My trip to the IAFA conference in Orlando
I just got back from the IAFA conference, and let me just say WOW.... It was awesome! I have never felt so humbled and yet so honored at the same time in my entire life. Sarah and I were possibly the only undergrad students at a conference of mostly teachers, and a few Grad students. We attended panels on video games, vampires, pedagogy (the art of teaching), and horror. Nearly all of the panels were very informative and engaging. However, it was the discussions held after the panels, and throughout our "free time" that was most interesting.
We went to a 'meet and greet' for new attendees, and while we were standing around talking, I noticed that the gentleman standing across from me was wearing a nametag that said "L. E. Modesitt." I recognized the name, but having a blonde moment, I could not remember why, so I asked him if he was an author. He said yes, he wrote the Magic of Recluse and Spellsong series, of which I am a huge fan. I had a fanboi moment... "Oh my God! Wow, I LOVE your stories" and further gushing comments before I realized I was making an ass of myself and shut up. He looked terrified. A guy standing next to him said something like "Sure, she she notices him, but hasn't noticed me." Looking at his nametag "Robert Sawyer" I still did not recognize him, and overcome with giddyness at meeting Modesitt, I ignored the comment. Once I calmed down, Modesiitt approached again to talk to me, and over the course of the conference we met several times, and conversed quite in depth about writing techniques, novel tips, and life in general. He even was kind enough to introduce Sarah and I to Peter Straub. *dance*
It turns out Robert Sawyer is a celebrated SF novelist. I found out by listening to a fascinating panel paper about him and his novels, and during the paper, realized that the author I snubbed earlier was sitting next to me. I apologized to him for my ignorance. After that he was pretty nice, and I got him to autograph a book for me.
While listening to these incredibly academic panel papers, I realized that nearly everyone at the conference possessed knowledge so far above my own, that I was humbled at my comparative lack of literary education. At the same time, they were all very impressed that Sarah and I were even attending, much less presenting as Undergrads, and so I felt very honored as well.
Dr. Ford's, Sarah's and my papers all went very well. We really had a blast hanging out with Ford, Arnzen, Francois Auld, Stephanie Moss, Lokke Heiss, Rhonda ?, and a variety of other teachers, who really treated us like we were one of the gang.
It was an amazing experience, and I have Dr. Ford and the Swamp Scribes to thank for it.