by Susan Rinne, APSE Board President
Summer time has always been a time for me to look forward to being with old friends, making new ones, and making a list of all the things I have learned and want to put into practice….Summer means the APSE Conference. For over 25 years, I have taken a week to re-energize, revitalize, and renew my commitment to our organization, the only one promoting employment for all. Let me tell you why you should go to this, the largest employment conference in the country.
You will never forget the experience. Recently, I read something about conference reflections that put that APSE experience simply. Sometimes you’ll sit and listen. Sometimes you’ll talk to other people. Sometimes you’ll laugh. Sometimes you’ll think “what on earth are they going on about now?” Sometimes you’ll think “I wish I could be more like her.” Sometimes you’ll think “that’s something I can do myself.” Sometimes you’ll think “I can use that”. Sometimes you’ll be really bored, and wander off into thoughts entirely of your own, and have a brilliant idea which will change your whole life. You will come away with lots and lots of ideas, your own and others.
You will come away with a feeling that you are not alone. That many people believe what we believe (at least 1,000 of them). When I first learned about supported and customized employment, there were few others that I could talk with. Over the years attending APSE events, I became acquainted with people who challenged me to think even farther. Those experiences lead me to understand the power of expectation in what we do every day. If it wasn’t for that, I may never have thought it possible to change an entire organization to support people in the community….and how many others have been changed as a result?
Every year I come back with a list …a shopping list, things that I want to learn more about, implement in the agency, or suggest to our state policy makers. Come to the conference and you will bring back your own list….so make sure you have a pen or pencil or tablet with you. Here are just a few questions to ask yourself as you attend sessions at APSE in Cincinnati.
- What do I want from this session?
- What might I need from this session?
- What do I agree with most?
- What do I disagree with?
- What new thoughts have come into my head so far in this session?
- What’s that joke I’d like to remember and try out on other folks?
- What was the best thing altogether about the session I enjoyed most?
- What must I remember to put on my shopping list?
You can add to the list even weeks later, using your notes as triggers for discussions with others to generate even more ideas. This makes the experience last even longer! See you in “Cincy” and I promise to share my shopping list with you!