Two events today reminded me about the necessity of meeting new people, and building connections. I've been focused over the last few months on courseware development, a LMS upgrade, Google Apps for Education integration, numerous MOOCs I've been taking, and the odds and ends of helping to run online courses. Growing my network has not been a very high priority.
The first reminder was finishing Sonia Sotomayor's memoirs My Beloved World. In it she details a rough upbringing, and charts her trajectory through Princeton, Yale Law, being an ADA, private practice, volunteer work, and ends with her entering a federal judgeship. She is very frank about growing up in the Bronx, and discusses difficult and emotional issues she lived through. She is equally frank about how her network of people helped her to get where she is today. After entering Princeton it seems that opportunities opened up to her because she naturally enjoyed meeting people. She discusses how when meeting someone, she tries to learn something from them. While this is an admirable quality in and of itself, it has the added benefit of growing her network, and using it strategically when the time calls for it.
The second reminder was a presentation by Patrice Torcivia from Empire state College. A faculty member at my home institution is working with her on a grant project, studying online 'study abroad' methods. As the Instructional Designer for the courseware she will be using for the course, I was curious about some of the tools and workflow of the project. An offhanded comment between Patrice and the faculty member caught me off guard, it was something like "We met a year ago, and now we're part of this project." It reminded me that my work doesn't have to be the constant barrage of spreadsheets, schedules, trainings development, and teaching. There is a social dynamic to this work that I'm neglecting, and should be a part of.
My mom always said that some life lessons need to be relearned on occasion. This is just one of those occasions.