Wow. Three years of meetings, countless conference calls, and thousands of e-mails later, the 2008 Annual Conference of the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA) is finally done. Finished. Completed. Done-zo.
I am utterly exhausted. We welcomed close to 900 people at the conference, the largest the association has ever had in its 30-plus year history. The conference was a success on all counts; we received fantastic feedback from many of the attendees — even the “NODAsaurs,” a few of whom said it was perhaps the best annual conference they’d been to in years.
To say that it was a lot of work is a little bit of an understatement. Operating on only a few hours of sleep this week, I troubleshooted (toubleshot?) the hell out of the conference. Rooms that weren’t set correctly? Check. LCD projectors that malfunctioned? Check. Conference newsletters that needed to be finished by midnight? Check. I ran around like a madman for most of the conference. For a second, I flashed back to when I was an orientation director and had to manage programs for hundreds of students and families twice a week for four weeks. I’m actually surprised my hair didn’t turn grey back then.
But I didn’t think it would be as emotionally taxing as it is to finally get here, sitting in my apartment in Virginia and settling back into my daily routine as a grad student and government employee. I’m a little sad. I feel like Bill Bixby trying to hitch a ride at the end of every episode of The Incredible Hulk.
My involvement in NODA has been an amazing growing opportunity for me. I’ve met so many colleagues who have encouraged me and inspired me not just to be a better professional, but also to be a better person. They have become my best friends.
This year, I was surprised and greatly humbled to be recognized by the president of the Association — my mentor while I was a student at Boston University — who awarded me the 2008 NODA President’s Award for my service to the organization. It was a little bittersweet for me, as I am effectively stepping back from my multiple roles with NODA to pursue new avenues with my life.
Truth be told: I will enjoy having this huge, gigantic commitment off my plate. But I will miss all of this — the emotional assurance of knowing that there are people across the country who support and love you. And I will miss hanging out with my friends over drinks at the hotel bar. I’m actually thinking about crashing next year’s conference in Anaheim (Go Disneyland!) just so I can experience the collegiality and camaraderie that has made this organization one that I can proudly call home.