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December 16, 2012

Christmas and Conferences!

From the top of the Gravensteen, in Gent!

Some of my more dedicated followers – and for all I know, that only refers to my mother – may recall that in March of 2012, Clark paid for me and a few other students to travel to New Orleans and present our papers at the National Association for Ethnic Studies  Conference.  It was, as you might imagine, an incredible experience, and besides leaving me with a lifelong appreciation for the insanity that is New Orleans, it piqued my interest (if momentarily) in the academic world of conferences.

There’s something quite pleasant about a bunch of academics coming together to share their work and, more often than not, a few drinks.  It’s not something I want to do for the rest of my life, to be sure, but there’s an almost anthropological interest in participating in the world from time to time.  In that spirit, I recently submitted a paper I wrote last year (“Measuring Intensity in Senate Races: A Case Study of Massachusetts and Illinois, 2010“) to the Midwest Political Science Association annual conference, to be held in mid-April, 2013.  To my delight, it was accepted.

I have to confess, I had an ulterior motive in applying to the conference.  This year, MPSA’s conference will be held in Chicago – my hometown.  I not-so-secretly hoped that, if my paper was accepted, Clark might be willing to fly me from London to Chicago in order to present my paper.  As I hadn’t been planning on coming back to the US until July, it would be a nice chance to see my family again, and my city.  So as soon as I found out that my paper had been accepted, I contacted my faculty adviser (who I’ve written about here before) and asked about options for coming back.

And honestly, who wouldn’t want to go back here?

And Clark’s political science department came through.  I’ve been awarded a Harrington Fellowship, covering (among other things) the cost of my ticket back home.  So I’ll be back in the good ol’ US of A in the springtime, just in time for my mother’s birthday and – hopefully – my interview with the Truman Foundation.  Clark, once again, delivers.  I’m the oldest in my family, and my siblings aren’t in college, but I imagine that this kind of support wouldn’t happen at every school.  It says something about Clark that, every time I need help to take a step forward, they’re right there with me.  Their money is very much where their mouth is.

What else … I’m on break now!  I know I promised a reflection of sorts this week, but honestly I’m too wiped (and the term is too near) to even consider writing something lengthy.  I’ll put some time into it over the next few days, while I’m traveling in Belgium, and get back to you all with some more serious thoughts.  For now, I’m just very grateful to Clark for making this happen for me.


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