On Friday, I attended the America Rows Forum at the USRowing convention in Jacksonville, Florida. All I can say is: wow! It was truly a life-changing experience. Here are the top 10 Takeaways that I learned at this national convention (and some on the way to the convention):
10. When the flight attendant comes on the loudspeaker and says: "do we have a physician, nurse, or EMT on board?", you can take your original flight time and multiply it by four. Due to an unscheduled landing in Charlotte, North Carolina for a medical emergency, our three hour flight turned into a 12 hour trip, involving three separate planes. I could've gotten there faster by covered wagon. We did however make a lot of friends on the plane, but that's another blog for another day.
9. Electric cars are awesome! Our rental car was a Prius and we got 55 miles to the gallon. Of course I could never fit all of my Student ambassadors in there, but it's a great car for everyone else.
8. Jacksonville, Florida is an absolutely beautiful city and if you ever go there, stay at the Hyatt Regency. After they heard about our crazy flight, they upgraded us to a premium River view room (which I was only in for about an hour of waking time but it was still beautiful)
7. Rowing is the most awesome sport in the world! I met so many wonderful program directors, coaches, athletes and speakers, it will take a long time to process all of the wonderful things that happened in Jacksonville.
6. The sport of adaptive rowing is one of the most amazing things I have ever learned about. Through some incredible grit, determination and talent, the sport of rowing has been opened to a whole new world of athletes -- some have lost a limb or part of a limb; I even met a blind rower. These are some of the most inspiring sports stories you will ever hear. Talk about overcoming adversity!
5. I really enjoy public speaking, in general, and I absolutely love talking about my student ambassadors. In fact, once I get going it's almost impossible to shut me up!
4. Always carry business cards. If you're very involved with a charity, make up business cards for your volunteer job. Despite all the advances in the Internet and social media, the exchange of paper business cards is still the number one way to connect with people.
3. It is okay to recognize that someone else is different from you. It is okay to talk about race to someone, if you are coming from a good place.The most important thing is to open up the discussion; if you make a mistake just apologize and start over (The credit for that one goes to Rhonda Marable from USA swimming).
2. I am not alone. That was a great discovery. Just when I thought I was the only person in America trying to carry-on a student ambassador program, and open the doors of rowing to a culturally diverse part of our population, I realized I was one of many. Meeting other program directors from the America Rows and other inclusion programs was absolutely thrilling. I made so many great connections and there was so much synergy, I still feel like I'm walking on air.
1. Everybody loves America Rows and Swims Newburgh! People want to come to Newburgh and study our program, particularly how we combine swimming and rowing. Newburgh can become known for something other then being the city with the highest per capita violent crime rate in the state of New York. And I just found out that America Rows and swims Newburgh has been accepted by USA swimming as a local Make a Splash partner! This means that our little program is now the only program in the nation which is an affiliate of these two national NGB's! To explain: every Olympic sport has its own national governing body. The national governing body of the sport of rowing is USRowing, of which ARSN is an official affiliate. The national governing body of the sport of swimming is USA Swimming, of which we have just become a local affiliate.This opens so many doors, the possibilities are literally endless.
Finally, while we were all done Jacksonville, Florida doing great things, I see from my newsfeed there are some less than great things going on in the country. All I can say is: BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE! Yes, it is that simple. Stay tuned for lots more good news from America Rows and Swims Newburgh. Have a great day everyone and, as always, remember to count your blessings! <3 Mrs. Lo (Photo from our room at the Hyatt Regency in Jacksonville Florida)
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