STD Convention: The Untold Story

You might’ve seen in the Almanian (on the second page) that six members of the International English Honor Society traveled to Portland, Oregon, for the Sigma Tau Delta Convention. I was one of those six women that traveled 19 hours via van, train, subway, max rail, and plane, to make it to a swanky hotel filled with 800 English majors, all ready to present their papers.

Before I left, I was approached by a staff writer for the Almanian and this question was posed to me: When you found out that your work had been accepted, what did you do?

Of course, they quoted me saying that I squealed and waved my arms around and danced around my room and then called my parents and cried.

I’m one of those people. I’m not ashamed.

But the point was, the six of us (Alice Richard ’13, Maggie Heeschen ’14, Christina Rann ’14, Erika Schnepp ’13, Kelsey Blades ’14 and, well, me) went to Portland to talk about Shakespeare, The Little Mermaid (not the movie), Beowulf, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and to share our original poetry.

This is the story not told in the Almanian.

First of all, we should mention that the International English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, is STD. Believe me, we know. We were headed to STD Convention. The seven of us embarked on a great journey to the mystical land of Portland, ready for STD Convention, whose Twitter name is @EnglishCon, not @STDCon. For good reason. I entered the Twitter contest, so if you follow me and suddenly wondered why I had nearly 200 tweets with @EnglishCon in them, that would be what happened.

Our first day in Portland was spent touring the city. If you don’t know anything about Portland, Oregon, know this: it is a town of hipsters. While walking to Portland’s famous doughnut shop, we saw a large bike group of hippies passing out flyers to help fight pollution. We found an organic sandwich shop where we had lunch and where we were hit on by the guy taking orders. We wandered around and took hundreds of pictures, debated which Starbucks to go to (there was seriously one on every corner) and somehow ended up at Portland State University in the middle of the night. We ventured to Powel’s Books, the biggest bookstore in the entire world, where I promptly got lost and couldn’t find the elevator. I spent way more money there than I could afford. But when you’re an English major in the biggest bookstore ever, you have to buy something.

When we were not traversing the city (normally with Erika and Christina taking turns pushing me in the hotel’s stolen wheelchair) we were sitting in on convention panels. I was presenting my original poetry portfolio, hunting whales (the lack of capitalization is a tribute to e. e. cummings), and there were four other students in my panel. The critical papers had panels of four students. We all tried to attend each other’s panels and we spent each morning scanning the long, thick program that we had gotten upon arrival to see which panels looked interesting. We sat in on original fiction titled Coping Mechanisms, Erika and I went to a poetry workshop, Christina and I attended a keynote speaker who talked about authors that used bacon as bookmarks, and I fell in love with a beat poet who wrote about gender fluidity.

We met English majors like us in crowded elevators. We learned a lot about each other, our respective fields (poetry, Shakespeare, modern American playwrights, Anglo-Saxon literature, etc.) and we discovered exactly how many people across the country are as crazy as we are about the English major. I met a Phi Sigma Sigma girl who knew a Gamma Phi Beta girl in Colorado, and we met a really nice guy named Chris who goes to Western Michigan University, writes poetry, plays guitar, and might be, in fact, perfect.

The convention ended with a huge gala dinner that everyone dressed up for, and while I was eating fancy dessert and hoping that I didn’t get chocolate on my dress, I really took in the idea that every single college student in this room was like me; an English major with original work that had been accepted to this prestigious convention and who was trying to make something of themselves. Every single person at that gala dinner had something to say, had something to write about, and wanted to change the world through the beautiful field of English.

Next year’s convention is in Savannah, Georgia, and is ’20s themed. You better believe that I’ll be submitting something and going. And hopefully I won’t be required to use a wheelchair.

For your enjoyment, here is a nice picture of me. In the stolen wheelchair.

Emily with a dinosaur in Portland

I’m not sure why I have a dinosaur. But I do.

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