Thank you notes from Dalewood students on display. Credit: UTC Department of Art, CreateAthonCHA 2011
CreateAthon onCampus was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve been through in quite a while. The creative output was intended for Dalewood Middle School, but I think I might have gotten as much as Dalewood out of the whole experience…maybe more. After ruminating on the weekend for a day or two (and getting back on a regular sleep schedule) I’ve come to some fabulous realizations from the event:
Our city is full of extremely talented professionals
CreateAthon had over 40 mentors involved and many of them stayed the entire 24 hours. They were as committed to the cause as the students were. They gave sound advice, insight into the working world, leadership, and encouraging words to everyone. Meeting these mentors makes me even more excited to get out into the working world because I know Chattanooga has a great camp of professionals to work with.
The place you want to be isn’t always the place you need to be.
I was assigned to the documentation team, and I will admit, it wasn’t my first choice. I thought it would be sort of a bummer that I wouldn’t actually be designing anything (at least in the literal sense). I don’t have much film or video experience and wasn’t really sure what I could contribute to the team. But as the 24 hours unfolded, I began to realize the unique position of the documentation team: we had the fortunate position to see all the other teams to create and interact. It was fascinating to see the groups evolve over the 24 hours! I also had the great fortune of conducting some one-on-one interviews. All I can say is wow! I had goosebumps multiple times and I think an “Amen” or “Hallelujah” might have slipped in there once or twice. The nuggets of goodness they were offering and listening to how these people had been touched by the whole event was inspiring and heartwarming. I felt I was in the right place at the right time in my position on the doc team.
Being apart of the doc team also sparked a desire to learn more about film and cultivate my love of photography. I never thought I would be as interested as I am now about video production and editing, but the day after CreateAthon, I was online searching for editing software and new a camera to purchase. So while it might not have been my first choice, my position on the doc team was exactly where I needed to be.
Others successes can be as fulfilling as your own
There were so many proud “big sister” moments for me during CreateAthon. Watching a few classmates embrace and flourish in their leadership roles, seeing others display focus and drive to finish projects, and watching them learn new skills and interact like true professionals instead of merely students made me feel so proud to be in their company. Watching my classmates grow professionally and as individuals might be my favorite part of the whole event.
3:00 A.M. is when you really know a person
I had the pleasure of working with some teammates who I didn’t know as well, especially the seniors in my group. Getting to know them through this project was a crash course in classmate bonding. When you are on hour Number 19 without sleep, the conversations can get crazy good. When all is said and done and we can laugh about toothpaste conversations and throwing things at each other…well, that’s bonding. Every one of my teammates has a special place in my heart after CreateAthon, even if their dancing skills may not. (I kid, I kid)
Making change starts with a small step
There were a few naysayers we came in contact with, mostly questioning what can we really do in just 24 hours. Change has to start somewhere and why not start with a powerhouse 24-hour marathon? When you add the amount of people involved in CreateAthon times 24 hours each, that’s a lot of brainpower working for one cause. There is some sort of magic that happens when you’re working on no sleep and pure adrenaline.
I love Chattanooga more now than ever
When I moved from Indiana to Chattanooga about two and a half years ago, I immediately fell in love with the city. The beauty of the environment, the bustling and promising downtown, the people, the energy and the potential all make Chattanooga a great place to live. All of these elements were highlighted this weekend by the overwhelmingly positive response to the unique opportunity CreateAthon provided for our area. The people of this city have made Chattanooga what it is today and that makes it an even greater place to be.