I would like to share some thoughts from a “guest blogger,” Chris Matheny, our College’s Vice President of Instructional Services. Recently, Chris was part of a wonderful community learning experience. What follows is first-hand from Chris…
On the afternoon of October 4th, I boarded a Lamers bus with about 60 educators, students, and community members bound for St. Peter, MN. St. Peter is home to Gustavus Adolphus College and for each the last 46 years, the College has hosted Nobel Prize winners and top scholars from around the world for two day symposia on a variety of topics. It is billed as the “only place where academics and instructors are treated like rock stars!” I must admit, that while this year’s topic was interesting (Making Food Good), I was not convinced that the travel necessary to get to St. Peter (a six hour bus trip) was going to be worth the effort. I could not have been more pleasantly surprised!
I think that it is good for us to periodically sit down in a room with people smarter than ourselves and see if we can keep up. It stretches our minds, makes us think differently about issues, and challenges our assumptions about how the world works. Think that I am talking about the Nobel Laureates that we heard speak? – Think again. The smart people I am talking about are Scott Finley (culinary instructor), Daniel Maaske and Karli Valenta, two culinary students who came along. I’m talking about Randy Tenpas (agriculture instructor), Stephanie Jentz and Keisy Cabrera – our agriculture students. We may not have Nobel Laureates on our faculty, but I can tell you that the voices representing FVTC were some of the most well respected, most informed, and most articulate voices at the conference. While we may feel like we are the “best kept secret” and that other institutions, faculty, and students sometimes get more respect, I can tell you that these six individuals opened many eyes over the course of the two days.
I was proud of all the students (but especially ours) who defy the stereotype of disengaged young people. I have no doubt that the future leaders of our community and of our industries are going to be more worldly, more informed, and more active than many current leaders. Going away from home also reinforced what many of us already know. This College and the communities that we serve are connected in a way that many are not. Ours may have been the only group this year (and perhaps ever) who has attended as a community of students and educators from across institutions and disciplines. The Nobel Conference organizers were certainly impressed! Of the 41 photos that Gustavus Adolphus College posted of the Conference on their Flikr, 4 are of our group or members (some of the speakers have 1 or 2).
From my perspective…The Rock Stars are here!…and playing in the classrooms, labs, and hallways all around you.
P.S. – Check out the photos, lectures, and more about the Nobel Conference at their website.