I haven’t been to Vancouver in 6 years and I can hardly wait. It feels a bit elicit, really. I’m not presenting. I just said it out loud. There. I’m attending a major academic conference and I don’t have anything to present. I waffled for some time about whether I should go. And in the end, I decided that AERA in Vancouver was a chance I just couldn’t miss.
Well, there are the obvious reasons. Everyone loves Vancouver. If you’ve been there, you know that it gets into your head and into your heart. Like me, you’ve probably asked yourself how there could possibly be such a beautiful place on earth — the ocean, the mountains, the cerulean sky (except, of course, for when it’s raining…but somehow, even the incessant rain fades from memory). I love the neighbourhoods – Kitsilano, Yaletown, Granville Island. I love the city center. I love the seawall and the beaches. I love all the fit people bustling about on bikes and skateboards, scooters and rollerblades. I love the restaurants and the shopping. I love Stanley Park and the Endowment Lands. I love the ancient trees and the smell of saltwater.
And, like other educators, I also know that AERA is a right of passage. It’s a conference that you just have to attend a few times in your career. Ideally, to present, of course…but for a first-timer like me, I figured it might be good to check out its enormity without the pressure of having to say cogent and empirically grounded things.
In truth, however, I see AERA in Vancouver as a bit of a homecoming. For me, there is also a special kind of happiness in that place. At 27, wanting to make my way in the world, I moved there, alone, to start an M.A. at UBC. I did it in the Department of Language and Literacy Education and it’s because of that department and the amazing mentorship I received that I’m coming back to Vancouver at all. It was in Vancouver that I began to think that maybe, just maybe, I could be a researcher.
And so, AERA, I have high hopes. I’m coming back to be inspired by ideas and by the great thinkers in my field. I’m pretty sure I’ll be overwhelmed but I’m also pretty sure that when I leave Vancouver this time, I’ll feel even more excited and sure about my choice to become a researcher.
Photo: flickr.com contributor, runningclouds, licenced to share under creative commons
original image at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/runningclouds/3220810175/in/photostream/