My first full day at ACPA was very relaxed.
I slept in a bit in the morning to make up for my lack of sleep the day before. I spent some time in my hotel room charging up my introvert batteries before getting lunch with Jen and Alycia, two of my classmates.
We went to a restaurant called Smashburger, which was like a diner-style fast-food restaurant. I got a bacon cheeseburger with banana peppers and onion-ring like things, as well as fries and a Nutter Butter Milkshake. It was all so delicious!
Next our adventures took us to the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum. They had an exhibit with the history of the Louisville Slugger. For like, $10, we got to go on a tour of the factory and see how the bats were made. It was really cool. Different baseball players use different bats that suit their personal style. It used to take a long time to handmake them. But now they have machines that can do a bunch really quickly. I was amazed. After the tour we took some time to look around the exhibit. They had a ton of bats hanging from the ceiling!
After the Louisville Slugger Factory, it was time to head back to the Convention Center for the opening reception and keynote speech. The speaker was a guy named Van Jones. He talked about inequality, higher education and the state of the world. I wasn’t quite on-board with the “tweeting everything that is awesome” thing at this point of the conference, yet there were a few things I found tweet-worthy. Here I will comment on those items, also.
“No one can give a poor child anything that will stop them from being poor… they have to climb the ladder out of poverty themselves.”
I found this encouraging and empowering. I have climbed this ladder. I grew up on the “other” side of the railroad tracks, in section 8 housing, with the most improbably odds of getting out. Yet I was able to work my way through high school, through college, and into graduate school. I can only hope to be able to help others as much as I have been helped.
“I can’t make this stuff up… they have a whole TV station named after a furry little animal.”
This was about some of the more poltically conservative news circulating in our media. I don’t completely remember the context, but the way he said this was hysterical.
“The next generation is graduating off a cliff…”
So is this current generation. It really scares me how many of my former classmates don’t have jobs because there is nothing available. Yet beyond jobs and economics, they’re socially graduating off a cliff. So many students haven’t learned the lessons about failure and perseverance at any level of education. When they fail after graduation, they don’t know what to do, and often struggle with picking themselves up and moving on.
“Nobody wants to be outreached at.”
I think this is incredibly relevant to so many different areas, whether it be education, church or business. So often we focus on outreach opportunities that reach to groups. Instead, we need to be focusing on relationships with people.
All in all, Van Jones speech was fantastic. It reminded me so much of why I am in this field. I care about people. I care about justice. I have been able to achieve so much, but only because of the things I have been given, because of the people who have helped me. The only way I know how to pay that back is to help others.
After the opening reception, Jen, Alcyia, Cortney, Kell and I went to The Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. It was a fun time, and great to hang out and chat with people in my program, especially those I don’t get to see often.