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Strangers to Friendship in 650 Miles

What a week!!

I just got home from four grueling days of technology training, and I thought I would give you a quick run-down.

A few months ago, one of my assistant principals asked if I wanted to attend an out-of-town technology conference.

I readily agreed and began learning details about the trip as the date drew nearer.

I discovered that there would be seven of us attending, and we would be riding together in a large, rented vehicle.

I grew a little nervous for several reasons.

First of all, I only knew two of the other gals, but not very well. Teaching is a busy profession that doesn’t lend itself to many deep conversations unless you teach in the same department.

I’m very shy around new people and tend to let my insecurities get the best of me.

Another reason why I was nervous was because I get carsick. I didn’t want to be the “difficult” person and ask for the front seat.

A third reason for my nervousness involved my vegan lifestyle. As you know, I constantly run into food issues when eating out. Once again, I didn’t want to come across as difficult.

We met in the mall parking lot on Sunday morning.

A couple of us stared at each other through our car windows.

I’m sure they were wondering, as I was, what the other girls would be like.

It wasn’t long before Lisa, the gal who picked up the rental vehicle, drove up.

She teaches at my school, has a fabulous room, and is in the math department. I really didn’t know much else about her.

Everyone piled in, with the exception of one gal, who wound up driving down later.

Before we got in, though, Carol, another attendee, asked if anyone was prone to carsickness.

Hallelujah!! My prayers had been answered! I said yes, and it was decided that I would get the front seat.

I had the uncomfortable task of telling everyone that I’d been sick, but not to be alarmed by my cough…that the doctor had confirmed that I wasn’t contagious, and that I had prescription cough medicine for the night time.

Talk about a get-to-know-you moment!

Off we went on our adventure.

Dunedin is 325 miles away from Podunk, USA, so we had a long drive ahead of us.

The gals in the back got busy on their phones and iPads while Lisa and I started chatting.

We made a couple of potty breaks before lunch.

Lo and behold, the group decided to stop at Subway! Another prayer was answered!! I was so happy that I could get a veggie sandwich! Christian music was even playing overhead!

We spent some time chatting and headed back out.

One of the gala is a librarian, and she chatted a good portion of the trip. Being the talker that I am, I was so happy! Her chat was just what I needed to break the ice some more.

We finally pulled into our hotel and quickly decided who was rooming with who. Lisa was kind enough to room with the sickie (me). I promised her that I would take my cough medicine so I wouldn’t keep her up all night. She took it in stride and told me not to worry.

We went out to Mexican that first night. What a menu!! I had a few options and was thrilled, even though my order was not fixed properly.

I quickly learned what nurturers the others were as they grew concerned about my speaking up. No worries. I did, and my dinner was free.

The next morning, we got up early, still not knowing a super lot about each other, signed in at registration, and went to our respective training rooms.

I was relieved when my new friend, Deana, was in my room. We chose a table in the center of the room and sat together, where the training coaches proceeded to completely fry our brains with new information.

Being the overachiever that I am, I began to panic. We leafed through the manual and saw that we were going to have to complete twelve pages for homework.

That is when the fun began.

During lunch, Deana declared that we were not going to stress out, would have some fun, and still learn a lot.

Carol and Lisa joined our room after lunch as well because they had been placed in a room below their technical abilities.

The party was on!!

We were respectful to our coaches, who were fabulous, by the way (the best we do believe), but we began to crack some jokes…perhaps where others could hear.

Heehee

Our running jokes kept the mood in the room light.

Oh, we were learning tons, but we were having a blast.

After training, we grabbed some dinner and returned to our hotel rooms for serious hours of work. We were all business, let me tell you.

The next morning, we were exhausted. Still, we entered our training rooms with mischievous grins and continued to have our fun.

Lunch was catered each day, and the director of the workshop had arranged for the caterer to prepare vegan dishes for me.

Score! God is so good in providing, is He not?

The third evening, we ate at the restaurant that was catering our lunches. We had a beautiful view of the water.

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Dinner was excellent!

By this time, we had all grown quite comfortable with each other, and the laughter was almost nonstop.

The remainder of the week was easier than the first day. We shared a lot of ideas with each other, along with a lot of technical know-how.

After class in the third day, we went on an adventure…even locating a yarn store!

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We found a very large quilting store next to the hotel, and Carol and Lisa bought a few goodies while I played the role of cheerleader.

Deana and I watched an episode of Big Brother on my computer, reminding me of the times I’d watched Chicky and her soccer teammates watch movies on her laptop during trips.

The camaraderie grew with each hour…with each meal shared…with each laugh that spread across the group.

We constantly talked about how much we were all getting along, and how unusual that was given the fact that we had not known each other at the beginning of the trip.

On the final day of training, I told one of our classmates that I was sure he was glad training was over so he could get away from us.

He said that he’d had a great week and that we had kept him laughing the entire time!

Deana had been a good influence on me, helping me to lighten up. I am usually very serious…too much so sometimes.

I was a little sad as we began our journey home. The 325 miles went by so quickly!!

Even on the way home, we were cracking jokes and creating what will forever be inside jokes.

For the record, if you ever decide to call me Allison, I’ll probably answer.

Heehee

When we got back to the mall parking lot from which we’d departed a mere five days before, the hugs were genuine.

I felt like I’d gained five new best friends. I’m not sure, but I’d venture to bet that they would say the same.

The long conversations during dinner and before turning out the light each night helped me realize that I’m not alone in my insecurities.

Talking shop with these talented teachers inspired me to work even harder to become a HOT teacher (higher order thinking skills).

As I listened to these gals’ personal stories, I was amazed at how they had overcome challenges to become mentors to children who, themselves, face incredible challenges as well.

Those 650 miles did more to grow me than any other training or book I’ve read (with the exception of the Bible).

I saw how God can change six strangers into extremely close friends.

I’m so grateful for the week and for the wonderful women I met. They changed my life, and I’m looking forward to staying in touch with them and growing…both as a teacher and as a person, in general.

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4 Responses

  1. Okay, this gives me courage. We have a women’s retreat coming up and I really dislike being stuck in a car for hours with people, I don’t know. Truth be told, I hate being stuck in a car for hours. period. So your post helps. Prepare the best I can, then trust God for the details. Thanks.

  2. Looks like you learned many valuable lessons this week besides technology ones! I believe in these very types I situations. My BFF and I were roomies at a three day workshop and that started our friendship. How are you feeling??

  3. Sounds like a successful workshop in every way : )

  4. I’m so glad you had a great experience despite your initial fears. I’m kind of in the “same boat.” I should be doing some last minute cleaning and organizing in my room, but I know there are other teachers at the school working and I don’t know them, therefore I feel so out of place going to the school….CRAZY, right? 🙂

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