Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 51 seconds

Stories of Connection

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 51 seconds

When Alan Levine emailed me to help promote his project of gathering stories of connection I tweeted it out to a lot of people and hashtags and my mind raced.  I had so so so many stories. I don’t know if they would all be interesting to others but they mattered to me.

There is my story with Alan himself, And my favorite part of it is when I realized how he knew me well enough to help me think about finding online parent support groups to help me through what I was going through when no one in my f2f understood what I needed.

There is my story with Rebecca that started way back in #rhizo14 and we got close just before she was diagnosed and it felt like maybe there was a reason we got close just before then…and we got closer through it…and got even closer when she (someone who was so generous in many ways during her illness) gave me the beautiful gift of being my buddy at #et4online and now we have a whole thing going called virtually connecting where we find speakers at conferences who are willing to connect and chat online with people who couldn’t make it – and awesome onsite people who are generously volunteering to do the exhausting job of onsite buddy… As Michael Berman recently said, we found a way to make the best part of the conference available to virtuals

And speaking of Michael Berman, it may be intangible to other people but this guy didn’t know me and has been caring and helpful in the most sensitive ways, and more recently he did something no one has ever done: he researched the best way to send me a gift by mail and found a way to do it that I myself only discovered very recently. Usually ppl ask how to send me gifts and often I tell them not to coz mail gets lost here. But he found the way. Not that this story matters to anyone else…but it matters to me.

And Susan Watson who tool the Ingredients of Me idea (which i took off Alan) and used it to engage a special student of hers who was a refugee from Africa but who really liked coding…and then that student and I connected via email as well.

And then there are people like Laura Gogia – with whom I connect on so many levels that I don’t know if I could spell them out in a tangible way…so much of how we connect is so private that I want to keep it and cherish it and protect it. She recently wrote about our connection on her blog and even though she captures a lot of the dimensions of our relationship (I do remember peer reviewing her article and telling folks at Hybrid Ped that this article was particularly close to my heart because it was Laura’s and I had encouraged her to write it), there is so much more in it than we could ever write, really. Laura and I help each other navigate complex situations with others in our f2f and online in ways that make me feel like we know each other more than some of my close f2f friends (tho i love them so much, too!) I don’t know if people in our f2f can imagine how much we give each other online. We can’t hug but we are there for each other in ways that help us through so much and enrich our lives so much.

There is a reason why I once dreamt of Bonnie Stewart helping me on a tough day in my life. I have never met her but I felt close enough that I could seek her help – even in my dreams.

There are so many more people and connections. Shyam Sharma and the edcontexts group, so many of my rhizo friends, so many ppl I have met in different cMOOCs like Tania Sheko and Michael Weller and Autumm Caines and i can’t write them all out because they are accumulated micro-amazing stories of connection that take place in private but make a heck of a difference in my life. And i have a long love story with Hybrid Pedagogy and the people in it, too šŸ™‚

So what is it, really? What’s my connection story? I honestly don’t know. I was going to say I needed contact w mom academics but that only covers ppl like Laura and Bonnie and Lee but not everyone here. I was going to say it’s a hunger for connecting over discussions of education but it’s not really the case because much of the really valuable stuff happens when we talk outside of that altogether. And it’s really personal, like the story of how Simon Terry and Kevin made my birthday so much more special this year. Or the time we connected over anger (includes Shyam Sharma) and made this. This hangout on recorded here was one of my favorite ever to host because it has so many special people I love.

Cliquish, maybe? It’s a small-ish field and social media makes it seem like a really small world.

I was thinking recently about how i often know editors of journals or organizers of conferences and wondering if i should do something about it. Then i realized something: when i start out NOT knowing them, i tend to get to know them anyway. I mean, I wasn’t BORN knowing Jesse Stommel or Michelle Pacansky-Brock – i got to know them. Some people are easier to know than others, just because…

I am rambling now aren’t I? šŸ™‚

So Alan, I don’t know how to put this into a video for you!

9 thoughts on “Stories of Connection

  1. I was reading fast in the hope of coming across my name mentioned by you as a connection. And there it was. So happy because you are an important connection for me too, Maha. Good luck with the video.

    1. But if it wasn’t it wouldn’t mean less. I didn’t write a lot of important ppl coz i didn’t have time to make my wishlist! I should though šŸ™‚

        1. Aw don’t feel bad. You can’t name everyone. I know this is something you struggle with. It’s a good problem to have – too many friends šŸ™‚

  2. It would take a full time staff of 20 to produce all your stories of connection, Maha. Or one blog, as you do.

    The video matters to me and it does not. It matters because much of our connection is textual, and there is something truly personal about hearing the sounds of each others voices. Yes, we can do more know with hangouts and Skype, but the storytelling voice goes to the place where we are raw humans not just academics and tech geeks. It’s really the voice I like, not even the video.

    But it does not matter as much as the act of just reflecting on them in writing. I did not see Laura’s post. I did not know the full reach of the Ingredients thing. I knew of some of the connection with Michael, but did not know of the gift thing. And the point is not having to know them all, but knowing they are out there, and sometimes I will just haphazardly stumble into them. The excitement is that complete unexpectedness of these happenings, and heck, in times and places of worry, I just like a bit of celebration.

    So its possible we never get to meet in person (that will be sad). But without this medium we never would have known of each others existence, how the heck w/o the internet would I get to know an educator in Cairo? Just using the word “amazing” there is an ginormous understatement. But that we know something of each others lives, struggles, joys, shared publicly and privately, well that is the stuff of life for me.

    The video really does not matter. Maybe that trips people up, the ask for a video. And if you want, I can do what I did the first time, we can set up a hangout or skype and I can make the video.

    The stories surpass surmount supersede the videos.

    1. The video tripped me up in 3 ways. A. I am not at work often enough to upload sthg so huge; b. I have so many stories it WOULD be huge and c. I wanted all my stories to be collaborative with the ppl involved. We talked about em but haven’t “done” them. I considered screenshots w text but i thought u wanted voices šŸ™‚ so maybe hangouts, I don’t know šŸ™‚ i enjoyed reflecting and i am sure i missed a ton of awesome ppl in this post!
      But yes, thank you internet and inshallah one day we will meet in person. We will get there

      1. I struggled with the video for many of the same reasons. I actually stayed late at work one day and looked through others videos on Alan’s site and planned to record that night. But then it was total context collapse when I went to record. Which stories should I tell and what if I leave someone out and is that even as interesting to everyone as it is to me and what does it look like 5 yrs and ahhh eeekkk okay maybe I’ll do it later. And I’m still spinning.

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