Tuesday, March 15, 2016

#ACPeh: ACPA 2016 Convention in Montréal Recap!

Hi Y'all! I know I haven't posted in over a week - sorry about that! All of this travel has got my posting schedule thrown off a bit and I've been trying to get on top of all of my other life-stuff before getting back into the groove of posting 2 blog entries and 2 videos each week. But I'm back and feeling a bit caught up on everything, so it's time for a bit of a recap!

A week an a half ago my friends Erin, Cullen and I road tripped up to Montréal! Erin and I were attending the ACPA 2016 Convention and Cullen tagged along as his job has an office in the area that he could work from. The adventure commenced early Saturday morning. We stopped at a local restaurant to get breakfast sandwiches and coffee and we were northbound! My friend/fellow Laser Andrew who is a second year grad at UVM met up with us in Burlington for lunch and showed us around the world famous (or should I say famous in the world of Student Activities/Student Unions) Davis Center!

About an hour and forty-five minutes more of driving we arrived in Montréal and immediately started exploring! Erin and I checked in at the conference center and then we made our way to Montréal En Lumiere (one of my Montréal Bucket List items) which was this awesome free festival of lights in the middle of the city! We spent most of the night there eating delicious Beligian waffles and poutine (another item off the list!), practicing our French (which was mainly me teaching them how to speak French XD), and listening to live music. We attempted to find a bar to stop in for a drink on the way back but after an hour of searching around could NOT for the life of us find somewhere that wasn't super upscale, so we just settled for the hotel bar so we could at least get out of the cold!

We stumbled upon the Montréal Olympic House on our way to the festival!

Grumpy cats.

Our new BFF.

Sunday we had some time to kill in the morning, so we checked out Marché Jean-Talon (Another item from the list! Crushed the bucket list pretty hard within the first 24 hours!) for brunch. We got crepes, maple snow on a stick (one of my fave Canadian treats) and walked around for a bit learning how to say different foods in French. After our little stroll we headed up Mount Royal (the mountain Montréal is named after) to catch a breathtaking view of the city! We finished up the afternoon with some lunch at this neat vegetarian Mexican restaurant and I got the nachos which were INCREDIBLE but also a big enough serving for about 4 other people.

If you opened the drawer at the table you were sitting at you would find tons of notes from past patrons. Such a cool idea - I was in love with it! Of course, we had to leave a note of our own.

After a quick break at the hotel it was time to head over to the convention center for Convention kick-off! We started out pretty low-key by attending a few receptions and the opening ceremony. We definitely needed to take the first night of convention easy as we had a long, long convention chock-full of learning and networking ahead of us.

The opening ceremony incorporated a Native ritual and spoke to the Native Canadian history. 
This was really cool to experience as Native history often gets overlooked in the United States.

The first full day of convention was packed with educational sessions starting right from 8:30PM and running until 4PM. I went to a few very interesting sessions on social media, one of which spoke to what to expect if you or a student of yours goes viral on the internet and what implications that would have on the profession (how would we support our students in that situation?). I had a bit of a life curve-ball thrown at me in the afternoon which made the day a bit weird in general, but I was happy to have my good friend and colleague Erin there to give me support. We spent the evening going out for dumplings in Chinatown (our hotel was right down the street from it) and crashing various receptions (such as the Friend of Ohio State reception, pictured below) to meet new people. We woundup at the LGBTA Soirée later in the evening and danced the night away!

Full-day #2 was more of the same - tons of educational sessions, receptions, and meeting new people from all over the field. My *favorite* component of the conference was on this day - the #HigherEdLive Contested Issues in Student Affairs debates. This was one of the highlighted sessions where pairs of HigherEd professionals debated over hot topics in the field such as "Is having a Master's degree in Higher Education really the best preparation for a career in Student Affairs?", "Is coddling good for students?", and "Is it better to move up in your institution or move out to another institution?". I hope that they continue this session as a tradition at ACPA because these are the things I love seeing discussed in our field! 

We ended the last evening by attending the traditional PechaKuchas put on by several professionals as well as the LGBTA Cabaret, another ACPA tradition. I left these events at the end of the evening feeling more connected to this association than I've really ever felt to another other professional association that I've tried out thus far. I've heard a lot of my colleagues talking about "finding your professional home" but I never really understood that until I attended this year's convention and I have to be honest - it feels really great. I'm hoping to become more involved in ACPA in some way, shape, or form over the next year to see where it takes me.

"We are part of an association that put who we are as PEOPLE ahead of who we are as professionals."

We squeezed one last educational session in on the last morning before scooping up some Montréal bagels (which A. another item off the list and B. OMG ARE MY NEW FAVORITE FOOD OF ALL TIME AJGHLJGHLAJFHKJAS) and heading home to the States. Needless to say, I really enjoyed my time in Canada and would love to visit again soon. I'm looking forward to getting more involved with ACPA as a professional and hope to be a part of the 2017 Convention in Columbus, Ohio!

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