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Today, I presented my research and experience in Alaska at an ASCE event centered around my trip.  I was nervous for the last couple weeks, afraid that anything I had to say would be dull and not well received.  How many people really care about offshore wind turbine foundations in Lake Erie?  Who really wanted to hear me blather on about Alaska and a bunch of Native American events?  Apparently a lot of people did.

I brought the painting I bought from the Yupik man at the Conference as well as my Wal-Mart Alaska flag, an old Kokopeli mat from Arizona, and a couple pamphlets from AISES and Winds of Change.  I hung my research poster and began my powerpoint in a small room full of engineers and students.

First, I ran through a shorter version of my oral presentation.  Then I scanned through the overview of AISES that I had presented to ASCE when I won the Cleveland section grant.  Finally, I summarized my time in Alaska and played twice through my 13 minutes of pictures.  It wasn’t even all of my pictures, but it was enough to capture what I had done and seen.

I received nothing but praise.  Not just on my content, but on my delivery.  On what I had learned.  On how I had taken in my surroundings, drawn lessons from the ordinary, and chosen to take on challenges the way I have.  For once, I was excited about a presentation because, although I got to talk about work I should be proud of, I also got to bring to the community some lessons on the Native culture and to remind them of the world we live in.

It was a really great opportunity, and I’m excited to continue doing research, presentations, and events such as these.  It might have been a lot of work, but who wouldn’t trade all that effort for a trip to Alaska, an exposure to his or her heritage, and an unforgettable experience with new friends?  Revisiting my trip has brought back the memories as fresh as when they were made.  It’s a sweet sorrow, because it pangs me that my friends are so far away.  I genuinely miss them, and Alaska.  Nonetheless, I look forward to what the next adventure will bring.

Thank you to my sponsors, SOURCE and ASCE Cleveland.