Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Zen of the Moment.

Team Esoteric Alienated Aliens

I'm at a conference with students, with an agenda that accounts for every minute of the day from 8 am - 10 pm.  Sure, there are breaks built in -- most of them are ten minutes -- and all of them are peppered with a constant "eye on the clock", measuring where the next session is being held, when it starts, and how much time it takes to get to that location.

I have to admit, there are few days during the school year where my morning allows for Matt Lauer, but breakfast at 8 am allowed for that luxury this morning.  It's amazing how much more interactive students are at 8 am, especially with a large buffet of scrambled eggs, french toast, hashbrowns, sausage, and assorted bagels, juice, and mini-boxes of cereal to start their day.  All in all, the day started very positively, even if we were thinking about what classes we were NOT in this morning, what has been planned for us to do today, and how much work still needs to be done on the projects required at this particular conference.

The cellphone reception is sketchy, but I did manage to get a phone call from a student back home who received word of a prestigious college acceptance.  I'm truly not sure where the last year has gone, as that very student was at this very conference a year ago today, and is now looking to attend a college 3000 miles away.

It's difficult to stay "in the moment" when there are so many upcoming moments that require preparation and pre-planning, and exciting news to be shared.

The Zen of the moment.

It's amazing to me how many of the attendees are choosing to spend their ten or fifteen minutes of free time in the hotel arcade.  I'm fairly certain that the claw machine was built in the mid eighties, and many of the "prizes" contained within the game aren't even recognizable characters to the students vying for the stuffies.  Admittedly, it's been less than 24 hours, so the groups from the various schools aren't necessarily gelling with each other, except in the actual sessions.

(It was exciting, however, that people mixed it up at lunchtime and sat with actual foreigners from other groups.)

The conference is shorter this year by a day.  There isn't a scheduled "talent show" or group activity tonight, so most of the unstructured interaction will happen in the pool for an hour.  It will be interesting to see if there are tearful goodbyes and social media exchanges between students before we depart.

Meanwhile, we're headed downtown for dinner tonight, and ice cream at The Creamery, with some silent prayers on my part that this experience allows each one of us the time to breathe, regroup, and live in a single moment, recognizing this conference for what it is, and what the skills being presented here can mean in their lives.

Because a year from now, one of them may be calling me here to announce that they're moving 3000 miles from home to begin a new adventure in the next phase of life.