Thursday, June 18, 2009

Newcomer’s Orientation

The Newcomer’s Orientation began with a warm welcome to all first-time convention visitors and a brief statement about the history of the annual convention. We were all asked if we like games….I thought, "sure, who doesn’t”. I Love games, especially when prizes are involved, so I joined in the enthusiastic YES. We were then told we would have to count off, one…two…one, two….around each table – this was a little reminiscent of grade school gym class, but I did it and for some strange reason was happy I was a “one” and not a “two”. I guess we all want to be a one, right? We were then told what we were doing – we would be playing a game where you stand in a two circles, face the person directly behind you, introduce yourself and answer a question…the questions ranged from "what are you a veteran of?" to "what would your superpower be if you could be a superhero?" The strange thing was after a few questions (and lots of stepping on other people’s feet when we were instructed to move) I actually understood why we were playing this game. Starting a conversation by introducing yourself to someone is one thing, engaging someone in a conversation is something completely different, especially when that something is something that on the outset seems ridiculous. I met a veteran of “paint,” a grant writer from Alaska who wished she could just appear wherever she wanted to be so she could go to every professional development activity she wanted to and a public art coordinator who I now share a secret handshake with. Reflecting on the game, it seemed ridiculous at the time, but it did facilitate discussion, interesting discussion, and really warmed us all up for the next few days. In the end, we were given this advice: pay attention, listen and get involved in some way.

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