First Time Over the Falls - NACADA Regional 2010
By Veronica Rahim
Upon crossing the border into Canada from Buffalo, NY, I received a warm welcome as the American, Canadian, and UK flags waved an emphatic, “Hello!” This was a trip of many firsts for me, which stirred a variety of emotions: nervousness, excitement, and anticipation! My imagination tells me this feeling is equivalent to anyone who was going over the Falls in a barrel – okay, this may be a stretch, but indulge me! For the first time, I was entering another country and presenting at a Regional NACADA Conference, all by myself. I know this makes me sound like a 2-year old in a Pull-Ups commercial, but I can relate to the feeling of pride and independence that is associated with that experience. I felt that same thrill when I received the $200 grant from PACADA to supplement this trip and a month later, read that my presentation proposal was accepted, which marked two more firsts!
Arriving at the conference location, I was informed of the history of the Crown Plaza Hotel, built in the 1920s, which had been graced by both royalty and cinematic celebrity and now. . . the NACADA Region 5 assembly! The theme of the conference: Crossing Borders, Sharing Knowledge was very fitting for the location and the purpose behind the gathering. Therefore, it was my desire to keep this theme in mind when preparing a presentation and interacting with a wide variety of cross-curriculum and cross-cultural colleagues.
On the first full day of the conference the keynote speaker highlighted the significance of borders: “to keep people out, to draw lines of separation, and to set standards.” He focused on the critical need and desire to cross borders. Therefore, I found myself on a dual journey to volunteer and network as well as represent Purdue enthusiastically and proactively, as I was surprised to note that I was the only professional from the West Lafayette campus. This was not a matter to be taken lightly, but an international affair to be taken seriously and enjoyed thoroughly.
The following sessions piqued my interest: Vicky Thomas’ Appreciative Advising and Appreciative Inquiry - University of Wisconsin-Stout; Michelle Ellis’ Share Your Brain: Promoting Collaboration Among Advising Professionals- National Louis University; and Kim Klexton and Kenya Swanson’s Put Your Oxygen Mask on First, So You Can Better Help Others– Wayne State University. I ended the conference on a high note as one of the final presenters! The conference theme was acknowledged in my talk, entitled: Crossing Comfort Zones: Networking for the Social Butterfly, the Hermit, and Everyone in Between. Attendance boasted a whopping 8 participants, who were lively, contributory, and most important. . . awake! Evaluations were very generous and feedback ranged from 4.6 to 5 on a scale of 5.
Upon completion of my formal conference experience, I was able to reward myself by taking in the beauty and majesty of Niagara Falls, up close and personal, on the Maid of the Mist. The mist was as saturating as my passion for advising, the sound was as deafening as my heartbeat while presenting, and the sight was as awe-inspiring as the light we see come on in the eyes of the students we serve. While the same flags that greeted me waved goodbye with a little less enthusiasm, my perspective on advising techniques, exposure to another country, and connection to more colleagues had broadened. These aspects of professional growth are critical to any advisor, especially one who is fairly new to the field. Therefore, as the aforementioned statement fits me like Cinderella’s slipper, I am grateful for the experience and welcome many more that will continue to shape me as a Career Counselor and beyond!
Veronica Rahim is a Career Services Consultant in the Center for Career Opportunities (CCO) at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, where she has served for almost 2 years.