by Abby Boggs (2013 Byron Fellow)
Byron was not just a week of inspiration. Byron allowed me to reconnect with my passions that had been masked by others’ expectations. Since Byron, I have stayed in contact with fellow Byronites, experimented with Amelia’s movement exercises with awesome results, and rekindled old research motivations within urban planning themes.
Elizabeth Walsh (my roommate at Turkey Run and the amazing woman hugging the tree below) have been in contact since. Together we brainstorm and discuss planning theories, tourism, and community engagement activities. Byron allowed me to meet with other likeminded students, the ones that you feel you may never cross paths with while on day-to-day mode. Elizabeth and I have a friendship that started with research similarities, flourished in between deep discussions during Byron and, more importantly, crystallized into a relationship of trust… all in just one week. We both share the same passion as the rest of the Byronites, in that we love helping people and making the world, as we know it, a better place for everyone. I thank Byron for allowing me to connect with Elizabeth (we still refer to each other as “roomie!”).
I work with an extremely diverse group of international and domestic students at Purdue. I have 73 student leaders that I am personally responsible for, and 600 new, freshmen, international students that my 73 leaders mentor. Getting this type of student group to feel comfortable with each other can be difficult, especially because I must be careful to not cross certain boundaries (physical, emotional, etc.). Different cultural norms and religious viewpoints create a tricky environment to get students involved with each other. To attend to this, I reflected on the “ice breakers” we played at Byron and how effective they were. Amelia has shared the exercises and music we used, along with an in-depth explanation of how to create that kind of experience for my students. The result has been phenomenal- my students absolutely loved the exercises. Many of them are student leaders within other organizations on campus, or have been to countless leadership seminars, camps, conferences, etc., so when I said the word “ice breaker”, they all seemed unexcited because, in their minds, they have done just about every activity there is. But alas, I did something completely different! It was wonderful: the room was full of laughter and encouragement.
I’ve also used tools that Anamaria taught us since Byron, mainly the “triggering” exercise. I have been triggered lately in discussions about research and found myself using what we learned! It almost made me laugh that I immediately was mentally transported back to Byron; the humor of it all made me ease up and remain focused and open in the meeting.
The experience has, for me, lasted for much more than a week. I have emotional ties with Turkey Run State Park and connections with other fellows and mentors that continue to help me thrive. Moreover, I definitely think I am more confident since Byron. More confident that I do know what I want to do with research and that I just have to follow my heart with certain things. The Portsmouth passion (my home) unveiled during Byron led me to a meeting with the CEO of Compass Health (the drug abuse clinic in Portsmouth) and also resulted in numerous email exchanges with a prominent businessman. I still am not sure if Portsmouth can be part of my dissertation, but it is something I have acknowledged as important and that I trust I will be able to serve. Thank you Byron.