Where have you been recently?
Can you believe that there are only five months until our annual conference? This year we will gather in another vibrant port city, San Diego. The seafaring spirit resonates with our 2017 conference theme, Local Voices to Global Visions: Exploring Identity in the Humanities. Explorers set forth from the familiar, the local to intentionally experience something unknowable. They encounter people who speak different languages, delight in unique artistic expressions and preserve their heritage in unimaginable ways.
These diverse human expressions expand the explorers’ ways of seeing the people who inhabit planet Earth. Indeed, the explorers’ vision becomes broader, deeper. A more global way of seeing raises the individual explorer’s vantage point a bit higher, above the mundane. The previously reflexive overshadowing of the others’ reality by his or her own personal preferences may be replaced by a humility borne in personal witness of the ever-changing expressions of beauty, tragedy, resilience and ordinariness.
Exploration can result in a heightened appreciation of both the lives of others and of one’s own life back home. Global explorations offer the potential for a new way of being, even after our hero is back in the calm safety of the home port. The explorers’ own identities have changed, as have the people in the foreign lands with whom they connected. There has been an exchange, for better or worse.
Such exchange is one purpose of our annual gathering. We gather in one port to share the results of our research out in the world, to educate one another about what we have discovered within our inner spaces and to celebrate the possibility of our common identity across cultures. It is our mission to ensure this exchange emphasizes both the appreciation and the uplifting of all parties.
Since our last meeting in New Orleans, my personal journey has taken me away from my beloved university. I have just started a new position with the Department of Veterans Affairs, where I will continue to explore and teach within the humanities.
What about you? We want to hear what you have to tell us about where you’ve been. Please save the date and set your course for San Diego!
HERA President, Barry Peterson