2:30 in the morning is when my day started on Tuesday, April 5. I had packed the evening before and taken my stuff to the pickup. My flight left Lewiston, Idaho at 5:30 to Salt Lake City and then on to Philadelphia, the home base for Eisenhower Fellowships. The importance? I start my Eisenhower Fellowship experience.
The 2011 international Fellows arrived in Philly late last week and are starting their travels around the U.S. They are from every continent and by reading their bios, very intelligent. The 2011 US Fellows, me included, headed to Philly to meet them and to go through our orientation.
This is the first time in a few years that I have actually looked forward to traveling. Why is traveling not fun? One thing is getting up at 2:30 am. Another reason is spending most of a day either on an airplane or in an airport. Also I am away from my family and miss my boy’s activities. Finally, sitting in the row behind a 20 month old that throws up is not appealing.
The flights went well other than the hurling incident and I arrived in Philly at 3:30. Catch a cab to the hotel, check in, and then unpack the bags. Time enough to iron the wrinkles out, take a shower (to get the permeating smell off of me), and relax before going to dinner.
I head down to the lobby and the first Eisenhower person I see is Rhett Proctor, the other 2011 ag Fellow. We are friends on Facebook and have read each others bios, so it was easy to spot each other. After a couple of minutes of chatting Jason Riley showed up. Jason runs the US Fellowship program and is my contact person.
Jason’s friend, Ryan, was the chief organizer for the “Tastes of Philadelphia” Liver Foundation fundraiser. This event features the top chefs of Philly’s best restraunts cooking for one of 12 tables. We walk the several blocks to the event and are talking to each other like old friends.
The pre reception is going on when we arrive and we meet EF Director of Development, Tom Ferguson. Vice President of Eisenhower Fellowships, Dan Giesler, shows up and then US Fellow Brigitte Daniel joins us for the evening. The food was excellent and each course was paired with wine. A great experience.
After dinner Brigette went home and while Dan, Rhett, and I walked back to the hotel to meet the other 2011 Fellows for a night cap. Now the fun really began. I have three things going against me: 1) I have a hard time remembering names, 2) I don’t hear so well in crowded situations, and 3) I could not figure out how to pronounce some of the international names from their bios. Fun!
I am not going to name everyone there, but there were 11 international and 4 US Fellows present. The interesting part is how sincere everyone was to meet each other and the conversation flowed very easily. This is the start of the EF experience. I can’t wait and look forward to see what happens on day 2.