Tiffani Roelle

New-Found Learning

The drive to Denver was early. We left at 5 a.m. sharp. Nikki won’t have it any other way. She also pled no stops during the five-hour drive. Luckily I rode in Nate’s car. We took a bathroom break in Sterling, CO. In the airport we sat around for 45 minutes before our plane boarded. It was better to be safe than sorry. We got through security in a jiffy. I felt tiresome yet excited about attending the convention in Oregon. As the plane descended to land, the view of alpine trees and mountain fronts along the Columbia River was astounding. 

Riding a Tri-max bus from the airport to the hotel exposed me to Portland culture. Local people got on and off at random stops. Throughout the 40 minute bus ride the landscape looked so green. Lush grass patches, evergreen trees, and rolling hillsides that connected the city to the outskirts made it feel like an oasis. As we entered the city I took so many pictures of crosswalks, buildings, and bridge fronts. Downtown Portland felt like no other place I’ve been. The brick roads and vegetation gave the city an earthy feel.  When we got off the bus, fresh air and laid-back people engulfed our group of eight from Chadron, Nebraska.

The conventions theme “Open Book” was highly promoted at registration.  The theme held many different interpretations. Its main focus was connecting language and literature as a work of art. The “Open Book” theme encourages readers to be open and develop their own ideas in the literary world. As a Sigma Tau Delta member I was inspired to read and write with all my potential. The convention had so many great speakers, panel discussions, and workshops. I could relate to every person at the event with my ambition of being an accomplished writer and literary scholar.  The following day I went to a workshop where the speaker, Susan de la Vergne, presented “Business Careers for English Majors.” She informed our generation of college students that we live in the information age. Technology is the main source of relaying and receiving information.  She also insisted that as English majors we are equipped with efficient writing and speaking skills.  In the work place, understanding the nature of literature allows us to read for intent and present organized ideas to superiors, colleagues, as well as the ability to engage an audience. I valued every word she said because I recognize how essential communication is toward preparing for my Peace Corps vocation. Expressing my experiences and skills to my recruiter allows us to work together toward a common goal of serving a host country in need. The workshop also taught me how analyzing information through written assignments is inevitable in the business world. I learned how compatible I am with the information age as an English Major. I was very impressed with all the areas Mrs. Vergne discussed and instructed my generation of future employees.

The discussion panel “Language Matters” was another intriguing experience of the convention. A fellow student presented a paper titled “R u havin trouble w/ ur writing?”  The topic explored the dwindling of “proper” English grammar and linguistics.  The student’s paper caused a lot of contemplation and controversy when the floor opened for questions and discussion.  I found the discussion very stimulating, because the topic took many different directions. A student questioned if expressing thoughts and emotions through abbreviations and symbolswas an evolution rather than degradation to the English language. Another speculated that such textual alterations could identify with the origins of the Morse Code and eventually develop into universal characteristics.  Such discussion panels like this made the convention a privilege to attend and participate in.  Also Hannah Clark represented Chadron State College with her Original Fiction titled “Husbandry.”  Supporting and experiencing Hannah’s contribution was a special feature of the convention. I discovered the importance of submitting written works to present a better understanding of ideas and interest for future conventions and conferences I attend.

This convention was hosted in the Hilton Hotel, which was huge and fancy. The unfortunate feature of the hotel was that it was spilt into two separate buildings. One hosted the convention while other contained our hotel room.  Downtown Portland had a variety of restaurants to choose from. For breakfast we ate at the famous Voodoo Donuts, exclusive of Oregon. The best place I grew to love was the frozen yogurt place. It was healthy and cheap. In most circumstances I could enjoy yogurt as a midday snack because it was 4 blocks from the hotel. I really learned how to use a city map and understand the tri-max system. The streetcars were free, while bus routes and tri-max costs 5 dollars for a day fee. Portland had green taxi cars too! The convention being in downtown Portland offered great learning experiences within a big city.  I went to the East coast for an Alternative Spring Break in New Jersey.  Our crew had the opportunity to visit New York for a day, but we never experienced the interworking of the city like I did in Portland.  Granted, NYC was a lot busier and intense then Portland, but the convention allowed me to learn how to function and adapt within a densely populated city. I feel more confident and knowledgeable about bigger cities from the ASB experience and the STD convention. The importance of this new found knowledge is the fact that I will be attending the Educations Departments London Study Aboard trip. The metropolitan culture of the UK will be a bit different than America. But at least I got a taste of the Big Apple and learned the ropes of Portland’s transportation system.

The “Open Book” theme showed that speaking and writing are essential roles of language and communication. Success in the literary world comes from shaping ideas and translating knowledge into written works. As an English Major, sharing this form of art and wisdom will ensure the sustainability and development of human literacy. I gained more appreciation for my academic discipline through attending this convention.


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