View from the 12th floor of the JSU library.
Wednesday my two colleagues and I left for Jacksonville, Alabama for the 39th Annual Alabama/Mississippi Social Work Educators Conference. Two more of our colleagues and two students were traveling over separately. I had never been to Jacksonville before, and it was a beautiful drive. We had an incredible meal at a local place called Effina's Tuscan Grill, named after the owner's Aunt Effie. Our food was superb, our waitress joyful, and we splurged on tiramisu and white chocolate bread pudding after the incredible meal.
The meeting was held in the library, which was a beautiful building, and the student social work organization served as guides and presentation aides. I said truthfully that this was the best AL/MS conference I have ever attended in the 7 years I have been here, and was the best organized in addition to best presentations. I was rejuvenated in spirit, learned new skills for my work, and made some wonderful new professional connections for future work.
I did my presentation on "Promoting Basic Human Rights: Where is Progressive Social Work?" and had the joy of meeting 4 students from other universities who came up and talked with me later about radical social work. The following session that I attended was conducted by one of those social work students, and not only was it skillfully done, I learned new things. It was so inspiring to see this young (21 years old!) woman be able to know this much and be this skilled, but she did something my friend and fellow colleague Jane/Gigi always stressed: made it FUN! I predict that I will hear her name in the future in the same leagues as Si Kahn, Jim Lawson, Lucius Walker, Martin Luther King, and it will not surprise me to see her in the political realm at some point--as a real change maker.
We invited the two students to join us for dinner and ended up at Effina's again. Two items we had wanted the night before were not available as the truck had not come in, but was supposed to be in Thursday. After checking that it had indeed come in, we opted to enjoy dinner again, and even got our wonderful waitress from the evening before. Wild mushroom ravioli! We tried to dissect it, as they begged me to try to recreate it. (I love to cook, and invent, but told them I was pretty sure I would have to beg help from Chef Rich). I had a simple Italian vegetable soup that was so amazing, served with polenta triangles. Yes, again, we were dissecting them and I am already figuring out how to reproduce them, while simultaneously promising to make shrimp and cheese grits at our next get-together.
Today was Jill's session, which was in the beautiful penthouse room with the view that overlooked those mountains. We were so impressed that not only was the room full of people we did not know, the students we met yesterday were there, and to talk with them further about graduate school, radical social work, and studying in South Africa and Belize.
It is well with my world.