Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ten Things of Thankful: BYU Education Week 2015

The challenge for this post:  to limit myself to ten things.  The only way I will succeed will be to not count each thing individually, but instead combine my observations into broad categories, and count the groups.


Photo:  Buildings at Brigham Young University, with a painted Y on the mountain behind


I spent the week in Provo, Utah at Brigham Young University for Education Week.  Every year, BYU's campus is filled with tens of thousands of youth and adults who come from all over the world (seriously--one of my classes yielded students from countries as diverse as Saudi Arabia and New Zealand).  Class topics are also all over the map:  from the arts and academics to self-improvement and sports. All classes incorporate the theme for the year.  This year's theme:  "Hope, an Anchor of the Soul."  I always leave Education Week rejuvenated and filled with hope.  In case it isn't clear, I love Education Week!

1.  I'm thankful for the beauty of the campus and the surrounding area.  BYU nestles against the Wasatch Mountains.  The grounds are immaculately groomed, but in a welcoming, non-sterile way. Though I've spent years on campus, I've never noticed a lot of wildlife--until this year.  I saw a family of quail, a raccoon, and a couple of deer during the course of the week.  


Photo:  A flowerbed filled with white daisies, yellow marigolds, and blue and red petunias.


Photo:  Papa, Mama, and 5 baby quail walking down a walkway

2.  I'm thankful for the little acts of kindness I've observed this week.  Years ago, I had a conversation with a friend that went something like this, as we discussed the Mormon church: 
Her:  "I hope this doesn't offend you."
Me:  (Silently bracing myself to respond to a tough question about the church.)
Her: "Mormons are just so nice."
Me:  "Why would that offend me?"
Her:  "It's just such a stereotype!"

Now, of course, niceness does not limit itself to Mormons, and Mormons are capable of meanness, too.  However, this week I could understand my friend's comment.  I've observed:  a teenaged boy introducing himself to an older woman, and helping her carry her bags up a steep walkway; countless examples of boys/men holding a door open for women; strangers conversing as they walk across campus or wait for the next class to start; a woman comforting another who was sobbing quietly; an instructor who put aside his own grief to teach one class each day, even after his mother passed away during the week.  

There is a palpable feeling at Education Week, as strangers come together united in belief, and I'm thankful I was able to be a part of that.

3.  I'm thankful for the words of living apostles.  Elder Neal L. Andersen spoke on Tuesday morning about how we can take comfort in the fact that the Lord is aware of the difficulties of the world, and grants a compensatory spiritual power to those who seek Him.  If you'd like, you can watch the devotional.  I'm there in the crowd somewhere!  

4.  I'm thankful for the classes I was able to attend.  Some of the classes, like the retirement planning class, gave me practical advice.  Others, like the class about the miracles found in the scriptures, gave me new spiritual insight.  I'm thankful for the time and effort all of the instructors spent in preparation.  

5.  I'm thankful for the evening performances I was able to attend. On Tuesday evening, we watched the musical, Crazy for You.  I was impressed with the dance choreography, and even more impressed that the cast included an actor with Down's Syndrome and another with another physical disability.  All of the performers executed the dance moves with precision.

On Thursday, we watched a performance by Gentri.  They are a relatively new musical group, but have spent weeks on the top 10 Billboard charts.  I love the rich tones and uplifting messages of their songs.




6.  I'm thankful for the chance to connect with old friends, and meet online friends.  Every year, I see friends from Washington state, and this year was no exception.  Also this year, I met blogger Heidi from Mormon Moms.  We had exchanged emails in the past, but it was nice to meet in person.  


Photo:  me and Heidi
7.  I'm thankful for the time I spent with youngest daughter.  She accompanied me.  We enjoyed singing to Disney songs on the long car ride to Utah, swimming in the pool in St. George, and going to classes and performances at BYU.  

8.  I'm thankful that we stayed in the dorms.  I didn't have to spend time each day searching for a parking spot.  More importantly, youngest daughter and I could be on separate schedules without either one of us getting annoyed.  I could be my early-bird self, and she could sleep in as long as she wanted to.  It worked out very well!

9.  I'm thankful for service dogs.  This is the first time I didn't see a working guide dog or a puppy-in-training, but I did see a diabetic alert dog.  It was nice to talk to his people.  On a related note, Willow is now in phase 3 of her formal guide dog training! I'm hoping that she continues to progress.  

10.  I'm thankful for John.  It is hard to be away from him for so long.  We spend so much time together normally--he even works from home--so I do miss him when we're apart.  However, I appreciate his support and encouragement of my yearly Education Week vacation.  
I apologize for my less-than-stellar commenting on blogs this past week.  I'm going to be fairly scarce this week, too, but will be back in the swing of things soon.  What are you thankful for this week? What do you do to recharge and rejuvenate?  





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8 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you were able to spend another great week at Education Week. Reading your post made me feel like I was there with you.

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    1. The mint brownies I brought you probably helped, too!
      And you are FRIST! :-)

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  2. hey!! I know that 'Y'
    lol (funny how the little things of commonality that stand out)… back when I used to go to Salt Lake City for a conference in the Spring, I always stayed at the Grand American and I almost always ended up with a room on that side and would see the 'Y' on the side of the mountain in the morning.
    cool

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    Replies
    1. I've always enjoyed seeing the Y on the mountain. It just seems to symbolize confidence and steadfastness. Kind of a, "Look, world, here I am, and I will continue to be."

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  3. Wishing you another great week with many thankfuls.

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  4. I like your 10 things and I have to agree that all of the Mormons that I have know have been very nice people! I love how family oriented they all are.

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  5. Love all the pictures, described, and service dogs. Yay.
    :-)
    Education is certainly something to be thankful for. Not all people can have access to it so easily.
    Have a good week.

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  6. Well, you are the only Mormon I "know" and if all the Mormons are just a bit like you, I must agree with the nice lady...
    I've seen the Y actually, last year when we drove from Yellowstone to Salt Lake City. Didn't know what it stood for and now I know.
    Always good to be apart for a little while. It makes you appreciate your partner even more I find. Since Henk is away every week from monday untill friday, you'd understand how much I cherish the time I do have with him every weekend...
    What recharges me? Reading... What I'm thankful for this week? Like every week; Henk (and books ;-) )

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Thanks for making this a conversation. I love to hear your comments!