First Year Experience 2011 recap

Standing for 20 hours talking to educators might not sound like the world’s best way to spend your birthday/Superbowl weekend, but that’s exactly what I did at the First Year Experience Conference in Atlanta. And I had fun doing it. Here’s why…

This elevator


Seriously how cool is that? I was on the 25th floor. I’d be lying if I didn’t fess-up to pretending I was in a Sci-Fi movie starring Bruce Willis and Jackie Chan. I was just waiting for one of them to crash through the glass wall of the elevator. Yippee ki-yay mother…

My publisher (John Wiley & Sons) rocks!

My book has been out for two years and here they are sending me to Atlanta putting me up in an awesome hotel and allowing me to give out free books. Valerie, the Wiley rep working the booth with me, even had a restaurant bring me key lime birthday pie. Yes, I nearly died from stomach over-expansion after I ate, but it tasted so good.

It’s a small world

I’ve blurbed one book in my entire life – Daniel Seddiqui’s 50 Jobs in 50 States: One Man’s Journey of Discovery Across America. So the chances that Daniel along with his publisher Berrett-Koehler would setup right beside us at the conference would be pretty slim. But that’s what happened…

With Daniel Seddiqui at #FYE11

I read the book before Daniel’s parents read it. Here’s my full blurb:

Seddiqui gives a voice and hope to a generation of job seekers and graduates. His inspiring can-do spirit is contagious and his quest to get 50 jobs in 50 states puts the PATH in career path, the JOURNEY in journeyman. This is the best book by a bartending Amish-wood-woodworking, rodeo-announcing archaeologist that you’ll ever read.

Most of the last sentence made it onto the back cover. I think Daniel’s book should be in every high school and college career center, so when a “I don’t know what to do with my life” students walk in the door, they are handed a copy. 50 Jobs in 50 States comes out next month.

Did I mention that it’s a small world?

Obviously I’m a big fan of Conor Grennan’s remarkable new book Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal. When I wasn’t talking about how great Where am I Wearing has gone over as a common reader, I was saying something like, “Do you know what else would be a great common reader? Little Princes by Conor Grennan.” At one point someone responded, “He’s going to be here tomorrow.”

I briefly met Conor and he was complete jerk. I’m kidding. He was a really cool dude. In fact, I said something that sounded a little too “Single, White, Female”-ish, “We’re practically the same person.” After that his handler whisked him away to an event. We’re travelers turned give-a-shit artists, dads at the same stage of parenting (not-so terrible twos), lovers of Nepal, and first-time authors. I look forward to the day Conor and I can sit and have a chat about kids, Nepalese orphans, and his wise choice of sweaters vs. collared shirts. (No ironing! Genius! Why didn’t I think of that. I spend half my time in hotels trying to not catch my wrinkled shirts on fire with malfunctioning irons.)

Cool People

I talked with professors from all across the country. It turns out many of them had been conducting “Check your tag” class activities for years. We had a lot to talk about. So much, in fact, I nearly lost my voice. Quite a few of them would say, “Hey, I’ve heard of this book,” and I would have to fight back from hugging them. They’re educators and readers, but even more than that they are fire-starters. They try to find ways to light a fire beneath students at the beginning of their college careers.

All-in-all I had a great time and I hope that the conference leads to being able to share the story of the garment workers I met around the world with even more students.


Let your voice be heard!