Jacksonville and the mystery conference

After I updated my Facebook status by pointing out I was in Jacksonville, Florida, my friend emailed me via Facebook and asked why. Good question.

Well, for reasons that are too complicated to go into now, the short version is that I’m at the 19th International Conference on College Teaching and Learning because EMU said that they would pay my way. So I figured it’d be a chance to represent EMU and get a trip to Florida near the end of my quasi-sabbatical.

So far, the trip has been kind of a mystery. Jacksonville has to date struck me as kind of a strange place. Most of the conversation with the cab driver from the airport to the hotel revolved around the cab driver’s love of soup. Downtown Jacksonville seems kind of like a cross between Richmond and Detroit in that it is a bunch of big office buildings– banks, telecom companies, insurance companies, etc.– and some weird and seemingly failed urban revitalization efforts. Just down the riverfront from the hotel is a “mall” that reminds me a lot of this place in Richmond that had a reasonably successful food court and a bunch of empty store fronts. There is a Hooter’s, though. And– I swear to God this is true– there’s even a monorail. I might take a ride yet this trip.

As for the conference itself: well, I’ll get a better sense tomorrow, but right now, it too is a real… mystery. I had never heard of this conference before I got myself involved in it this year, and I don’t recognize a single name in the program. I went to a little reception thing this evening, and I very much felt oddly out of place. There is some interesting abstracts in the program, and I guess I’ll find out more about this whole thing tomorrow and Thursday. Though I am also looking forward to finding out more about St. Augustine, which is my trip for Friday. Stay tuned.

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