Initial impressions from the first days of 2020 NAFSA eConnection

I loved the image evoked by a NAFSA leader who wrote that seeing familiar names pop up in the chat box during eConnection was like running into friends in the hallways at the annual conference. I was surprised and delighted by the emotional power of seeing participants exchanging greetings through the digital platform.

When I am backstage before the opening plenary session at the annual conference, waiting to be cued to walk out onstage, I can hear the joyful murmur as friends meet and settle into their seats. That happy energy is exhilarating. This time I was at home, at my desk, waiting in the virtual “green room,” but I still felt the excitement of knowing colleagues were logging in from many different places. I felt the positive power of the shared moment.

I took time to be a participant as well as a presenter. Attending sessions and seeing the speakers on camera, up close, made me feel as if they were speaking directly to me. I visited the eConnection Showcase and enjoyed seeing how the exhibitors decorated their virtual booths. Given the potential of the online medium, each booth could take me on a different journey. Where will the next booth take me? What will they show me? Having the poster fair online allows me to dip in on my own schedule through the end of July. Of course, as I do each year, I stopped by the Conference Bookstore as well.

Though we all wish we were meeting in person in St. Louis, the enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and connect with each other were palpable during the first two days of eConnection. During this period when we need each other as colleagues and as friends, I am grateful that we have set aside these times to come together as a community—and I hope you join us for the remaining days of eConnection.