Between May 23rd and May 26th 2017 at the Dalhousie University Agricultural Campus in Truro.
Between March 11th and 15th 2017 I attended the NASPA Conference in San Antonio, Texas.
Due to a storm in Montreal, on the Tuesday, our flight back to Canada on Wednesday after the conference was cancelled and we didn’t leave Texas until Friday 17th. Our new route home was via Newark airport so we did get a bonus view of New York from the air.
This was my first US Student Affairs conference and the biggest conference I have ever been to. There were 7,000 attendees and the keynote speaker was Anderson Cooper of CNN fame.
I went to some great sessions and learnt a lot of what is happening within Student Affairs across the continent. It was useful to see an alignment between the best practices showcased and the work we are doing on a strategic level in our own institution.
It is not the most sociable of events as there are just so many people there but I enjoyed the Canadian reception and I did meet some interesting new people. It was a great chance to get to know my work colleagues better too. To ensure we made the most of our trip we shared our notes with our colleagues who did not attend and posted them on OneDrive.
Below are a few photos and above is the sunset from my hotel window.
I am starting to think that just like Naomi Klein outlines in The Shock Doctrine, the “shock” of the EU referendum in the UK is being exploited by the establishment in cahoots with the right wing of the Labour Party to generate a leadership crisis. The last thing the British establishment wants on its hands is an anti-austerity leader of the Labour Party who could become Prime Minister and start undoing some of the neo-liberal policies being pursued in the UK.
The last thing the British people need is an opposition fighting among themselves rather than taking aim at the government.
— Jeremy Corbyn for PM (@JeremyCorbyn4PM) June 30, 2016
Hot on the heels of #aacuss16 from the Atlantic Association of College and University Student Services (of which I am the current President) I am off to the cacuss16 conference of the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services.
Although I have been to six AACUSS conferences, this will be my first CACUSS.
Contact me at #cacuss16
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Here is a selfie video I shot this afternoon on my return. Below is the Twitter feed from the conference.
I am an Englishman and a Canadian. I lived in England for my first 38 years and Canada for the last nine. Our children were born in Canada and had never been to the UK, they had not met some of the family and had never even been on a plane.
We decided some time ago it was important for our boys to have some experiences we relished as children as well as visiting friends and relatives we talk to and about and have Skyped with in the past.
We knew it would not be cheap. Flights for four are… guess what… four times more expensive than flights for one – and my last three flights to the UK were paid for to attend or speak at events in London. We saved up and at times had to ignore the absolute craziness of some of the costs (“the hotel in London is how much? An extra $40 night for a Thames view… why not.. it is daft money anyway”).
So we saved, we got passports sorted for the boys (and a Canadian one for my husband) and we headed to the UK in July this year.
We had the most amazing time. We tried to do too much and failed to achieve a couple of things from our list but it was a great experience for all of us.
When I heard that Harry Leslie Smith would be in Halifax on July 15th I was determined to be there. If you have not heard of him, I recommend this video from the 2014 Labour Party conference in the UK.
There are not many people I will endure a two hour drive getting home at 11:30pm for but I guess there are not going to be that many times that Canada’s oldest rebel[1. https://twitter.com/broadbent/status/608114805753278464] will be able to travel across the country. The event, called the Stand up for Progress Tour was organized by the Broadbent Institute and was visiting a number of cities in Canada.
Here are a few photographs I took, click for bigger versions.
There was a panel discussion following Harry’s talk which included:
- El Jones – the Poet Laureate of Halifax
- Catherine Abreu – Energy Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre
- James Hutt – Provincial Coordinator at the Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network
- Costas Halavrezos – Spice Merchant and former CBC Radio Host – moderater
A few questions were taken from the audience but despite a plea from Costas, very few kept their contributions short, and as usual some speeches were given instead of questions asked.
There were some great tweets from the event too:
— Tony Tracy (@Tony_Tracy) July 15, 2015
— Megan Leslie (@MeganLeslieHFX) July 15, 2015
— Monika Dutt (@Monika_Dutt) July 15, 2015
Always powerful El Jones who can't be paraphrased urges us to measure our society based on how we treat our prisoners #standupforprogress
— Christine Saulnier (@cmysaul) July 15, 2015
I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting which helped to remind me why I am involved in politics and why it does matter to people’s lives.
Sometime in the fall of 2014 I heard about a “Local Prosperity” conference to take place in Annapolis Royal in April 2015. It sounded really interesting and I thought I would like to be involved in some capacity. I filled in the form on the website and offered to volunteer. Apparently I was quite quick off the mark and after a phone chat with one of the organizers I was asked to coordinate the other volunteers for the event.
It was an ambitious event. Take a few hundred people to a small town in rural Nova Scotia and add a large number of speakers and panelists from near and far and try to pull off a successful conference. Oh and by the way, we will do it in a recently closed school which has had much of the furniture and other equipment removed. On top of just organizing the conference, many of the sessions were going to be recorded on video, and all were going to have audio recordings made too.
There were times when I worried if the organizers would be able to pull off such a feat – were they being too ambitious? The team effort was amazing though. The logistics coordinator was fantastic and she also recruited many of the volunteers for me. I also twisted a few arms of people I knew to help out in volunteer roles. Chairs and tables had been rented, projectors and laptops borrowed, audio equipment rented and professional videographers agreed to come and film parts of the conference. It was truly a community effort. Coffee and tea for breaks was provided by a local caterer – as were the sandwiches for lunchtime. When we needed a spotlight as the stage was too dark, one was borrowed from the King’s Theatre which is just down the road.
I sometimes experience “volunteer’s remorse” and hit a certain moment when I think “why did I volunteer to do this? I don’t have time. I could be asleep, eating, watching TV or anything else instead”. I hit this moment about two weeks from the event. Luckily that passes fairly quickly and when you get in the middle of an event it is exciting, enjoyable and you get to meet so many lovely people. This event was no different.
The speakers and delegates were amazing. Engaging, friendly, polite and really impressed with what we had managed to achieve. On the last day so many people came into our office to thank the volunteers for making the conference run so smoothly. That was very gratifying to hear.
As well as being a smoothly run event it was also fascinating and allowed for a great deal of knowledge exchange. I have included below some of my photographs but you can also watch some of the keynote speeches and see some of the slides on the Local Prosperity Website.
Another wonderful Moonlight Concert at Ellenhurst in Paradise. The boys decided we should all dress up smartly. The photos in this slideshow are set to the last tune of the evening “What a Wonderful World”.
If no video appears above, click this link.
Inspired by a TED talk about gratitude and how it can improve your life (even re-wire your brain), we have decided as a family to do an experiment during February.
Every day during the dreary (but thankfully short) month of February we are going to identify and choose three things that we are grateful for (and why) and write them down.
So dead simple:
- Every day in February
- Identify three different things
- Write them down
By concentrating on the positive – and having to strive to think about the positive, you can make a deliberate push for positivity.
Tips I have gleaned from other websites:
- Choose the same time each day
- Choose a time that allows reflection on previous day/current day (at dinner, following the gym, following a drive)
- Set reminders on your phone/calendar if needed.
- Get a new notebook or journal to write them in (or a google doc or something electronic if that is the way you work)
- Be specific about what you are grateful for and why
I am grateful:
- For the hug my daughter gave me this morning showing me that I am loved.
- For the thank-you note my boss sent me yesterday. It made me feel like a valued member of the team.
- That I had 10 minutes this morning to do whatever I wanted; it’s been a long time since I’ve just flipped through a magazine.
- That my ankle seems fully healed. Now I can get back to my regular running schedule which helps me feel good and energized.
- For the milk in my fridge and the Cheerios in my bowl this morning. I appreciate that I don’t have to worry about where my next meal comes from.
- That the sun was shining during my walk into work. The colors reflecting off the building were gorgeous.