Saturday, March 12, 2022

Michigan, take three

In October 2019, I keynoted the MAME conference in Michigan and after, I booked a potpourri of school visits in the state for March 2020 and beyond.

You might remember what else happened in March 2020.

So one group of schools, in St. Joseph, MI (on the shore of Lake Michigan) rescheduled me for 2021…and then when 2021 revealed itself, the schools rescheduled me again for 2022. 

This trip finally took place the week of 3/7/22…and was more than worth the wait. Students and staff were sweet as cherries. (The sweet kind.)

In an effort to be more environmentally responsible, I now tote a reusable water bottle to visits rather than accept one-time-use plastic bottles. Tip: do not fill your bottle in your layover airport, put it back in your backpack, and stash it sideways in the overhead bin. 

Also not fun: when the car rental company doesn’t know the number of the space where your car is parked and asks you to find it by wandering the lot while pushing the unlock button on the remote till a car’s lights blink/horn honks. Detracting more from the fun: when it’s dark and snowing, and the car is on the far side of the lot, and the car doesn’t blink/honk because (at first unbeknownst to you) one of the rear doors is not quite closed.

But it was all uphill from there. After two invigorating days on the western side of the state, I drove three hours east to visit a middle school in a Detroit suburb. 

A few notable moments there:

Two questions I’d never been asked after a presentation: 

  • May I have $20? 
  • Where do babies come from? 

(You can guess my answers.) 

Though teachers were mortified, I didn’t mind. Both questions, of course, got a laugh from other kids—and there’s value in that. And both kids came up to me to apologize (likely due to an adult’s prodding). One of the two then asked not one but several thoughtful questions.

My favorite moment was during the 7th grade assembly. As I usually do, I said that Bill Finger’s son Fred was gay. Sometimes that fact triggers a reaction that is intolerant by way of ignorance

The school produced Bill Finger pins for all 6th graders. Most wore the pin on their shirt...but not Finn.

This school was the first time a group of kids cheered and applauded it. I read the looks on their faces—it was genuine, not mocking. They were jubilant. I was overjoyed. Hope springs eternal again.

Special thank you to Jamie Culver (west; in following photo, on right) and Maureen Watson (east) for taking lead!

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