Friday, September 7, 2012

Final Convention Day
                The final day of our experience at the Democratic National Convention was one that proved to be just as fulfilling. For me, it served as a great learning experience. We had the opportunity to get a few extra hours of sleep which I think everyone needed, but getting rest was not the aim for today’s events. This was my last attempt to truly pound the pavement, and was my main focus. In hopes that I could collect some valuable data; I was eager to return to the streets of Charlotte. In a way, they have served as my classroom for the week, and I was intent on not being late! I briefly stopped in Panera to upload pictures and videos. In doing so, I managed to become immersed in a conversation with the strangers sitting around me. This was more than just casual conversation; it exemplified a crucial facet of this experience that exists outside research or politics.
                Never before have I ever found myself in a situation where so many people of similar interests are all aggregated into one place. It created an energy that was palpable throughout the city. Journalists are packing into Panera pandering for any semblance of an electrical outlet. Just imagine, all these people dedicated to covering the varying aspects of convention week sitting together eating. Similarly, as a political science researcher, I often found myself engaging in conversations about politics, policy, and religion. To share the sidewalks with people all focused on being actively involved in the political process proved to be a scenario difficult to replicate. At times, I would stop along my walks down S. College Street and take a minute to take in the scene in its entirety. Charlotte is bustling with diplomats, delegates, elected officials, journalists, protestors, and supporters alike; all intent on making their presence felt. I have gained a new love and appreciation for the effort involved in conducting field research. This week has fostered a new passion within me to seek out opportunities to take my studies and scholastic interests beyond the classroom. Gone is the notion that a textbook can deliver all the necessary information that I need to properly understand my academic endeavors. Although I was captivated by the true energy and sights of the host city, I still needed to complete some more research. Unfortunately, my need to maximize my last day to collect data warranted a bit of concession on my end.
                While performing an interview, a considerable stint of rainfall forced me to take shelter and a brief hiatus. The hiatus, again, allowed me to take in the feel of Charlotte and its thousands of visitors. The rains subsided and I continued to complete my research; making the best of the remaining hours I had to pound the pavement. I could not ask for a more complete experience. In hindsight, this was an experience that I would not trade for the world. I had the chance to build comraderie, engage in probing conversation, and combine my zeal for research and academics into one single experience. Such an experience could not existed absent of one or all of these facets. It truly took this special amalgam to transform my life and academic career. I am truly thankful to my fellow political science researchers, the amazingly hard-working communications students, and our generous professors for sharing in such an experience. This would not have been, at all, the same without them. Now back to Georgia to compile this data and delivery my results.

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