SWC Con 2001 in Chicago - Page 4

Claudia Glenn
Copyright 2001

The conference was a very new experience for me in many ways. Prior to the Con I had only met 3 other SWCers (Jazzy, Melissa Craig and Debbie Foreman) when we looked for hotel sites for this conference- and that was in October of '99! So there were many many people to meet. It was great to actually talk face to face to people I had e-mailed- especially those on Commons as we were anticipating the conference.

I spent Wednesday meeting Sandi and Martha and Linnie as we stuffed our goody bags. Then I went to AccessChicago and heard a great lecture on ADA and ran into some friends I knew from the area. I was sorry to miss Bob's party on Wednesday night, but it was getting late and I needed to catch a train home.

Thursday more people started to come in and met in the area designated for hospitality. It was good to meet people but the lipreading was exhausting for me. Thursday afternoon was as tired as I have ever been in my life. I laid down on the floor of the large room we used for the workshops for a while and felt that maybe I would be able to get myself together enough to get to the pizza party. Although it took longer (with traffic) to get to Mary's the bus was clean and air conditioned. Mary's house is beautiful and she is a great hostess. How wonderful to let such a large group (most of whom she doesn't know) come and enjoy her home and her porch.

I checked into the hotel the next day. It was fun to have a bed to retreat to when my brain got tired! I had an excellent time with the front desk staff. They consistently wrote things down for me- and did it with a smile. We had TTYs set up on the first floor and on the 12th floor. I had an vibrating alarm clock, a door knocker alert and a tty in my room too (although I couldn't figure out how to use it! I ended up going to the 1st or 12th floor for calls anyway!).

Friday we had workshops on CIs, a panel discussion from CI recipients and lectures from manufacturers. We also had talks on advocacy and hearing loss. I was still recuperating from my tiredness from the day before and needed to rest. I was sorry to have to miss part of Malisa's talk. On Friday night, I went to Blue Man Group and really enjoyed it- unlike any other theatre experience I've ever had.

Saturday, I really enjoyed the presentation from Howard Rosenblum from Midwest Center on Law and the Deaf. He had quite a sense of humor - something I didn't expect from a lawyer! There was another CI talk and the panel on relationships. Saturday night was the banquet, a short talk afterwards and the results of the auction. I had hoped to go to Navy Pier and watch fireworks but it was pretty late by time the festivities were over.

Sunday we had a nice brunch in the restaurant and our closing Town Hall Meeting. I wasn't sure what to expect with that but found so many of our group to be very insightful. Then, after working off and on for more than 18 months- it was suddenly over! I went back to my room for another nap! I finished the day with a wedding of a coworker.

To me the conference gave me the chance to meet people in person that I had talked to on Commons. That was quite nice. I was amazed however at how tiring it was for me to meet new people and especially to try to lipread new faces. I especially enjoyed the smaller conversations- putting the goodie bags together and meeting Martha after e-mailing each other for so long. Thursday morning I enjoyed sitting in the lobby and signing with Susan from Illinois. Thursday night the conversations were so nice- I almost forgot about the heat- the conversation on the bus on the way to Mary's house, signing with Bob on the porch and our nice neighborhood walk, when I got to know Jane and saw so many similarities in different parts of our lives. By Friday, I was feeling more comfortable with all the new faces and my husband joined me for the rest of the conference. I had visions of romantic walks downtown or watching the light show at Buckingham Fountain, but we never made it to any of the sights! Our Friday dinner before Blue Man and the hilarious time at Rock Bottom after the banquet more than made up for the lack of sightseeing though.

A HUGE heartfelt thanks to all of you that I met at the conference. When people make the effort to communicate with me and talk to me as a person rather than focusing on the hearing loss, I am truly touched. We are in a similar boat at the convention. The most fun times for me were when we were able to discuss our lives and just have fun.

I don't really have the finances to fly to conferences in other areas- that's why I thought it would be fun in Chicago. But who knows? It's mighty tempting to think about next year in Virginia!

Dale Oftebro
Copyright 2001

I was asked more than once which I thought was "better" - the San Diego 2000 convention or the Chicago 2001 convention. And my answer would be, both were wonderful. When I went to San Diego last year, I had only been in SWC for about 4 months. I had JUST met the first deaf person I had ever had a chance to sit down and talk with - Larry Littleton, one of the instigators of SWC, who lives here in Santa Barbara, where I live.. So, going to San Diego I was VERY new to the whole hearing loss scene, didn't know anyone - was going to share a room with 3 women I had never met, not to mention a bed!!!

The biggest push to go to San Diego was that I could drive there, and could leave if I felt it wasn't my cup of tea. I knew before I got there that next year (2001) was going to be in Chicago - and I had already made up my mind, "no way - I'm not flying by myself halfway across the country". However, I hadn't been in San Diego a day before I had decided - YES, I WILL go to Chicago! And I did!

The San Diego convention for me was wonderfully challenging in just trying to put names and faces together, getting used to having to be aware not only of my limitations, but the limitations we all had - not just positioning myself to hear, but being sure all the others were included as well. All the workshops had something new for me. I made wonderful friends, and was looking forward to Chicago.

Chicago - well, what can I say about the weather?! I had actually very little time to sightsee, but that wasn't what I came for. I came for the people, the relationships - and I can say that I was blessed by each and every one there. It was wonderful to have so many warm hugs from "old" friends, and to feel by Sunday that everyone there was an old friend. Each one of the workshops was worth attending. I especially benefited from the one on the ADA and the hearing loss and relationships panel. The socializing was great, and it truly amazes me that between the hard work of the local members, and all our online plotting and planning - everything came together to make a wonderfully supportive and memorable convention.

Before I went to Chicago - knowing that 2002 would be CLEAR ACROSS THE COUNTRY in Virginia, I had decided that was too far to go. But by the time I had left Chicago, I was already 95% committed to somehow making it to Virginia! Since it's so close to D.C., my husband might even come with me to sightsee! I've not been involved in SHHH, ALDA, or CIAI, partly because there isn't much available in Santa Barbara, partly because I have not really felt I fit into any of these groups statistically - although the last one is now a possibility. But, as I mentioned to the Chicago group, I've chosen to put all my financial eggs in the SWC basket for their convention and other functions. I feel the smaller groups are what I need, can handle, and benefit from. And, we have PERSONAL relationships - knowing each other so well through our emails that meeting face to face is just a continuation of an ongoing friendship.

Thanks for listening, and letting me share. Looking forward to Virginia in 2002!!


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