#SeaChange2018 – Charlottetown, PEI – The first joint conference between CACUSS and ARUCC, two professional associations supporting student success in the Canadian post-secondary context. Over the course of the next five days, I’ll be blogging about my insights and learning from the conference. You can follow me @CdnStdntSuccess or @TriciaSeifert on Twitter for in-the-moment take-aways from individual sessions.
Day 1 – It’s Sunday and the day is full with pre-conference sessions for keeners. Yep, I’m one of them but instead of seeing the inside of a conference room, I’m out with 12 others enjoying the scenery on the Confederation Trail. This is the second annual “The Way is Made by Walking” pre-conference session, inspired by Arthur Boers’ book and several CACUSS members’ pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago trail in May 2016.
Sometimes it is difficult to explain to colleagues that my professional development begins with an 18 kilometer walk. People wonder what there is to be gained from just walking. They ask questions like:
- How can walking count as PD?
- What are the learning outcomes in a walk?
- And perhaps, more importantly, how are they measured?
Pre-conference walking allows people to find their place, their rhythm, in a new location. I find it grounds me and provides a connection with the land on which we visit. I am grateful to walk the unceded terrritory of the Mi’kmaq people. Knowing that the bustle of the conference is yet to come, the walk affords me the space and time to reflect on my intention for the conference.
Why am I here? What do I want to learn?
I’m on a personal journey to examine my practice from a new perspective. I’m learning about Indigenous ways of knowing and doing. I’m reflecting on how my settler/colonial assumptions limit what I see and how I respond.
#SeaChange2018 conference organizers developed an entire stream of concurrent sessions focusing on indigenizing and decolonizing student affairs and services work (look for the IC notation in the conference program or app). I’ve marked a host of sessions in my conference program and I’m excited for Dr. Sheila Cote-Meek’s keynote on Wednesday. I picked up her book Colonized Classrooms: Racism, Trauma, and Resistance in Post-Secondary Education just the other week. There is much to learn, to think about, to reflect on, to ponder.
My intention for this conference began with the first steps on the trail this morning. The PD was in the moments of quiet reflection, noting the dairy cows in the field. The PD was in the community of sharing at the end.
Some may ask how is going for a walk PD. What are the milestones? Where is the destination? My answer is simple; the way is made by walking. The point is to walk; the walk is the destination.