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Monday, July 26, 2010

My kind of town

“Now this could only happen to a guy like me, and only happen in a town like this…” So begins Frank Sinatra’s classic ode to the Windy City that I could not get out of my head last weekend during the EAA’s Regional Leadership Conference – Central.

Emory alumni chapter leaders from Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Nashville gathered in Chicago last weekend to share ideas and best practices from their respective chapters. Everyone had a really terrific time meeting new people and reconnecting with long-lost friends.

We kicked the weekend off with a casual mixer at Crimson Lounge in the lobby of Hotel Sax, where we hosted the conference. This fun, laid back Friday night was merely a prelude to the razzle dazzle we had planned for everyone on Saturday, which began with breakfast (obviously) and an overview of some of the changes currently happening in the EAA.

Throughout the day, we discussed the Alumni Admission Interviewing program (which each Central city currently participates in) and delved deep into best practices for chapter events and marketing. Everyone had wonderful ideas to share, and it was so great to see the folks from different cities sharing ideas and collaborating on the best ways to build the Emory community in their areas.

Following a long (but very enjoyable) day of conferencing, we concluded the Saturday festivities with dinner at Fulton’s on the River. (DELICIOUS!) After dinner, some of us ventured out to see the 11:00 (PM) performance of “Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies” at The Second City. Though we were exhausted at this point, the show was hilarious (as if you couldn’t tell by the name) and everyone had so much fun.

The Second City show was one of two optional add-ons we included as part of the conference to give everyone a taste of Chicago. We relied on our host chapter, the folks who call Chicago home, for recommendations for these field trips, and they did not disappoint.

Their other suggestion that we included as an option was an architectural river cruise along the Chicago River, which we did on Sunday morning. Watching the spectacle of burning boats in the river next to us (they were filming Transformers 3 this weekend) only added to what turned out to be a fantastic river cruise. (Another fun Transformers 3 sidebar: I walked out of the hotel on Monday only to see three guys parachuting off Trump Tower to a haze of machine gun fire below…very cool, I must admit!)

As the newest EAA staff member, this trip was a great learning opportunity for me during my first two months on the job to meet some of our fantastic alumni, while enjoying all that is Chicago, that toddlin town.

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, however. As the new guy, I was drafted to take all of the photos for the weekend (you can check them out here), and when the clouds gathered and the rain began to pour during the last three minutes of the river cruise, I had to use my body to shield everyone from the rain. (Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture.) The good news is that the hazing is complete and I have been fully initiated as a member of the EAA.

After such a great weekend, I think I can speak for everyone who attended the Regional Leadership Conference – Central when I say that Chicago truly is my kind of town!

-- Shawn Scott 09T, assistant director, regional volunteer programs, EAA

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