Posted on November 10, 2009
For the past two days I have been in Washington, DC attending the UJC GA, otherwise known as the United Jewish Communities General Assembly. For once, I was happy to attend a work related conference. I checked the weather, which was due to be in the 60’s unusually warm for DC, and since I went to college in Maryland, it would give me a chance to spend time with my friends while I was in town (shout out to J.H., D.P.Z., D.Z., D.J., S.J., I.B., A.B., J.L., and V.Y. for their hospitality and a fun night out).
Before leaving for the GA I was instructed to network and “make connections”. I find this sort of thing overwhelming, but thought I could give it a shot. Oddly enough, I found I had to do a lot less of that than I initially thought. At the plenaries, the seats next to me were generally a breeding ground for people looking for a friendly face (that would be me). It made me feel great since all too often New Yorkers are given a bad rap for their demeanor. I always had polite conversation, sometimes lengthy, especially, when you have to go through security 40 minutes before the speakers begin. While we may not have been speaking about earth-shattering issues, I am hopeful that Daniel would be proud of the fact that I got out Areyvut’s name (literally) each time.
The forums and workshops (of which I could not tell the difference) were a different story. I often found myself walking in and out of them generally to take a phone call or to meet with someone. The itinerary is literally nonstop…there are programs on top of programs all starting at different times, in different rooms and it’s incredibly overwhelming for someone who is flying solo here. The people I meet whether at plenaries, sessions, or at the expo have all been impressed that I’ve been able to navigate (to the best of my abilities) on my own.
For someone who prefers to eat a quick lunch quietly, this has been quite an experience…spending time with thousands of “my new closest friends”. Though I doubt many of us will keep in touch, I am hopeful that there are a few lasting connections that have emerged from this GA.