Last week I attended my first in-person conference in two years. The SIGCSE Technical Symposium is held in February or March every year, and the last time I attended it in person was March 2020. That conference took place right at the start of the pandemic and was cancelled hours before the opening session. While the conference took place virtually last year and was a good experience, it definitely wasn’t the same as being in-person and I was looking forward to getting back to it. I was also nervous about it since I hadn’t flown, or even ventured more than a hundred miles from my house, since March 2020.
Happily the conference was everything that I hoped and more. The organizers adhered to policies that made me feel safe attending, for which I’m grateful. Being able to see people I hadn’t seen in person for two years gave me such joy. As usual there were lots of great things I took away from the conference, including a vow to learn more about computing history inspired by the amazing opening keynote by Barbara Liskov. I was also reminded how productive the inadvertent meetings you have at conferences are since a hallway chat between sessions has resulted in a pending panel submission to a conference scheduled to take place this July.
I think though the most important thing I felt during the conference was a sense of closure. My badge from the conference helps to tell that story:
In 2010 I ran for the SIGCSE Board, having attended just a few previous SIGCSE conferences, and much to my surprise was elected. Over the next 12 years I attended the Symposium continuously, as is expected of people serving on the Board, and it was such a positive experience. I got to see how hard people work for the organization because they love it so much. And I learned a lot about myself in the process.
This year was the last time I will attend the conference as a Board member. Twelve years is more than enough time for any person to serve on the SIGCSE Board, and I have no regrets about what I did during my time on the Board. But I will miss being so closely connected to the people in the organization. I’m not sure what comes next for me, but it will be hard to live up to the experience I’ve had as a member of the SIGCSE Board.