The “Why Should You Attend SHA?” 11 posts in 11 days from the SHA Class of 2011 continues today with Mark Sundlov (@thesandlot11), Site Supervisor at the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site in Cooperstown, North Dakota.
The professional training provided by SHA is unbeatable. To steal a phrase from the Coen Brothers, “It really tied the room together.” Well, SHA may not have tied the room together in the same way that the Dude’s rug did, but it did tie all of my previous professional training and education together. SHA was a sort of catalyst that allowed years of my training and experience to come together and coalesce in a synergistic way. The truly unique training at SHA gave me an opportunity to reflect on what I know, what I do, and what I could be doing. And, along with tying together so much previous training and education, SHA, with its top-notch faculty, also taught me things about my field and practice that I had not known or considered. Yet, all of this professional growth would mean little if it wasn’t for the second area of SHA—the personal relationships.
Most of us have been through some kind of physical or emotional experience that acts like an iron forge and shapes and welds individuals into a single unit or team—SHA has that forge-like capability. Immersed in a three-week program with other select individuals who are committed to their personal growth, the growth of the field, and, to my growth was truly powerful. From classroom discussions, to walks to nearby cafes, to early morning breakfasts, to late night discussions (with a few cold beverages), to museum explorations, to group sing-alongs, to romping board-game sessions, the discussion and analyses was unceasing, challenging, and enlightening. Of course, with those discussions came plenty of laughter and sometimes even tears. I formed relationships that I’ll cherish and carry with me forever.
SHA is not for the light-hearted. You will be challenged. In turn, you will challenge others. You will laugh till your sides hurt. In turn, you will be frustrated and angered. You will be pushed to read more and learn more. You will find obstacles that seem (at first) insurmountable. But, then, with help from your classmates, you’ll see that those obstacles are actually opportunities. In the end, you will end up creating a new vision for your own career, your institution, and your field.
Wow. Thanks, Mark!
So, why should you attend SHA?
#11: Attending professional conferences is no substitute for the SHA experience! (Bob Hart)