Tuesday, April 19, 2011

nkyin kyin: ALA Conference in Ohio

Sorry for the lack of updates last week!  We were in Ohio for Roger to deliver a paper at the African Literature Association's annual conference.  It was a wonderful time, and we got to see some old friends, but it did keep us busy, involving 20 hours of driving as it did.  Hopefully next week, I'll be back on my regular schedule.  Until then, here's a little recap of our trip:

Thursday, April 14, 2011 - Athens, OH

After a long Wednesday of driving, celebrating Roger's 23rd birthday, and putting the finishing touches on his paper, Thursday came as a big relief.  Roger delivered his paper, "Imagining Africa through the Multicultural Museum," first thing in the morning, and it went incredibly well.  The paper was a re-worked excerpt of his undergraduate thesis, and he gave it exactly one year and one day after he finished that behemoth, so I think it was a nice way to come full-circle.  I won't go into the details of the paper here, mainly because I'll probably not get down each nuance that Roger conveyed, but it went extremely well, and he had no trouble addressing the challenges of one particularly mean audience member.  He's still 100% focused on graduate school right now, but I hope that once things are settled with that, he'll be as proud of what he accomplished as I am.  He's a pretty smart cookie, that guy.
The view from OU
The rest of the day was spent in and out of panels, including ones on such interesting topics as: Reconfiguring the Global: Bodies, Commodities, and the Marketplace, Crossing Borders, Crossing Genres, New Writings and Explorations, African Poetry and Prose: Readings by Four African Women Writers, Local and Transnational Spaces in African Visual Arts, and a talk on genealogy by Laila Lalami.  They were all very interesting, and even the less interesting ones gave me some new ideas, so I'm really glad that we went.  It was also nice to be at a professional conference, which was, while very different in tone (and maybe not in a good way) from the conference in Indiana, a good experience for me.  Academia is a tough field, and while I'm not really entering it, it's a part of my life in a pretty major way, and it's good to get some first hand experience with it.

Roger at Salaam
Athens was a nice little town, mostly centered around the enormous university that it houses.  I'm always amazed by universities that become cities in and of themselves, and this was no exception.  The Baker Center, where the conference was held, was simply gorgeous.  A big, open building with a variety of amenities (including really good cakes and cookies and things for the conference), it was a really great location for the conference.  We didn't explore too much outside of campus, but we did have dinner (for the second night in a row) at Salaam, a recommendation from a friend I met in Indiana.  We went to the restaurant with Roger's thesis adviser, who is a poet and teaches Africana Studies, and had a wonderful meal.  Their harira is like nothing I've ever tasted (it even smelled beautiful), and I really enjoyed their hummus and coconut curry chicken.  After collecting our parking ticket (me? get a parking ticket? shocking.), we rushed off to the last panel of the evening, and headed back to the hotel (where JFK stayed in 1959!) around 10pm.  I'm not sure what Thirsty Thursdays are like in Athens, but I do know that I really enjoy getting to bed early lately!
Kroger x 2

Oh, and perhaps most importantly, Roger and I visited our namesake grocery store, Kroger, for the first time right before heading back to the hotel.  People seem to think it's pronounced crow-jer, but we know the truth!  While there, we bought a supply of gummies (for me) and seltzer (for him) and generally enjoyed ourselves in a grocery store that reminded me a bit of Wegman's in Geneva, with only one small difference.  Did you know that in Ohio, grocery stores can buy a special license to sell liquor?  Well, they can.

Next Up: The last day of the conference, and our last day in Athens, OH.


  1. It sounds like a highly successful trip.

  2. Yep! I love the liquor in grocery stores about Ohio. (Differences in liquor laws state to state make me insane).

    I've never been to Athens!

  3. Yep! I love the liquor in grocery stores about Ohio. (Differences in liquor laws state to state make me insane).

    I've never been to Athens!