Tuesday, August 10, 2010

White. Styrofoam. Cup.

photo from officemax.com

One thing that I hate about my sometimes-job is that I am required to attend 60 hours worth of interpreter workshops every 3 years to maintain my certification. Most workshops are held at least an hour away and cost a fair amount of cash. However, one of my favorite things about my sometimes-job is when the local university right here in my hometown holds its annual interpreter conference.

The difference between this local conference and the ones held farther away is, in my opinion, significant. For one, I am a sometimes-employee of said university so after I shell out my minimal up front fee to register I am paid to attend for three days.


Another thing I love is that these workshops always end up being much more entertaining, interactive and just overall enjoyable than any others that I attend. Take today for example.

All of the conference attendees had previously taken the Myers-Briggs Personality Test in order to discuss the various ways that our personalities can affect our work. My personal results were surprising and interesting. In order to help us see the differences in personality styles, the presenter pulled out a white styrofoam cup and asked us to write a paragraph to describe it.

Most people's answers were something along the lines of: A white styrofoam cup. Used to keep things hot or cold. Holds beverages. Breaks easily. Things along those lines. I chose not to share my paragraph, because it was completely different from anyone else's...

At first glance it appears to be a simple, white styrofoam drinking cup. It is only when you really look at it that you can realize its full potential. Is it really just a cup? Look deeper. It could become a planter for a seed. A disposable pencil holder. Perhaps even a future spider trap or roly-poly collector. If you have ever been camping you have likely heard that this cup lets off some sort of toxins when burned. If that's true then it even has a slightly sinister side. This cup, like each of us, can be so much more than we imagine at first glance. This cup actually has some amazing potential, just waiting to be unleashed.

Funny thing is, for the rest of today's conference I started to look at all sorts of things in this way. Popcorn. Pencils. Paper. People.

All filled with potential beyond what we see.

I can't wait to learn what is in store at tomorrow's workshop sessions.


Amy said...

Fun! and Jealous! Jealous of your elaborate thoughts at a simple white styrofoam cup. Jealous of the people that get to be with you during that conference. Jealous that you are getting paid to go. Jealous of you for getting to have fun with all of those amazing interpreting friends. (Lets change all of the 'jealous' to 'envious'... it just sounds better). Gerb, have a FANTASTIC time! And continue to keep us posted. I can't wait to hear what else you learn and experience while you are there.

Richard & Natalie said...

I love your perspective and I wish I would get paid to do my CE. I love to learn, but getting paid for it would make it all the more fun.

Shannon said...

What an incredibly fabulous way of looking at everything around us! Thanks for the reminder, hope you are having a terrific time!

Teachinfourth said...

Note to self…don't let anyone see me burning in a fire from now on.

A Lark said...

I am totally going to remember this principle as my new students walk into the classroom in a couple of weeks! I may even put a styrofoam cup somewhere in my room as a reminder.... thanks! You are so creative!

Lori said...

I love your paragraph. You would've made everyone really jealous had you read that thing aloud. ;)

This is a great reminder to take a deeper look at the surface. Like it.

Rachel said...

Your paragraph is exactly why we all like you so much Gerb! You can see past our exteriors and take us for who we are and maybe just maybe see our potential.

Natasha said...

What a great way of looking at the world. I need to be more like that.

I'm visiting from Four Perspectives.

Gerb said...

Amy- The only thing that was missing was a few choice people, including YOU! I have some other great things to write about but I haven't found the time yet. Stay tuned!

Natalie- Exactly. I am amazed every year that they are still paying employees to attend.

Shannon- Thanks. It was a blast!

T5- What? Are you insinuating that you may have a sinister side? I guess we all have our secrets...

Lark- Sometimes it's the best way to view people we're unfamiliar with. My first inclination is often to be judgmental - not something I'm proud of. Maybe I should keep a styrofoam cup in my car, in my church bag, even in my purse?

Lori- Aw, shucks. Thanks.

Rachel- Reading people's blogs helps me see what's really there, too. ;)

Natasha- Thanks so much for stopping by and saying hello!