Sinclair Community College – SEEK Conference (Sharing Education, Experience, Knowledge)
“None of us could accomplish the tasks set before us without the help of another, which is personified in the partnership between the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education for the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program.”
My internship afforded me a different view, a behind the scenes out of committee view, of an organization I have been a part of for the past three years as a volunteer, the College for Lifelong Learning’s SEEK Conference at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. The SEEK Conference is a day of learning built around interests of people aged sixty and over. This year marked the 13th anniversary of the program. The day starts out with a special motivational speaker followed by two 40 minute breakout sessions that include seven learning opportunities, then lunch, followed by two more 40 minute breakout sessions, and finally another special speaker to close the learning day.
Participants pay $5 for the day made possible through sponsorships garnered from area businesses, agencies, or individuals. Asking for financial support was a big challenge for me – I was only able to get one agency sponsorship and more would have been appreciated. One of the favorite parts of the day for participants is the door prize drawings done at lunch and at the end of the day, the prizes are donated by area businesses. The best thing about the conference to me, it enabled nearly 400 participants to continue in a culture of lifelong learning, either for the day or maybe for the rest of their life.
I thought the internship was just going to be more of what I had done in the past as a volunteer, but quickly realized there was much more in store. The saying trial by fire is very fitting for my time. Much of my time was spent alone in the office calling and registering participants, speaking with presenters getting descriptions of the presentation and the speaker bios for their introduction in their breakout session, as well as contacting sponsors. The challenge was being able to get that work done while our students came in person to register for the conference or handle other class issues (which I did not have clearance to do) so at times I met with vented frustration from our clients. That was difficult because all I wanted to do was help them figure things out, even if it had nothing to do with SEEK.
The rest of my time was spent organizing seventeen Sociology students to prepare goodie bags for the participants, and work throughout the day as hosts/hostesses – service learning that was counted toward their final grade for the semester. I believe the agency wanted to give me an opportunity to network and have another set of trusted hands to organize the day.
I have enjoyed this opportunity immensely. I have learned to embrace networking even at the ripe old age of 49. I have been reminded once again how vital team work is in an organization, as was mentioned in each of the scholar’s presentations. None of us could accomplish the tasks set before us without the help of another, which is personified in the partnership between the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education for the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program.