I was lucky enough to go to my very first ACTFL conference last week in San Antonio. It was the result of an interesting chain of events.
In 2012, I had taken a class taught by Dr. Ali Moeller and Carolina Bustamante. It was a technology class taught in Spanish focusing on the books Cajas de carton and Senderos fronterizos by Francisco Jimenez. I learned more in that class than I have in any other. I worked hard, but I feel very competent with technology.
The best part about the tech class was that the participants took the it free due to a grant! At our first face-to-face meeting, we were told the funds would be disbursed to keep us from having to pay for it and then receiving a check back. That was the greatest gift of all because I had no idea how I was going to come up with $1200 up front. I cried all the way home. I didn’t know it then, but that tech class was the first step toward my Master’s degree. I got the news today that I passed my comps, so I am on track to graduate next month!
I sent a thank-you email to both Dr. M. and Carolina to let them know what the tech class meant to me. I received a gracious response from Dr. M. followed by a an invitation from Carolina. She asked me to be a co-presenter at the ACTFL conference. She wrote an amazing proposal, and it was accepted! That was my path to my first ACTFL experience. For those who are not aware, it is the largest gathering of foreign language teachers in the United States (that I know of). There were approximately 6000 teachers in attendance in San Antonio. The icing on the cake was the mariachi band competition in the same place! The group of students from Roma, Texas won. I know that because the abuela (grandma) of one of the students was at our hotel.
Carolina and I met up at the airport and took a taxi to the hotel she had booked. Red Roof Plus was a better deal than other hotels closer to the Henry Gonzalez Convention Center. It was about a 10-minute walk. Denny’s was the mid-point, so I had a couple of meals there. 🙂 The prices were reasonable, and I could rest my poor feet. My feet were killing me Saturday, but I’ll get to that later.
The exhibitor’s section was huge. I spent all evening and part of a day there just getting free products and making contacts. I picked up a French book for Ysabela and some candies to share with her as well. The attendees are expected to get a lot of samples because when we all checked in we received a large red bag for all the loot! We also got our official badge that could be scanned at vendor booths for more free stuff. The badge had ribbons that we had to attach. I got three for mine: pink, red and blue. Carolina had two on hers.
We got to the convention center right at 6 p. m. when registration was about to close for the day. Getting checked in at closing time was not so easy! Carolina made sure the harried clerk took care of us, but it took some persuading. Two other women got in line behind us. The clerk wasn’t going to check me in until we promised to make sure others knew the line was officially closed after those last two ladies behind me. More came, but we told them the line had already been closed, so they would have to come back in the morning. I think they were staying at the hotel next to the conference center, so it wasn’t such a big deal.
To be continued….