Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Women's Conference

Sometimes working at a school brings responsibilities and opportunities you just don't get at other jobs. Tuesday I was lucky enough to chaperon several teenagers at The Women's Conference in Long Beach.

I was thrilled when by mid-day I still hadn't heard the term 21st century skills. Nobody urged me to change with my profession (which I am happily doing, by the way), and nobody discussed library Facebook pages. Instead we heard people discuss women's issues and universal issues of leadership, risk-taking, health, balancing work and home, experiencing grief, overcoming obstacles, and activism. It was a good break from the day-to-day issues to have time to listen to and think about broad issues, the big issues that run over, under, and through my daily life in the library. I realized I didn't miss the Internet Librarian conference as much as I thought I would.

The exhibit hall was a unique experience, full booths of clothes, jewelry, snack bar samples, breast cancer information, make-up, and Barbie. But the highlights for me were:
  • Hearing Katie Couric discuss the failures and perseverance that led to her success.
  • Wishing I could pull up a chair and join the conversation led by David Gregory between Madeleine Albright, Amy Holmes, Valerie Jarrett, and Claire Shipman about balancing work and parenthood, the changes of this balance over the years, and the importance of good communication with your families when choosing this difficult role of working mother.
  • Watching retired school teacher Agnes Stevens win one of four Minerva Awards for her activism. She founded School on Wheels, a one-to-one tutoring service (and more) for homeless children in Los Angeles.
  • Hearing Maria Shriver speak about her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and through her story, remind me how to support my daughter.
  • Listening to Jane Goodall imitate the sounds of a chimpanzee.
  • Chatting with the teenagers about how "amazing" and "inspiring" the day was, and noticing they had a flicker of feminism in their eyes.
I thank my school for sending me to a great conference!

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