This year’s convention will be particularly special because the convention is being held in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA (March 16th–19th—mark your calendar!)
I was able to visit New Orleans in July when I attended the annual National Education Association (NEA) Convention. I am pleased to tell you that while New Orleans has suffered hard times, the magic is still there. It’s a very special place, unlike any place else in the United States (what other city has a bowling alley with live music?—visit City Lanes Rock 'n Bowl). New Orleans is alive and vital, and for those who worried that a reconstructed New Orleans was going to be more like a theme park than a real city where real people live, work, strive, and enjoy life—worry no longer. New Orleans is a place of soul and of music—a place not so much about monuments and tourist attractions as it is about the people and an approach to life. It’s an experience not to be missed.
For those who want to start getting in the mood now, there are many ways to get in a New Orleans state of mind. I’ve just begun to read John Kennedy Toole’s classic New Orleans novel, Confederacy of Dunces, which follows the picaresque adventures of one of literature’s originals, Ignatius J. Reilly (while in New Orleans you can see a statue of Ignatius in front of the Chateau Bourbon Hotel at 800 Canal Street). Would anyone want to start an online discussion group for Confederacy of Dunes? I’m at chapter seven. Ignatius has just been fired from Levy Pants for fomenting a workers’ revolt (which the workers ultimately found revolting and left!), and is now considering an offer with Paradise vendors selling hot dogs.
Or if you’re not up for a long a novel, consider viewing Spike Lee’s two “bookend” documentaries of the post-Katrina experience on HBO: “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts” (which chronicles the challenges of rebuilding the city in 2005/2006) and the recently released, “If God is Willing and da Creeks Don’t Rise,” which looks at New Orleans in 2009, with reconstruction underway and the New Orleans Saints football team winning the Superbowl. If drama is more your preference, get a taste of New Orleans’ attempt to pick itself up after Katrina in HBO’s series “Treme,” which takes its name from the New Orleans neighborhood of that name. By the way, I stayed in Treme when I attended the NEA convention and it is at least a funky at what you see in the television series. The episodes of the first year are now available online.
When I learned that I would be TESOL President in 2010–2011 I was elated when I was reminded that New Orleans would be the 2011 convention city. The Board had insisted after Katrina in 2006 that New Orleans be TESOL’s convention city to show of support to the Louisiana TESOL affiliate. I feel that TESOL is keeping this promise and doing our small part to help New Orleans become as great as it ever was.
Join us next March in the “Big Easy.” I am assured that the weather at that time of year is a blessing (especially for those who’ve experienced a long winter). Attend a great convention, meet your old friends and have a memorable experience in one of America’s truly unique cities. Venez nombreux, les amis!
You can find information about the convention at www.tesolconvention.org. Registration opens December 1, 2010.