On Saturday, November 16th, I participated and presented in two panels to a group of my peers at the University of Dubuque for a conference called Streamlines. This year was the first time I attended Streamlines. As an English minor, I had heard about this mysterious annual convention organized by the English departments from most of the universities around Dubuque. The other English majors and minors who were farther along in their class credits would share with me their papers and concerns about presenting. I knew that the different schools involved in the conference like University of Dubuque, Clarke University, and Mount Mercy held a very high standard for their presenters and the essays they accepted. I had always wanted to participate, if only to challenge my writing skills, but that does not mean that I was any less anxious or nervous about actually presenting a paper that I had written.
I went in expecting the event to be very large. I was imagining a lot of booths set up everywhere and people milling around and talking, planning what panels they were going to attend. I think I forgot that this event was being hosted at the University of Dubuque and they did not have such accommodations. The Tenth Muse booth and registration table were really the only booths I saw. I imagined the area to be open and large, not spread between two floors with winding hallways. I was also not expecting to be presenting in a classroom. I had always imagined the presenters would have to get up on a stage or podium by the way my classmates always talked about it. There were also less people then I expected, but still a good amount of people that managed to fill up the classroom seats.
I was really impressed by the level of writing and thought presented by the students. I had never met English majors or minors from other schools, but after I sat in the first two sessions and presented in the last two, I was very glad to hear that Clarke University was not the only University that made students write good papers. The first two sessions that I watched were about essays concerning gender, feminism, and queer sexuality first and toxic masculinity second. I found both panels very compelling and the panelists made a lot of good points. I especially liked the question portion of the panel. It allowed the audience to interact with the same material as the presenters but also allowed the presenters to think and look differently at their papers. They were able to learn if they had gaps in their research and what the audience cared to learn about.
I had been nervous to present my paper and participate in a roundtable open discussion, but I think what was beneficial to me was that I knew or was able to get along with the other people on my panel. You could tell that they were all talented writers, journalists, and graphic designers and they were excited to share their work. The first session where I participated on a Panel was the Publication Roundtable. The staff from different school newspapers gathered together and had an open discussion about what was hindering or helping their newspaper and the issues they faced. I think it could have gone a little better if we had a broader mixture of students from different school newspapers. As the only non-UD students, it was a bit awkward to bring up a totally different newspaper then they were talking about especially since the Crux is digital and the Belltower is print, but I think overall it was interesting to see how different school newspapers are run.
My other panel went much better in my opinion. It was a small group of people. This was a bit bittersweet because I knew that people would have been very excited to listen to our papers, but most of them had left because we were at the end of the day and most of the colleges were only requiring their students to stay for half of the convention. In terms of helping me present, the small amount of people in the room allowed me to be more relaxed and controlled. I was able to focus on my professors and imagined I was simply presenting my paper to them. My fellow panelists had very interesting topic and even though I had heard or knew what they were presenting, I was fascinated by their subjects and felt a pride that Clare University had participated in this convention.
Streamlines was an experience that I will not soon forget. As an English minor, I was very excited to see so many people passionate about writing and I felt honored that I was accepted to be one of them. The Clarke English department is so good at writing that I often forget that I am also a good writer. My skills in art have been tested and I am confident in them, but I think this conference was the first time I realized that I was a good writer. Since I am only a minor, I often feel like my skills are less than the English majors especially since I am a senior and most of my friends are juniors in higher classes. I felt that my paper was a very strong piece and my professors were excited to have me present it so that gave me a lot more confidence in my writing abilities. I think overall it was a very beneficial experience and has not only helped me gain more confidence in myself but allowed me to see what English majors were like and realize that I am very much like them even though I am just a minor. In the future, I will probably worry about my papers the same amount that I already do, but there is a new sense of belonging and reassurance in my abilities that I was lacking. As a representative of Clarke University’s English Department, I think our group did very well and I am sad that I graduate this year and won’t be able to participate in next year’s Streamlines.