At 10:35pm, I think we all breathed for the first time all night.Capture

That day, school had lasted 14 hours, and I think that I can speak for everyone when I say that we were exhausted. But I can only speak for myself when I say that I was happy.

Just happy to be a part of the entire production known as Night of the Notables, and to hear success stories of learning centers; bits and pieces of interesting discussions, interactions, and conversations. There seemed to be a buzz in the room as we held hands for our closing circle, and despite our exhausted state, most people were in high spirits. We had pulled it off.

The grade tens had impressed the audience with their speeches, the grade nines ran around behind the scenes, making sure that the clockwork of the night ran just right. Our learning centers were now packed up and slung over our shoulders, and it had seemed unreal that all of this was over so quickly.  Just a bit more than a month ago, we were pondering what person to study, and now all of our work is now nestled into the thoughts of our visitors, strewn across the headlines of our blog, and bundled up in the bags on our shoulders; reaching more people than I had imagined just a month ago.

And I was happy about it.

Near to the beginning of the night, through all the craziness of committee work, set-up, and last-minute touches, the thing that I was most looking forward to was my learning center. When it the time had finally come, after the performing of the grade ten speeches, we rushed back to our learning centers and tried to look less frazzled than we actually were, as the first visitors trickled upstairs.

My learning center, described in a previous post, seemed to attract a fair amount of visitors, perhaps because of my high-traffic location, or (as I like to think) my intriguing display. As it got more and more crowded on the upper floor, many people would recognize the name of my eminent person, and saunter over. Most of my conversations started with a similar opening line, explaining why I thought Sally deserved to be named eminent, not only for her most well known accomplishment, but for her influential lifetime in science. I appreciated that people gave me the chance to give them a brief history on my eminent person, but in most cases, discussions following this varied quite a bit. I found that the conversations that I had with my visitors depended  on their own interests and questions, which gave me an insight on what people thought was important about Sally, what in their minds made her eminent. For example, I talked quite a bit with someone involved in youth education and counseling, and our discussion mainly centered around the involvement of girls in science; a musician at the school asked me if the song Mustang Sally had been written about Sally Ride (it wasn`t).

All of these interactions left me with a feeling of satisfaction, that most people were eager to have meaningful conversations with me, rather than a one-way lecture. I found that most of the visitors were more interested in talking to me than looking through some of the resources I had displayed on iPads, but there was quite a bit of participation in my interactive component (see previous post). My question, `Would you accept the flowers`, attracted a lot of attention, and people became curious about the colourful sticky notes-responses along the border of my poster. I was surprised to find that there was variance in the responses, and that some people were quite… passionate about their ideas. Below (as promised) are the responses that I received:

  • No, because it`s singling out the woman instead of celebrating accomplishments.
  • No, and Sally was right not to. EQUALITY.
  • I would take the flowers as a gift to my colleagues-not just for myself.
  • No, because it would go against everything that she strived for.
  • It would only sexist if I took it to be. I`d appreciate flowers as flowers.
  • I would accept the flowers. It was a gift to (her)
  • I would accept the flowers, as a token of appreciation.
  • I wouldn`t accept the flowers because it shows equality.
  • I would take them. It shows the appreciation and respect and it is simple way to do it.
  • I would accept them, separate the bunch and give some to each of my fellow colleagues.
  • Well, yeah, but only to be polite, probably as a reflex without bigger thoughts.
  • Yes, she should accept the flowers on behalf of the group
  • I would accept them but say that I am accepting them for the team.
  • I would distribute them to my colleagues.
  • I would take them an give them to my male colleagues.

And I am not quite sure about this one…

  • I enjoy the sight of flowers because the parallel the fleeting beauty of mankind. mmm…death.

Looking over the responses, I found that there was a strong belief that accepting the flowers would be surrendering to sexism, but quite a few others came across that thought the flowers should be distributed to Sally`s crew mates. I wasn`t seeking for one answer or another, but really  to offer more than just one explanation or motive behind Sally`s actions. I think that that was accomplished.

So here we are again, contemplating this rite of passage in the TALONS world, the Night of the Notables. For the grade tens, it was the last time they would be the ones presenting their own eminent study, and for us, thoughts are already forming for next year. It was a successful night, one that I believe really showcased what we strive for in TALONS. But there is still a bit of time before next year`s eminent study. Yes, lots of time.

But next up: In-depth.