NECC to me: Ten of my takeaways

My Leadership Day 2008 post

Note:  7/ 7/2008 – This post is revised.  I was exhausted after NECC and feel that my wording should be more improved now that I've had time to reflect.  Thank you for your comments.  None of us are perfect, particularly me.  Thank you for making room in your rss reader for a flawed person like me.  😉

Many people have reflected on “their” NECC experience.  While I was at NECC, to me the most important thing was to focus on sharing and sending out as much as I could with those not there (or with my future self.)

Here are my thoughts:

1 – NECC is Overwhelming
Julie and I helping teachers interested in flattening classrooms to meet one another.No one can be everywhere.  And with the total overwhelming fatigue that sets in after the first few hours, I doubt any of us are at our 100% best anyway.

I'm going to spend practical time going back through and viewing ustreams and blog posts about the content that was shared.  There was a lot of great stuff, and I a particularly enjoyed Chris DeDe‘s presentation on the evolution of assessment.  It was brilliant and I felt my own educational viewpoints evolve as I heard him speak.

I also heard that Hall Davidson‘s cell phone presentation was amazing and am looking for the ustream of it.

At edubloggercon, I enjoyed the Web 2.0 smackdown (the great links are on the page– the world wide participation was awesome.) Joyce Valenza and Blogwalker took great notes of the session.

Web 2 keychain from joyce valenza

I loved Kevin Hunnicut‘s Web 2 keychain (shown above courtesy of Joyce Valenza), it is worth forwarding through the ustream recording on the wiki to see him describe use of this amazing tool!

2 – Time to Rename
With the increasing focus on global connections and the second day keynote of two amazing Canadian educators, it is time to either:  1) rename necc the ietc (international education technology conference) or 2) start a separate international conference that is either held in conjunction w/ an existing conference each year or is merged w/ necc. 

3 – Remember Interpersonal Skills
To say I was quite annoyed at the bloggers who blogged publicly asking Steve Hargadon to state his relationship w/ Pearson (there is none) instead of walking up to him and asking (as I and some others did) was dissapointing.  (Ask before you blog!)

Bloggers should understand that once it is blogged, it cannot be taken back, so as a good journalist would do… go to the source.  Ask, then blog.

So, this is not a defense of whether Pearson should be there or not, just pointing out that Steve has done a lot of hard work and should have been asked before being blogged about.

3 – It is about the students.
I loved meeting the students.  I loved their voice.  What is wrong with that?

4- I feel so unimportant. and yet…

When I go to NECC, I always leave feeling very very small and like I have a long way to go.  I hate to say I feel unimportant, and yet, my own contribution to this web 2.0 movement is such a small blip on the radar.  And I do feel pretty unimportant.

And yet, my part is so very important to my students.  I love them and am delighted to be their teacher.

Those who leave a legacy are those who:

  • Intentionally seek out beginners to encourage them.
  • Intentionally welcome beginners and all people.
  • Look others in the eye and take a moment to listen when they meet them face to face. (This one was hard while getting ready for sessions.)
  • Treat others with respect in their words and actions.
  • Understand the power of the written word and take what they blog very seriously.
  • Blog the truth and not accusations that may or may not be true.

This is a challenge as the email gets fuller and there are more people who know you, however, it is part of what I aspire to be.

 Thanks for saying “hi”
I'm so thankful for all of you who came by and introduced yourself and said hello and told me your story. 

I was also so amazed talking to bloggers like Dean Shareski, Jo McLeay, Julie Lindsay, Scott Meech, Lisa Parisi, Kristin Hokanson, some really amazing middle school teachers, elementary teachers, and others in brainstorming how they can flatten their classrooms across subject area.  As a whole edubloggers are just great, humble, wonderful down to earth people.
Mark my words, some people are just emerging into Web 2 right now that will literally change the face of education.  Don't discount the beginner.

No one “owns” the Web 2 story
Sitting on a Classroom 2.0 panel with Steve Hargadon, I heard a person beautifully describe Web 2.0 that I had never met.  I didn't know her.  But the way she described it was so amazing and wonderful. It was then that I realized that none of us “own” this story.

Web 2 is growing far past the ability of any of us to lay claim to it and really it is quickly merging into Web 3d which is quickly becoming a topic of interest.

5 – The Redefinition of Computing
Cell phones, ipods, and other handheld gadgets are rapidly moving mainstream as IT personell realize the struggles created by shrinking budgets and the futility of spending money on voting devices, when students who have cell phones can do the same thing using polleverywhere.  This is why I think “computing” should come out of the name of the conference.

I heard it said that “in the 90's content was king, now contact is king.”  I would add, it is less about computing and more about contact.  The content should still always be there, however, contact is very important!

6 – Meeting Face to Face
Meeting someone face to face does something.  It changes the relationship and for me, it almost always improves it.  There is still a really long list of who I want to meet, but also, this includes people I want to “help discover” and bring into the radar of the edtech community.

Meeting people face to face helps establish trust as well as idea generation when something “clicks.”  There is value in this.

7- The evolution of assessment
Chris DeDe‘s presentation on the evolution of assessment was truly a hinge point for me as he discussed River City and the research emerging from this 3D immersive environment. (See multi user environment paper.)

I've been looking for the 3D maps that he used to map stronger students and weaker students but cannot find them.  The whole idea of data mining wikis and other tools in order to get at student behavior more readily is very attractive to me.

8 – The Ascyronicity of Conferences
Talking live on edtechtalk via cell phoneTo me, the great challenge of conferences is making them evolve into both sychronous environments and asynchronous.  As an ISTE member, I think I should be able to attend NECC all year long.

With 100 volunteers this conference could be ustreamed and affect many.  It could become part of iste membership and provide far reaching benefits for many.

There is an inherent selection process that goes on for those who can attend NECC. 

I literally have to work and speak at conferences to save all year long and send myself to NECC because it is not in the budget for our school.  Is it worth the effort?  Yes.

However, there is a great need to podcast and stream sessions and I believe it can be done in a way that is open and yet still preserves the value of the NECC conference.  I believe if people could see for themselves the sessions at NECC, that it will make them want to go more.

It will also include those who need the pd.  There is a digital divide between those who can go to necc and those who cannot and if we talk about digital divide… we need to bridge this one as an example.

9 – The hypocrisy of our delivery methods
We talk about engaging, interactive spaces and yet, there is way too much lecture still.  We need backchannels and meaningful ways to engage learners.

It is so ironic to hear the profound lectures on how sage on the stage doesn't work.  And yet, the actions of those lecturing show what they truly believe.  This evolution is tough and none of us have the answer yet for how this engaging experience for massive groups of people should look, but we still need to work with it.  (I mean, who wants to experiment w/ a keynote!?  High risk!)

10 – Necc 2009
So, to make 2009 be what we think it should be, it is time to suggest things now.  Fill out the surveys that they e-mail to you.  Talk to Steve about edubloggercon.  Tag it Necc2009. (Hey, so here's my Necc 2009 page like we had for necc 2008.)

So, enough about what “I” think.  The NECC experience will be as diverse as we all are and each person must decide for themselves what things are worth their own time in light of their own jobs.

We have a lot of work to do.

It comes down to:  what will help me be a better teacher?  What will improve my classroom? What will enhance the lives of my students?

I'll work to share some of these things with you soon.

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25 thoughts on “NECC to me: Ten of my takeaways

  1. Thank you, Vicki, for putting together such a heartfelt response to your experience at NECC.

    Even though I wasn’t there, I followed Ustreams and poured through the program.

    There does seem to be an “in” and “out” crowd in the EduBlogosphere, and there, apparently, is one in the SLedusphere.

    You have the best approach, and it is the one I try to adopt as well; there are a lot of people who appreciate our work, and we appreciate their kind words, but at the end of the day, it is the students who matter most.

    For whatever it is worth, you are one of my shining stars. You are someone who shares what is out there with people who know little to nothing about it; you donate your time (time that could be spent doing a majillion other things) to make student learning better.

    There is a great divide between the people who TALK about teaching with technology and the ones who DO teach with technology. The ones in the trenches are never part of the in crowd; they simply don’t have time to market their genius, and, thus, are not on the “A List.”

    In your career, you have managed to do both, and are on many of our A Lists.

  2. I don’t think you need to change a conference title because attendees come from other countries. That would mean that no conference anywhere would have any distinct identity. I am quite welcome, for example, to speak or attend EuroLogo, despite not being a European.

    You may have noticed that ISTE is playing down NECC. I imagine that the conference will eventually become the then meaningless acronym, ISTE. One look at the conferene signage and there is plenty of subtle evidence of the shift.

  3. I am fairly new to the edublogosphere and appreciate your reflections on including the beginners in the conversations. We all have to begin somewhere. I’m glad to step in and contribute where and when I can. When others make me feel welcome despite my inexperience it fosters excitement and gives me the encouragement to keep on. I may not keep on to the same extent of others but everyones roles are different and we’re all doing what we can for children and education.

    Regardless of inclusion or exclusion from the famed, I am glad to be a part of all the conversations that will hopefully one day be the systemic change needed to really alter the educational institutions of today.

  4. I wished I could’ve gone to NECC. I’ve never been. From my blog reader you’d think that NECC is as much about inter-blogger drama as it is about improving education. Yours is one of the most balanced and humane reflections on the conference that I’ve read. I appreciate your thoughts on improving conferences, education, and interpersonal communications.

  5. Vicki, thanks so much for your part in sending the EduBloggerCon and NECC south and erasing the borders between us making this a worldwide event for all edubloggers and educators.

    ¡Muchísimas Gracias!

  6. I hesitated to come up to you and tell you how much I have learned from reading your blog, but I got up my courage. I am glad to read here that you enjoy hearing from your readers.It was my first NECC and I learned so much. I have been using some of the tools, but now I need to take the next step and transform my classroom. It will take some thinking. I also appreciated the session on connecting classrooms; I am so excited to get started on our project.Thanks so much.

  7. Vicki,
    I remember that through YOU, I was “participating” in NECC 2 years ago, while being vacationing back home in Argentina. You made it possible for a newbie, thousands of miles south of the border to feel connected by summarizing sessions, linking to podcasts that were being recorded of presentations and being a “hub” for non attendees. Two years later, we have tools, such as twitter, Second Life and ustream that allowed non-attendees to become part of a conversation. Just as I was reading how many attendees felt overwhelmed and on overload, I had similar feelings trying to “catch” and participate from afar. There were so many places to connect to, being offered, backchanneled, ustreamed, “second life-ed” that a certain anxiety started creeping up. Where to start, where to go, where to participate, where to add to a conversation? Am I missing an opportunity? Here? There?
    I intentionally walked away from the computer several times…

    Claudia Ceraso, from FCEblog , and I have met for the first time F2F here in Buenos Aires. We met in a cafe and started chatting and before we knew hours had past. you wrote:
    Meeting someone face to face does something. It changes the relationship and for me, it almost always improves it. There is still a really long list of who I want to meet, but also, this includes people I want to “help discover” and bring into the radar of the edtech community.”

    YOU are someone, I wanted to meet f2f for some time now. We are geographically so close in the US, we should be able to find a way to make it happen 🙂
    Thank you for this reflective post.
    Silvia Tolisano
    aka Langwitches

  8. @beth – Thank you for your encouragement and for your amazing part in the panel discussion. I look forward to so many amazing things together! I’m amazed at your work in this area.

    @gary – Takeaway #2 is perhaps the least important of them. Not willing to debate it, that is for sure. Just to me, if Iste is truly Iste – it should be reflected somehow — with an “international” hotspot designation each year or something. Also, the word computing is really not accurate either.

    Anyway, it truly was an international conference and I’m not one to debate semantics. I just think the shift is happening and hope more people globally will begin to understand that.

  9. Vicki,

    I was not able to make it to NECC this year but am anxiously awaiting next year’s as I will make that one. I loved the liveblogging, updates of what we missed, and the ustreams. Your blog post is wonderful, right on the mark, and another example of why I named you a favorite of mine in that upcoming article. You are inspiring to a great many.

  10. Thank you, Vicki, for another post that rings true. After reading many of the NECC blog posts, I was feeling discontented. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but earlier today, after reading a few other posts about “who’s in, who’s out, who’s cool, who’s not good enough, smart enough, etc. etc.” I thought maybe I should take a break from blogging (even though I have very few readers anyway, the ones I do have are always very kind and positive, and I feel it has been an important part of my recent professional growth.)
    I am not the most articulate blogger. Most of my posts are written late at night, after a long day of work and family, eyes stinging with tiredness, because I want to share what I am doing and learning. I want to be part of the conversation so I can learn more and become better. I REALLY don’t need to participate in the blogopshere in order to be disrespected by fellow teachers. There is more than enough disrespect for teachers out there without feeling it from colleagues, especially those whom I had admired.

    I have a quote taped to the wall next to my desk at work. It says “Remain humble, remain simple. The more you are so, the more good you will do. ” The most important thing is the good we are able to do.

  11. @anne – Your viewpoint is the right one to have — it is about being a part of the conversation and making a difference.

    @mathew – Yes, the inter-blogger drama is ridiculous – tried to steer clear or not post when I was irritated w/ it all. Puts too much focus on the blogosphere and not enough on students. Thanks for the compliment.

    @rob @frank – I’m glad you were included

    @matthew – It is your right to stay as it is mine to go. Perhaps we both made the right decision.

    @diane – Thank you for saying “hi” — I love to hear from readers as much as in finding beginners!

    @langwitches – It is about time for us to make time to say “hi!”

  12. @matthewtabor – I read your post, it was pretty negative. Many of us get a lot out of the conference, however, after reading that you’re not very interested in k12, I don’t know that necc is the best use of your time. With people like Bernie Dodge, Chris DeDe, and amazing others on the docket — I honestly believe that any educator can learn something from NECC, however, we’re all adults and we can certainly make up our own minds. You just seemed very very defensive and negative about necc. Also, know that you are a persuasive writer and that you DO have an influence on others.

    You have the right to your opinion, but the many of us who have to scrimp and save to go to NECC (it is not in the budget of my school) don’t appreciate you lumping us all in together and stereotyping us all. You really talked down to the “lot” of us in your post basically making us feel like idiots.

    So, have your opinion, and that is fine, however, respect those of us that disagree. It is your right to do as you wish but stereotyping is ALWAYS hurtful. And you basically said you didn’t want to go b/c of the people that would be there — that is me and some other people I think are great.

    @louise – Thank you so much for your encouragement and support. I consider you a friend.

    @andrea – Keep blogging. Every so often the edublogger drama emerges — just take it for what it is and keep focusing on what is important. You and I both blog in the same state!

  13. Vicki, you make some great points. #8 really rang a bell for me because I will need to back and watch the uStreams of the sessions I missed. I’m glad someone was there to provide this opportunity for me.

    I still think there are “big names” but to me, those are the people who have been presenting, sharing, and learning longer than I have and more exposure in the Ed. Tech world. In most cases, they are tech. directors or people leading other teachers in their daily job. It’s a job I hope to be have some day. I jumped into the EduBlogosphere to learn what blogging was so I could try it with students. Since that time, I’ve read so many great posts that have made me think. I believe I’m a better teacher for it and because of that, my students benefit.

    You were one person I wanted to meet at NECC and I briefly introduced myself in the Bloggers Cafe during the closing keynote. I’m looking forward to learning more from you in the future.

  14. Vicki:

    Thanks so much for this post. I wasn’t able to attend NECC this year, but kept up through the many blogs.

    I was disturbed by the “vibes” I was getting from many of the attendees. It was beginning to feel like an us vs. them atmosphere and I was heartbroken.

    I hope that after people get home they will have time to think back on the real meaning of the conference – to help kids. I’m afraid that we tend to forget that was the reason we all went into education.

    Maybe it takes something like this NECC experience to bring that home again.

    Thanks for all you do. You made this novice blogger feel very welcomed last year when we met at NECC.

    Danita

  15. I’ve been pondering your post for a bit now and hesitated to respond mostly because I was not at NECC.
    However, I find myself unable to walk away from a number of things you state in your post because these seem pretty one-sided in many regards — a point you seem to be trying to accuse others of doing.

    First, you seem quite annoyed by those challenging Pearson being at edubloggercon. I personally would have been frustrated by Pearson being there after reading what they said on the wiki. With that said, I would have simply avoided areas in which they chose to be BUT I would have blogged about it because that is one of the powers of blogging that I hear so many defend: the power to voice your opinion.

    You state it is problematic because facts weren’t straight. I’m not going to argue that but I’ll ask you this. What is one of the most important qualities of a leader? Communication. How well was this communicated? It was placed on the wiki but that is clearly a starting point given the plethora of communication modes possible today.

    Given all the modes that are at our finger tips, should this have been a surprise to anyone in the room? Sadly, it seemed, at least from my view from afar, to take many people by surprise, which is in indication that it was poorly communicated. When poor communication occurs, people are prone to making their judgment based upon solely upon what they are experiencing in the moment (i.e. some people become reactionary)

    You claim interpersonal skills. I claim communication skills would have solved 90% of this issue before ever arriving that day.

    I hope you have a chance to look at the wiki and see what Pearson claimed for this day. It really is anti- what so many feel, including yourself, is the foundation for a participatory culture.

    As for your number 3, I’m REALLY sorry but are your serious? I am shocked that you of all people would come on and make a claim about irrelevance. This passing of judgment is something I thought you were against. I simply can’t believe you would claim that discussions about the value of attending or not attending are irrevelant.

    Let’s see. For a district to send one person to NECC could potentially cost over 1,000. Yes, I think I’ll have that conversation. I think I’ll determine whether I send one teacher to a conference or purchase two laptops. Budget is never an irrelevant topic when it comes to education and part of the discussion on the value of attending NECC or not can be tied directly to budget.

    Did they discuss budget? No. I’m not saying that. However, in discussing the value or lack there of, you are essentially putting a dollar figure on the experience. The teachers I sent to NECC this year all seemed to find it valuable. That is merely level one for me — their personal feeling about it. What I’m interested in is how it transforms their teaching practice and most importantly what it does for learning. If there is nothing there, I’ll need to seriously reflect upon the value of sending teachers to such a conference. Perhaps I would have rather bought a laptop for each and spent four intensive days together focusing on teaching and learning within the context of our school. Perhaps I’ll take that money and send them to Science Leadership Academy where they are within the context of a school environment and then have ample opportunity to discuss teaching and learning.

    Oh, as far as it is about the students, I couldn’t agree with you more. Sadly, what I’ve read and seen, it is about connecting and putting a face to a screen name. Granted, this is a small % of the attendees, but I rarely heard/read about students. Now, maybe this connecting is for students but it seemed more about solidifying virtual friendships for personal reasons and even finding where one fits in this small pond. Heck, just look at your first paragraph.

    Finally, your language choice adds to the elitism IMHO, which is one of your positions you wish to fight. For example, you say “average, regular people are doing cool things” yet you don’t want to classify.

    Not to mention, you throw around specific names and then speak in general terms about what I can only assume to be those “average” teachers: Is that helping or hurting this so called problem?

    I truly enjoy reading your thoughts because I always felt you were a passionate teacher that wanted the best for your students and strove to hone your craft for the betterment of learning in the classroom. However, I feel hidden amongst the reflective points within this post are the very things you seem to be against.

  16. @vicki

    I can relate to the concept of the drama. I honestly have felt very cynical of late and I don’t like that feeling — it isn’t me; it isn’t what I am about.

    While I didn’t go to NECC primarily because there was a need to stay in my district for some major changes in technology, I also was some what relieved. I had a sense I would leave more frustrated, more cynical than when I went down there. Sad, isn’t it?

    As for Steve, I couldn’t agree with you more. I don’t personally know Steve but from what I do know through mutual friendships, this is not something he meant to do with harm.

    My point simply was this: communication goes a long way. There is no hiding the emotions that a company like Pearson invokes for so many. With the array of communication devices, I’m simply shocked that these weren’t used to hold such a discussion. I believe that if this was done, there would have been little to no personal attacks regarding Pearson. In fact, I am willing to be there would have been a very healthy discussion/debate that everyone, including Pearson, could have benefited from before the actual day.

    Finally, I knew the link you were referencing and I had already read the post. I didn’t miss it. However, in reading your point, it seemed to be your were indicting anyone that discussed why they did or didn’t go to NECC by calling the conversation “irrelevant”.

    The thing is the reason why I respected you so much from when I first found myself reading you was your focus on the classroom: students, leadership, learning and teaching.

    I know hearing you say you are “moving on to what is important to you, my classroom” is music to my ears.

    With much respect —
    Ryan, an educator and proud of it!

    PS: Teachers aren’t average. That really is my point, too. We are on the same page there. To me, I’ll sit through 100 sessions done by a practitioner than a “Name” any day. Yes, these might not be flashy. Yes, these sessions might lack the refinement of a “Name”. However, they are real. They are doing it. They are the difference makers.

    I appreciate the consultants and what they are doing, but they are a dime a dozen — they are what I would call average.

    Practitioner/Teacher/educator? I don’t need an adjective in front of that noun. They are the ones I want to challenge, listen to, and discuss with every single day. The so called Names are eye candy at best.

  17. @Ryan – The issue I had was not whether people had a problem w/ Pearson — that is for each person to decide, it was insinuating that Steve had a “relationship” with Pearson w/out asking. If Pearson doesn’t use well what footage they took, it is a given that they will never do it again. I don’t fault Steve, who has totally organized this alone, however. That was what I took issue with.

    Pearson is a large corporation and I won’t come on their side in this thing. I just think that bloggers should have asked Steve about the relationship he had w/ Pearson before blogging it on their blogs publicly. I’m not annoyed that they challenged Pearson — I am annoyed that they could have checked things out a little more.

    Ultimately, the whole issue had flaws — I just hate to see someone who honestly was trying to do his best maligned without being asked, thus the interpersonal issues.

    I will say that we need to find ways for our message to go mainstream — many educators won’t believe bloggers, podcasters, etc. but will believe their textbook company. So, we’ll see. The jury is still out on this one. But again, not defending Pearson, am saying we can all do better at communication.

    On the average, every day teachers, unfortunately, if someone doesn’t have a hyperlink, it is hard for me to find them to verify their name, position, etc. I also consider myself an average, every day teacher. However, would saying “so and so is an average, every day teacher” — would that be a compliment or hurtful. I really thought it would be the latter, but I certainly see where you’re coming from that I didn’t “name” the average, every day teacher. I still think that there’s nothing truly average about the teacher who does a great job every day…

    #3 – If you’ll read the article I was linking to, there were some conversations traveling about “Why I’m not going to necc” — yes, necc is relevant, if you’ll read a bit further. However, the blog post I was citing was not helpful. Perhaps I should have put a link in the first paragraph instead of the second — I’ll go back and read that paragraph in St. Louis b/c it looks like you’ve totally misread it, but perhaps I miswrote it! 😉

    I take your post to heart and will do my best to work on my phraseology.

    It was quite irritating, however, Ryan to again, see the “ins” and the “outs” — and I, most certainly, will always feel “out.”

    Sitting around in bloggers cafe signing programs was not what I went to NECC to do, but I guess it was helpful for some.

    I think NECC is very valuable and a great experience. However, this year, the edubloggerdrama was a bit on the ridiculous side and I don’t know how else to say that I’m not going to be a part of it… but then again, by sharing what I have am I not contributing to the ongoing aspects of it?

    I guess so… needless to say, I’m moving on to what is important to me, my classroom.

    I’ll look back again at this post, however, don’t know how to share any more kindly some of my very frustrated feelings from NECC — really, the post was sort of mild.

  18. I am just wondering why you said this:
    Reject arrogant elitism
    People often talk about the blogosphere by talking about who is “in” or “famous”

    And then you linked to 14 people who are well known in the blogosphere, yet did not link or mention any new names??

    I just wonder if you realized that when you posted the article??

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  20. Vicki, I submitted a comment a few days ago on this blog entry. Unfortunately, I can’t find it.

    Do you know why?

    Wishing you well,
    Miguel

  21. @Miguel – I’m having quite a few people tell me that blogger is “eating” their comments. I get such few spam comments that I think if there are a lot of links in a comment that it is getting rid of those.

    But I’m just not sure why. People have often told me that their comment didn’t get through, however, I publish everything unless it includes profanity or is spam.

    I didn’t see one come through on my end.

    This is very unfortunate, I can only think blogger is having a problem as I’ve had more people tell me lately that this is happening. Did you have links in the post?

  22. As a new person to the whole edtech scene, I relate to the overwhelming feeling. I often feel lost in the sea of tech. There is always something new and just when I think I may have a grasp, things change.

    I was not fortunate enough to be able to attend NECC this year, but am hoping to go next year. I appreciated all of the ustreaming you and others did so that I could participate from a distance. I completely agree that there is so much valuable information that needs to be shared with everyone, not just those fortunate to enough to attend.

    It was nice meeting you at the GTA (I’m Nicole from Kansas- we were in the Lovelace group together). I love reading your blog!

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