The Traveling Tales of Sigma Tau Delta by Sabrina Seiwert
Sigma Tau Delta’s Convention was an extraordinary experience! I had the pleasure of traveling to another state to listen to other students’ enlightening facts and opinions on well-known and not-so-well-known literature. Over the course of three educationally enlightening days, those students covered topics on their own bits of writing, books, movies, and video games – otherwise known as a nerd’s treasure trove of content! However, while the convention was exciting and I learned so much while attending, I want to enlighten you about our travels and all the action we experienced outside of the scheduled convention sessions.
At the Minneapolis airport, Lars, one of Sigma Tau Delta’s advisors, made a grave error. Breaking away from the excitement-ridden hustle and bustle of our group, under the guise of a “wander,” our esteemed professor had a brief photoshoot near a few airport signs. Unfortunately, the paparazzi, enticed by his pink Valentine’s mask caught up with him and exposed his secret career as a model. Who knew that the mask mandate could be so fashionable?
Speaking of, due to the numerous human bodies packed closely together at the airport, everyone traveling was required to wear a mask while on and off of the plane. At the Chicago airport (which we briefly stopped at while waiting for our flight), a skeleton of a dinosaur encouraged the crowd to brave the stuffiness of the mask mandate by wearing one itself. After all, if a dinosaur can wear one, why can’t we?
Once I received my ticket, I took one look and became quite distraught.
I had received an aisle seat.
I’ve been on a plane precious few times, and the little times that I’ve ridden on them I’ve cherished. I absolutely adore the sheer thrill of lifting off, the ground becoming smaller and smaller and with it, the weight of reality life burdens me. Up in the air, I feel as though I’ve stepped (or flown) into a mystical realm – just me, the sky, and my thoughts. It’s oddly freeing. And the turbulence that rocks the plane makes it feel like I’m on a roller coaster! Angie, another highly valued professor and advisor of Sigma Tau Delta, had been gifted a window seat on the airplane. She glanced over, witnessed the depths of my disappointment, and generously offered to switch tickets with me out of the goodness of her heart! (In reality, her window spot made her uncomfortable, and so she much preferred my seat I had been bestowed – I can’t say it didn’t work in my favor, however!) And how glad I was that I had been given her seat. I spent most of my time looking at the ground gradually disappearing below, the gorgeous Chicago skyline, and the sea of clouds lying underneath the belly of the plane.
While walking around Atlanta, I learned that the city had hosted the Summer Olympics in 1996. The Olympic events took place over the course of sixteen days, and 1.7 billion dollars were raised by private funding. This helped contribute to the creation of quite a few buildings in downtown Atlanta, as well as the Centennial Olympic Park, which we had the pleasure of viewing. Lars (as well as the rest of us) was all agog at this fantastic fact, and we proudly snapped a memory at our ever-increasing learnedness!
Walking around this interesting city left us a bit tuckered out, and so in true English fashion, our group plopped down at the one and only Centennial Olympic Park and read for a few hours.
However, we left the park right as I was finishing my book! I was at a crucial part in the story, and as I only had a few precious chapters left, I was desperate. I couldn’t leave myself hanging on the edge of the story’s climax! I’d go mad.
Suddenly, an idea blinked into existence.
It was a warm day in Georgia, and Angie decided she didn’t need to wear her coat, carrying it over her arm instead. As she walked by me, I lunged forward, aiming for the piece of fabric.
Would I make it?
Success. My finger hooked onto her coat, and there it stayed until I finished my book, my feet contentedly pattering behind her like a little duckling.
And, speaking of reading, our chapter stumbled across Atlanta’s Central Library, and it was absolutely amazing. It was originally known as the Carnegie Library and opened in 1902, thanks to the Young Men’s Library Association. The library was renovated in 1950 and its name was changed to the Atlanta Public Library. Unfortunately, the building was demolished in the 1970s, but was rebuilt and opened again in 1980! The people of Atlanta had an overwhelming wave of support and $275 million was raised so that it could be renovated, and is the beautiful building that I was able to witness – not just because of its stunning modern architecture, but also because it had ten floors of rows and rows of books! As a lover of the written word, I can confidently say I was in an earthly heaven. We stayed until closing time, and I reluctantly departed from my safe haven.
While libraries across the great US nation are my safe space, the pigeons of Atlanta did not have one while I invaded their territory. Whenever I saw flocks of them on the concrete, twitching and pecking around, I was filled with the animalistic urge to chase them. And so I did. How wonderful it was to see the derpy birds panic and flutter their plump bodies into the air, desperate to get away from me.
Fly, you fools. Fly.
We visited the Center For Civil and Human Rights, which was opened only eight years ago. Angie, ever the mom of the group, suggested we take a picture in front of the building, so Lars cheerfully complied and struck a pose!
Inside the Center was more sobering. It details the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and the struggles that he and his people faced in America. However, the Center doesn’t just stop there. It also illustrates the challenges of gender, racial, and sexual inequality that people face all around the world, and how we can take a stand to combat those injustices. Of course, I had been taught the basics of these atrocities in school, but it was shown in such an intimate way, complete with images, blurbs, videos, and interactive experiences that tore at my heart and shattered my composure.
Our last visit had me feeling down. On top of that, all the sightseeing made me hunger for food. My culinary experience was not disappointed. My palate exploded with enlightenment when I was traveling. I tried so many new dishes and loved each and every one of them.
Without further ado, feast your eyes on these:
While a few members of our group stopped off at a little Italian place nearby, the rest of us, the cool people, went to NaanStop, an Indian restaurant. How could I resist delectable Indian food hosted in a restaurant that had a pun for its name? My English Major roots were tickled by this play on words as I chomped away at my lunch.
I went to my first steak and seafood restaurant! I ordered shrimp scampi, and it was the best version of the dish I had ever experienced. The pasta had a light springy texture, gliding down my throat with ease, the cherry tomatoes tasted of summer, bursting with flavor with the slightest pressure of my jaws, and the shrimp… oh the shrimp. They were plump, they were full, and they were fresh, cascading flavor over my tastebuds. And yet… I had the slightest, bittersweet tang of regret as I was finishing the meal. I knew that it would be difficult to go back to regular, frozen shrimp after that experience. When we were done with our dinner, we were handed steamed, lavender-infused towels to wipe off our hands. What a heavenly experience.
At a quaint little restaurant called the Poke Stop, I was able to taste Poke, a Hawaiian dish! It’s basically a large bowl of sushi, and, fun fact, sushi is my favorite food. (Yes, I realize I have expensive taste) My only regret is that Mankato doesn’t have a Poke restaurant, so I won’t be able to eat it whenever I want. I suppose my wallet is silently thanking the heavens for that, though.
Prior to this trip, I had never tried Margherita pizza before. Not only did I get to try a whole new flavor of pizza, but I also had a whole one to myself, at that! Best of all the crust was thin, flaky, and fired to perfection in a stone oven. Mama mia!
Over the course of the trip, I ate enormous amounts of food, leaving my tastebuds tingling with contentment and my stomach uncomfortably tight. I eventually earned the title of Glutton.
I have no regret.
I had the pleasure of being able to experience things that I wouldn’t have been able to while sitting at a desk in a classroom. And yes, while sitting in one place, reading textbooks, and listening to lectures is a great learning tool, there’s something about getting out into the real world and experiencing new situations that is just as important. Walking around, bathing in the sights, the smells, the sounds, the tastes of Atlanta was something I wouldn’t trade for the world. I certainly wouldn’t have the same positive experiences and feelings that I acquired just by listening to them in a lecture. For that, I am eternally grateful to Sigma Tau Delta for annually hosting their convention in such culturally-rich cities like Atlanta, and I look forward to going to next year’s convention!!