Why I Keep Coming Back to Big Ideas Fest

We love it when educators come to Big Ideas Fest for the first time. It’s even more exciting when they come back year after year. Ainsley Lamberton (Administrative Director, Office of the VP and Associate Provost for Research and Graduate Studies, Lehigh University) is a certified BIFnik, having attended in 2012 and 2013. 2014 will be her third year.

Here’s why Ainsley flies out from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania year after year:

What brings you back to Big Ideas Fest this year?

Big Ideas Fest has become the highlight of my professional year, simply because it breaks the mold in terms of experience. Each year I've attended, I've been pushed outside my comfort zone, surrounded by creative and supportive people, and felt empowered by the level of commitment to learning. I love being around such big thinkers from all different backgrounds and professional capabilities.

What was a highlight from your past experience at Big Ideas Fest?

I've loved getting to know the students from South San Francisco High School through Roadtrip Nation. It's a unique chance for the students to have an equal voice in the process, to literally get down on the floor with educators and brainstorm, and to hopefully be transformed by the end of our time together. Just a few weeks ago, Keanna Tofiga, one of the students from my Action Collab in 2012, went off to college at UCSB. It's been my pleasure seeing her grow to a mature, thoughtful leader since we first met in Half Moon Bay.    

What have you told your community about Big Ideas Fest?   

Change in higher education can be a tough nut to crack, and I've been eager to have conversations about how we need to let go of prior assumptions (about ourselves, the process, and the outcome), and look at our challenges differently. Specifically, I've said that Big Ideas Fest is the best professional experience I've ever had. 

Who should come to Big Ideas Fest? Why?

Anyone who calls themselves a learner. Anyone who is willing to shed their title for three days and push their boundaries!     

How has your experience at Big Ideas Fest impacted your work?

From a personal perspective, I find that the Action Collab process has made me much more aware of the power of being open and receptive to others' thoughts and actions. I regularly remind myself to pay as much attention to the process and possibilities, as opposed to jumping right to an "answer" and why we can or can't accomplish it. And I say "Yes, and..." much more!