So, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is in about a week.
I first attended the conference two years ago, the year the free bookbags were tan-brown canvas, bright poster graphic plastered over the front, black adjustable strap, not enough pockets.
The appearance of the bag is important.
You see, last year, I missed the conference because I was studying abroad in Australia. On a friend's recommendation, my GHC bookbag was the bag I'd taken with me down under for carting notes and texts across campus. My friend said, maybe it'll work as a conversation starter!
The scene: Day Two of international student orientation. The crowd of 18 to 24-year-olds, hailing from every country you can name and probably a few you can't, was in mass exodus from a lecture hall to a large space in the Wentworth building, intrigued by the notion of morning tea. As I was walking across the footbridge to Wentworth, a young woman came up to me.
"Were you in Colorado for the conference this past year?" She pointed to my bag. I couldn't help but grin, of course: there I was, halfway around the globe, and I had a pre-made connection to someone! It turned out we were in the same Number Theory & Cryptography course, too; it was thanks to our six-hour-a-day study marathons that I vanquished the final exam.
A conversation starter, indeed.
Needless to say, I'm looking forward to this year's conference!