31 July 2011

Some Anticipations, Expectations & More for This Week's Second Annual Hillel Institute

Tomorrow, I am heading off to attend the second ever Hillel Institute and thought I would type out some things I am looking forward to and expecting, etc. Having attended last year's first ever Hillel Institute, which was a re-branded staff conference, I am excited to go back and have numerous thoughts about it.
1) It'll once again be ridiculously hot and humid in St. Louis, which won't be great. However, the air-conditioning was excellent last year and the Washington University campus is gorgeous.
2) I am stoked to re-connect with people from last year, from previous experiences in BBYO, and elsewhere. My favorites, though, are meeting and reconnecting with other rabbis, since we are a rare and unique breed. The best, though, is meeting up with my fellow YCTers, who represented nicely last year.
3) Twitter discussions. This includes not only conversations taking place on Twitter, but also conversations about Twitter. Last year, there were a dozen or so people tweeting at the conference, perhaps a dozen and a half. However, the real story was not only how little Hillel was tweeting about he conference, but how pathetic their tweets had been from the previous school year. However, they have really got their act together in the past year and picked things up in the fall, the highlight of which was their tweeting during the GA, which was certainly excellent. The rest of the year has also been good and my hopes are that Hillel does some tweeting about the conference from the conference. I also wonder how much I will get comments about my Jewlicious piece about Hillel's tweeting last year (linked above)....
4) This year's institute will be taking place during the Nine Days - I will be bearded up this year as opposed to last year and I hope I don't scare anybody off. Also, there won't be any meat served, aside from the first night where a siyyum will be taking place. So, that means a lot of dairy meals (poor lactards).
5) One really well done piece of last year's conference was the bar/beer night, where there were a selection of several beers along with cookies that they had a great supply of and it was a nice touch. I thought it was a splendid way to mingle and hang out in a very informal setting with our Hillel colleagues. I hope they do it again.
6) Another great plenary speech ....
7) Checking out the funky City Museum once again.
8) We'll be bringing our four-month old with us, which we will have babysitting handle for us, which shouldn't be a problem throughout the daytime, as she's pretty low maintenance. This is in stark contrast to last year when we came to babysitting on the second day last year of the new professionals institute to find our 16-month old crying on one of the couches in babysitting (needless to say, we did not bring her back there again) - babysitting for her there was a disaster! (We ended up scrambling and hired someone to take care of her during the day for the most part, but occasionally having to take turns miss out on sessions or events to take care of her.) I understand that there will be kinks with any event the first time it is run, but there were way too few babysitters for all the children that were at the conference last year. I truly hope that they fix that atrocious shortcoming. (Thank God we are able to leave our older daughter with family and not take her to the conference.)
9) Although I would like to see some discussion of the potential of QR codes and Microsoft Tags, etc., as I have previously written about, I doubt much of it will be discussed.
10) More social media: Last year, I was probably the only one or one of less than a handful of attendees using Foursquare - I hope there are more this year.... Also, last year, I came up with a Twitter hashtag for the conference, while Hillel FJCL has clearly been proactive in coming up with their own this year, which is a change and I imagine there will be more Twitter conversations going on this year, as there will [hopefully] be more tweeting going on this year....
Alrighty - I've gotta get going - my flight leaves in about ten hours....

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