the end of the day I was fortunate enough to attend Elana Leoni's session on writing and reflecting. She gave us time to write about the day and encouraged us to be creative with our writing style. 

What follows is the writing I did that afternoon.

She had been to many EdCamps before, she helped organize EdCamps before they were called EdCamps (remember EdubloggerconEast). Back home in Boston everyone knew her. Her EdCampBoston team had been together since 2011. Over 300 people attended that conference and they all knew Liz. But since moving to California, she had had to re-establish herself, start over, begin again. It was a humbling experience. “Don’t you know who I am” she would often find herself thinking. Of course you can’t say things like that out loud. And she knew the answer, they had no idea who she was.

EdcampSanJose was a way for her to start again. To meet new people, to find her place. But it is hard to start again, especially when you feel you have come so far. She knew it was good for her, but still it was hard. The day was cloudy. It had actually rained that morning, an uncommon event in her new hometown. As she started setting up tables and putting out food, she wondered how it would go, who would show up, what sessions would be proposed.

As the attendees arrived, she held out her hand, introduced herself, invited them to fill out a name tag and propose a session. She asked, “Have you been to an edcamp before?” The answer from many was “No, this is my first time.” She could hear the nervousness in their voices and the excitement too. Flipping into her encouraging mode, she assured them that they would have a great day. Reassuring herself as she said the words.

As the room filled it was finally time to do the icebreaker. She thought back to all of the times she had run this ice breaker as she looked out into the room. Holding the microphone and introducing the activity felt familiar (those who know her, know how much she loves a microphone). As people began to introduce themselves to each other, the volume in the room began to rise. The other organizers filled the board with sessions and day was about to begin.

Moving 3,000 miles across the country has not been easy. It has been exciting at times, exhausting, entertaining and fun, but it hasn’t been easy. Beginning again never is. But it can only be your first time once, the least I can do is enjoy the newness and make the most of it. I have to trust that I will find my place eventually. And the journey is half the fun. Isn’t it?

Thank you to all of the people who have welcomed me along the way!
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