Monday, October 8, 2007

A Few Days in Cali

When I was at Fresno State, I was part of a National Coalition Building Institute campus team ( that was founded in 2001. Shortly after September 11, President Welty sent six of us -- two faculty, two staff, and two students -- to Washington DC for a 5-day training institute so we could start the team; he wanted to make sure our campus felt welcoming to everyone. We learned to conduct 1-day Prejudice Reduction Workshops (PRWs), as well as how to facilitate a Controversial Issues process to help groups who are at odds with each other to recognize and work toward shared goals. We built a great campus team, and their work continues -- even without me, believe it or not. But a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get flown back to Cali for a few days to co-facilitate a PRW with Francine and Jody, two of my best friends, who were part of that original 6-member campus team with me. I stayed over a few days to see friends in Fresno, and even was able to drive to Sacramento to help family celebrate my oldest niece's 7th birthday. While I didn't manage to get pics of everyone along the way, I've loaded a few here so you can see some of the folks I got to visit.
This is Jody, me, and Francine -- the Ya-Ya's. Francine's daughter, Ife-Chudeni, took a bunch of fun photos for us before I moved back in June, and this is one of my favorites.

The PRW was all day on Thursday, and on Friday, I hung out on campus all day, dropping in and surprising old friends there. Most of the people I visited were faculty and staff I used to work with, but I also saw Denise in the morning when she got out of one of her classes; she's a kinesiology student now on campus. This is a pic of us at Sea Otter last year.
Of course, I went to my old department -- Child, Family, and Consumer Sciences -- and visited with friends there. This is a photo of some of us in May having lunch together after one of the many graduation ceremonies we all attend. Left to right, this is Sean (faculty), Katie (faculty), Ling (one of our students who was working at the restaurant because she hasn't graduated yet), Alma (faculty), and Marianne (faculty). I also saw Gary and Marilyn in our department, but they weren't with us at lunch in May. And I met the new secretary, Jenny, who I'm pretty sure would have loved me had she had a chance to work with me.
I saw quite a few other friends, but I don't have pics of all of them: Felicia Gomez, Dennis Farris, and even new assistant professor, Kristi Hill. That was a kick, as she was my first cycling coach back in 1999, and she's just been hired at State! I really wish she'd been hired last year so we could have worked with each other.
At the end of the day, I popped in to see Belinda. She was hired as the CFCS secretary the same year I was hired, so we "grew up" together. She left to another department right before I left. I think she couldn't handle the thought of being in the department without me...who can blame her? This is a shot of us at the Latino commencement in May.
Wednesday and Thursday nights, Katie (in restaurant pic above) took me in, which was really fun, as she has four daughters from just under 2 years to 8 (or 9?) years old. And she recently moved into a new house, so it was fun seeing that, too. I kept her up way too late talking, though, when she had class prep to do. Now that I'm not teaching, I'm pretty selfish that way. Not wanting to overstay my welcome, though, I transferred to Juli and Mark's house for Friday and Saturday night. This is Jul and me last year at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Jul is a breast cancer survivor, and she has had a team each year since her diagnosis. 2007 is the first year I haven't been a part of it, so that's a bummer, but I'm very thankful I was in Fresno when she was diagnosed so I could be there through it all with her.

On Saturday, I rented a car and headed to Sacramento to meet family at a Build-A-Bear-Workshop to celebrate Abbey's 7th birthday. Can't believe my oldest niece is already 7! This is her (4th from left) with her little sister, Alyssa (farthest on left) and four of her friends after they all "built" their bears.

Abbey's mom, Cathy, and her littlest sister, Emma, are here with other sis-in-law, Missy, and my youngest niece, Lacey -- kickin' back while the big girls built their bears. My mom and big brother Bill (Abbey's dad) were there, too, but I didn't manage to get pics of them -- they're quite elusive when the paparazzi is about.
Hard to say goodbye, especially when my youngest nieces are all cozied up in the back seat of the pick-up, looking too cute for words. Left to right, Emma, Lacey, and Alyssa.
Sniffin' back tears, I headed back to Fresno and hung out with Juli and Mark back at their place. On Sunday, I went to services at my old church, then went to lunch with friends from there, before flying back to the bubble.
It was a great trip.

1 comment:

Denise said...

Those girls are really cute...I, too, cannot beleive that she is 7 years old! I recall when she was born. Geez, time flies.