I am back in my home office, where I come to nearly every single day to start work between 6 and 7 am. This morning feels different, not because it is Monday and I am exhausted from my last two weeks, but because I feel all the feels when I return from conventions that uplift me. Saturday evening I arrived back home from the 2022 NBASLH convention and I had four hours to drive back home from Houston and to think about all things alone in my car (without my kids asking me questions every 2 seconds).
First, there is a certainty that comes with being at a place in your life and your professional career that you can see so many things through so many different lens. One of the most magical ones is this immense pride and joy when you see other women display excellence because they are living life in their element WITHOUT HAVING to step on anyone. This to me was the moral of the story of the 2022 NBASLH convention 2022.
What is NBASLH?
I am still surprised that many people have never even heard of NBASLH: National Black Association for Speech, Language and Hearing. Here is their website: https://www.nbaslh.org. They have yearly conventions, a newsletter, and have contributed significantly to the advancement of our field. You can become a member and be a part of a community of SLPs.
Empowered Women Empower Women
I am not someone who seeks meeting people. I am very comfortable with my circle of people, my current village. I know who is who, and who I can count on. As an introvert, it takes a huge amount of effort to meet new people. Quite honestly I would rather spend time getting to know the people I already know even more. Group conversations are so hard for me. Attending conventions, ASHA or TSHA for example, is always a highlight of my year because I get to see close friends and my family within the field. However, it is inevitable to also make new connection at these conferences. This is not something I seek- it just happens for me.
However, at an NBASLH convention the occurrences of meeting new people happen even more easily. There is a certain cultural familiarity that always makes it feel like home. This year was no different. I got to hug people I had only met online, I got to have real new connections with people I just magically met.
Sis, we GOT YOU!
When I was packing up to drive down to NBASLH my dear friend said, “You should bring your books to sell here.” I told her I didn’t have a booth, I was just coming as an attendee. But, I was driving so I loaded a box with 38 books in my car and headed to Houston. For the first day, I had some books in my room and I shared on Instagram that I had books and would be happy to sell them.
I sold several books, but it was weird randomly meeting people to hand them books. The second morning I wake up to a message from one of the organizers telling me that I could have a table to have my books on. I was super grateful and on the 2nd day I set up the table, brought down the rest of the books and sold them all out.
In the process two lessons: My village showed up to help me! These are people I had never met before. That’s the power of NBASLH! Second lesson was hearing all the stories from my fellow colleagues as they had their book purchased on Amazon with them or as they learned for the first time about my own stories. So grateful for the experiences I had this weekend.
I even accidentally sold my own hardback copy! oops.
Admiring excellence and service
One of the most beautiful things to witness during the NBASLH convention is to witness excellence in our field. I know I am bias, but I also when my bias has no impact on what I am about to write: I am so proud to have known Dr.Kia Johnson for fifteen years and have watching her move, speak, organize and empower others with the power of her gifts was one of my many gifts this last week. This field is so lucky to have her. Watching how she volunteer her time to make sure students get the mentorship they need to flourish is beautiful.
It is also beautiful to witness other women, women of color specifically, who are often met with skepticism about their talents, demonstrate stelar execution of putting a convention together, supporting others, remembering and honoring others who have contributed and doing so much more. These are the GIVERS of our field, not the takers. Here are a few of them:
Sis, You Got This – So many of us!
I have never been so tired at a conference before, and I was not working this time. When I stopped to think about why I was so tired each night, yet I could not sleep, I realized that the amount of heavy stories I heard at this conference was unlike I never experienced before. I was attending sessions on the struggles that students are facing, to then meeting people who had read my book and wanted to share their stories, or even people who were buying my book and had identified with just something that was written on the back.
I thank everyone of you who felt safe to be vulnerable with me and share your story with me. I honor you! May your story have a louder voice in the future.
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