Thursday, February 19, 2009

I recently returned from my convention in Arizona and I have to say that it ran the gamut of emotions. When I first arrived at the convention, I felt awkward and out of place. Most of the communication academicians running around were sticking to their cliques, avoiding contact with anyone new to the scene. Some scholars were excessively pretentious (not elitist, just pretentious) because of the school(s) they went to or the school currently associated with their name.

While I was fortunate enough to meet a wonderful scholar from the University of Utah on my first night, I still felt out of place. I had not yet met my roommate and I had no idea what I was going to do at the conference, so I ended up going to the bar alone on the first night. Although it sounds depressing, I assure you that it was actually a lot of fun. I've come to the conclusion over my many years of drinking that bartenders tend to be great conversationalists. Therefore, I went to have a conversation and get some beer! Turns out, I was right! We watched the NBA All-Star Games and made fun of the judges the whole time.

After I got done tossing back a few beers, I headed back to my room where I finally met my roommate from Boulder. Dan, my roommate, turned out to be a cool guy and I am glad that I got to meet him. After meeting him, I ended up at another bar with him and his good friend, Merit. I got the lowdown on Boulder's program and finally made some connections while down at the conference.

The next day I spent most of my time checking out panels. Most of the papers were boring, read word for word by the presenter. Only a few papers were novel, presenting thoughtful analyses of various topics and theories. When the evening rolled around, I ended up checking out the University of Utah party and I had a blast. The people at that school seemed incredibly cool and fun. If anything, going to the convention put in a much stronger bid for Utah than I ever thought it could.

On Monday, the day of my presentation, I ate breakfast with Dan and Merit and chilled for the morning. A professor from my school was down at the conference, so we attended the luncheon for 30 minutes. It was incredibly boring and pretentious, so we left it early. Instead, we spent our time out in the sun by the pool, each preparing for our panels. After an hour, I attended my professor's panel and thoroughly enjoyed it.

When it was finally time to present my paper, I felt the same nervous tension I felt before giving a speech as a debater. Before I presented, most of the people on my panel read their papers, each detailing their quantitative approach to organizational communication. While some of the papers were interesting, they did not leave me enthusiastic. Instead, I felt uninterested in what they had to say. This wasn't out of arrogance, but rather out of boredom with the quantitative approach they used.

Since I was the last one on my panel, I clarified the differences in my paper and the others that were presented before me. My paper was a methodological critique using a qualitative approach, so it stuck out in comparison to everyone else's. I unpacked and simplified the paper as much as possible, and I could tell people were interested. When it was all done, I was glad to see that people enjoyed my paper and that I had presented well (i.e. not reading the damn thing word for word!).

In the end, the convention was fun and worthwhile. I was glad I got to attend and even more glad to fly back home first class (as a treat to myself). Still, I must say that academicians can be quite odd, especially when everyone is in the same discipline. I am stable in who I am as a person, student, and a scholar, but I honestly could not believe how rude, prick-ish or bitchy some of the academicians I met were. At least there are a good few that are gregarious, jocular, and downright fun to be around. They give me hope and make me feel better about the work I am doing and where I am headed.

Now, if I could only find more time to work on my research. . .


patrick said...

nice work, my friend! is this helping you at all in your decision on where to go?

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