Friday, February 14, 2014

My Reflection on the Walter Ong Conference

Session 3A Panel
Left to Right: James Jarc, Dung Tran, Aaliyah Miller, Jael Cooper
It's hard to believe that this time last week I was on a plane flying half-way across the country to Spokane, Washington for the Walter Ong Conference, Technology, Rhetoric, and Cultural Change: Walter J. Ong, S. J. in the Age of Google, Facebook, and Twitter, hosted by Gonzaga University

I was hoping the weather was going to be a little warmer, but that wasn't the case. As I left the plane, the snow was lightly falling and although it was picturesque I just wanted to get to my hotel room and catch a nap before the conference reception and evening plenary.  

As soon as I got to my hotel room I couldn't sleep. The irony of it. I tried, but my body clock was working against me. I spent the downtime watching CNN and vegging out. The time passed quickly enough and before I knew it, it was time to get ready and head over to the college.

While I was in the lobby waiting for the hotel shuttle I came across two gentlemen who were also attending the conference, as I was going through introductions, one stopped to ask me if I wrote a blog about the conference. I responded, "Yes," completely caught off-guard. He explained that my blog came up in his Google alerts on the conference, which put a smile on my face. I write my blog thinking just my inner circle of family and friends read it and I was reminded that my posts touch others, making the blogger in me feel good.
Jepson Center at Gonzaga University

My first academic conference was a great experience. I had the opportunity to mingle with fellow graduate students, educators, scholars and learn about their academic pursuits. I'm familiar with Walter Ong's main theories on orality, literacy and technology due to a few classes I took at Gonzaga, but the conference allowed me to go more in-depth in a meaningful way that I wasn't anticipating.

Before attending Gonzaga I thought about communications as a series of tactics and actions needed to obtain a desired result, but over the years I've learned that effective communications goes much deeper than that. I've also learned there is a value in understanding communications theories and applying those theories to help problem solve a topic or issue. This conference reinforced the teachings and values I've learned while studying at the university. 

My presentation went well. I was surprised by how  the topic engaged the audience. I was nervous and it didn't hit me until I was standing up at the podium looking out at the audience. My knees started to shake, but I just focused on what I was saying and eventually my nerves settled. I made sure to make eye contact and kept it moving. 

After I finished, my public speaking teacher congratulated me on a job well done, but noted my few ahs and ums. Another lesson learned, there is always room for improvement. 

The Walter Ong Conference was an engaging two days. I learned a lot and am glad I attended the conference. A week later I'm back home, reflecting on the the experience and getting myself back into my thesis research project mode. Going away was a nice break in my regular routine.


Ron Samul said...

What a great experience. Sounds like you connected with a lot of interesting people in your field. Nice work. Can we read the paper?

Aaliyah Miller said...

Hey Ron,

It was. I will send you the paper. Hoping to get it published.