Back Home, Saturday, 18 June 2011:

DSCN0719Thought I’d take a minute to recap this last week at the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) at Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama.   Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat.

Tom Jones’s class, “Writing and Publishing for Genealogists,” was fabulous.   Taught by Thomas W. Jones, John Philip Colletta, Elissa Scalise Powell, and Craig R. Scott, we learned all about genealogy writing, whether for a journal or book and how to get our writing published.  I would say it’s a MUST for anyone wanting to publish their work, and we all should publish our work, so it’s a MUST for every genealogist.

Lest some think they already know enough to publish, I will tell you that in my class there were three CGs, several people who had already been published in NGSQ, and editors of journals.  Don’t let that scare you, however, because several had no previous experience with genealogy writing and our instructors taught in a way that the students were able to keep up with the content and assignments.   Taking one course for a whole week allows for so much more in-depth study.  I will be a better writer for having attended.

I met fantastic people.   It was great to spend a week with my class because I got to know the other students.  When they talked about a child having his tonsils out the following Monday (Christy), or a daughter making the Madrigal choir (Angela), or a son going off to college next year (Debra) … it was great to be able to share their lives.   So, taking one course for a week allows for much more interaction with each other.

There’s also time to network at Samford.  We had a 45-minute break each afternoon with cookies and sodas furnished by Samford.  That was a nice time to just chat.  Each meal in the cafeteria also gave us the opportunity to sit with people from our class and get to know them better, but we could also meet students in the other courses.  I’m pretty timid when it comes to going out of my comfort zone, but I made it a point this week to try to sit with different people each meal, to go out of my way to meet people I didn’t know.  It was great.

Dorms vs. hotel.

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Dorms:  The dorms are beautiful, inviting sorority houses.  However, we didn’t get to enter through the front door into a lovely foyer and living room.    We had to use the side doors leading to the tile floor dorm rooms.  The dorms are sterile, empty rooms with no access to the main lobby or living rooms of the houses.  Each room has twin beds with plastic covered mattresses, a desk, dresser, and bathroom, but no cozy reading chair or reading light.

We had to furnish our own sheets, blankets, pillows, and towels.  Since I was flying to Alabama and limited to my one piece of checked luggage (at $25), I didn’t have room in my bag for a blanket or pillow.   I figured Alabama would be hot, so probably wouldn’t need a blanket.  For a pillow I stuffed my sweatshirt into my pillowcase, but then in the middle of the night I got cold, so had to sacrifice the pillow for warmth.   Luckily I had a roommate that didn’t mind turning off the air conditioner at night.

Other people have dealt with this issue by going to Wal-Mart when they arrive and purchasing some cheap bedding that they then donate when they leave.  Others found a friend (Patti) who was driving to campus and asked the friend to purchase some that they would donate, but then the friend offered to just bring some extras from home.

Some complained their window let in too much light and they purchased blackout curtains.  An eye mask could also solve that issue.

Since the dorm rooms were isolated with no common living rooms, any gathering had to be done in the courtyard between the four houses.  The times we would have gathered were in the evenings when either the heat and bugs prevailed, or during the storms when we wouldn’t want to be there either.    It would have been nice to have a place to gather near the dorms.

Getting to and from the main part of campus was a plus for the dorms.   The dorms were close to the main part of campus, so we could walk if we chose.  There were times I wanted to go back to the dorms to drop off my laptop before dinner, or grab a sweater, etc.  Samford furnished a shuttle that ran about every ten minutes.  The shuttle saved me many times when I was carrying my laptop or when the rain threatened to wash me down the street.    Thank you Samford for the shuttle!

Hotel:  Those staying at the hotels were also provided with a shuttle.  There were a couple of little hiccups with the shuttle, but the planners worked them out.   The hotels were nice, comfortable places to stay.

So I would stay in the dorms again, but find a way to make it more comfortable.

Would I do it all again?  You bet.

Were you there?  What would you do differently?  (Here’s where I expect input from YOU!)To Do List

Now that I’m back home, I know some of you are wondering about that “honey do” list I left for my husband.  I can report he went above and beyond my list and is still working on it while I’m writing this.  He only went to one movie and that’s while he was having a hitch put on our car, so he was stuck near the theater.  He’s a good man.  A good husband.

I only have one issue – since I’ve been gone all week, he now has refined plans for our next potential cruise:  dates, ports, ships, etc.  Good thing I came home when I did or he’d have booked it without my “input.”  Now that I’m here, it’s time for negotiation.  Now, where did I want to go for that next research trip?