My thoughts from the California Homeschool Network Conference. June 2016
Diane from CHN put me in an awesome room and made all my sessions there so I didn’t have to move. It was cool, dim and right off the main entrance to the convention hall. I came into my room and noticed most of the chairs were in a circle because the previous session was the ‘dads roundtable’. I sat down and thought “This is nice.” I opted to keep the set up, and I am sooo grateful I did. I feel it made all the difference in the way I communicated and the way the talk was received. I had a power point behind me that was basically some general notes that were more there to keep me on task than anything else.
At 10am there were less than 10 people in the room. I gave it a few minutes because 10am is when the conference starts. In the meantime, one of the ladies starts passing out zucchini bread, “it’s homemade zucchini bread, would you like some?” She turns to me, “I grew the zucchini, would you like some?” These are so my people!! I sheepish look at her and say, “I can’t, this is our month of fasting, I would otherwise love some.” She nods and totally understands and states some informative bits of info about Muslims and fasting. Meanwhile, two Hispanic ladies look at me like I’m crazy, “you fast for a whole month?” is their unspoken confused expression. I briefly explain what fasting is. By this point a few more people have come in and my hippie passes out more zucchini bread. At 10:10am I start my first session.
At 11am I’m not quite done and ask if they wouldn’t mind staying a bit longer since we started late. No objections. I’m soon finished and there are a few questions. “No problem,” I say, “I’m here in this room the whole day. Stay as long as you’d like.” They do. We chat, answer questions, and hang out. It’s awesome. My next session starts at 11:30. There are more people, but some of the people from the previous session stay behind. We add more chairs to the circle and start the next session. This one ends early. I can’t believe I finished everything with time to spare. Awesome, more time for questions and general chit chat. At noon, I remind people the session is officially over and they may leave if they wish. I don’t want to obligate people and anyway it’s lunch time. They clap. That’s cool of them. People stay. That’s awesome! We chat, laugh, answer questions for 1.5 hrs! “But your lunch?!” I say, “You didn’t eat lunch!” “We’re fasting like you,” they say. Awe, I’m touched. That was clever and sweet of them.
At 2pm I start my final session. It’s a full house. I’ve never seen so many Muhajabas (Muslim women who cover their hair) at CHN before. I count nine! And eight of them are in my session! It’s lively and everyone participates (well, you know many). I’m sitting the whole time which makes me feel like I’m leading a roundtable rather than giving a speech. I loved it. It runs over. I finish by tell people I can stay til the next session to answer questions and encourage people to stay for that one because it fit nicely with the one I just gave. I miss the speaker when she walks in and only glance at my phone at 3:26 just minutes before she’s suppose to start! I fly out of my set, collect my things and move out of her way. She was so gracious. I sit with Fauzia for a minute who isn’t sure which session to do next before I exit the room and chit chat with Farhaana, Parisa and Louisa.
I pray and drive home. The people in my sessions were awesome and actively participated. It was like being in my home talking with friends. I loved it.