I’m currently sitting in Lambert (St. Louis) Airport writing this blog post as I wait for my plane to board. The last 24 hours have been overwhelming in everyway possible – and for that reason, I’m going to write two separate posts…
First off, I want to just make mention of the facilities that the Schusterman College Program and CAJE took advantage of at Washington University over the last week. Our program was fortunate enough to have exclusive use of an entire floor of the Danforth Residence Hall. As a result, we were able to do much of our program within the confines of one place, making for easy and seamless transitions, along with built in time for additional socializing amongst group members. In addition, we also had two spaces allocated for specific uses: a formal Beit Midrash room, along with a more informal workshop/seminar room. As the week progressed, it was this workshop room that became our catch-all room for hanging-out as a group and creating group identity between sessions and into the evenings and nights when people could often be found noshing, talking, singing, and more than anything, bonding.
Similarly, the outdoor spaces on campus were also for conducive bonding as an SCP group (that is, when temperature conditions allowed for it). In an interesting twist on campus design that I’ve never seen anywhere else, WashU has several hammocks set up, and our group utilized them, often late at night (who says college students sleep?).
When I first looked at the map of the campus, I felt daunted and overwhelmed by the magnitude and extent of buildings that I would have to conquer in order to attend sessions. This was not the case. Sessions were held in buildings close to one another, which were no more than an 8-10 minute walk from the Wohl centre (where the dining hall was located).
Oh, and food! We Jewish learners have to ear, right? For a conference of CAJE’s size, the food couldn’t have been more varied, nutritious and delicious! Frozen yogurt, salads, fish, delicious pastas, and of course, the incredible late-night snacks of cookies and brownies that kept us energized as we discussed and debated with one another.
The reason I’ve written this post is not to advertise Washington University (although it’s a gorgeous campus – particularly at sunrise!). What struck me most about the campus was it’s staff, and how they would do nearly anything to ensure that CAJE attendees had the most positive experience possible. It all comes back to creating, establishing and building upon relationships that we have with our students, our teachers and our peers. Furthermore, in establishing credibility as an organization, CAJE needs to prove and uphold their commitment to excellence by providing their members with conference facilities that meet the needs of attendees. In my opinion, Washington University in St. Louis certainly did this – and if the high caliber of conference facilities is any indication of what is to come at Vermont next August, there are very exciting things in the works!
(Stay tuned for my next post, which will address some of Iris’ questions, which she shared with the CAJE community in a previous blog-post!)