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LU Student discusses first experience at HASBSEB Conference

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On Nov. 23, I presented two talks at the sixth-annual Humanities, Arts, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Education & Business (HASBSEB) Conference for the first time. 

In both my historical research and advanced expository writing class, I created a research paper. The English paper is called 'Accepting Death: The Uses of Grief Writing to Heal Unresolved Pain,” andthe history research is called “Satanism in Louisiana and the Initiation of the 'Mark of Cain' Bill.”

I had confidence talking about grief and the phases I went through to heal, because I have been writing about it for years. I felt less confident about my history research because I am still receiving primary sources over the phenomena, but I knew enough to present a captivating story. 

Thirty minutes before I began my talks, which were scheduled 15 minutes apart, I had the opportunity to casually discuss recent developments in my research with my history mentor, and he relieved me of all of my stress over presenting it to the public by saying that he felt like I really knew what I was talking about. 

So, I felt confident going into both of my talks. However, they did not go as I planned. 

When I began my talk on grief writing, I felt like I had surpassed the emotional outburst stage of losing two people that I loved very much, because I had been publishing articles over the loss, grief, pain and healing phases on a journalistic platform with both the Lamar University Press since 2017 and the Beaumont Enterprise since January. 

But as soon as I finished the introduction and went into how my brother died, I said his name and pain began to come out of my mouth. My body reacted in a way I have not experienced since the doctor said that he did all he could, but he couldn't save my brother. 

Then I looked down at my speech and tried to talk about the loss of my son's father. I knew I should have just read the paper word for word and saved myself a lot of embarrassment, but I knew I should engage with my audience. I looked out into the full auditorium and the sympathetic looks on the faces of my peers, professors and strangers didn't give me strength, it made me crumble. I felt like I was too far gone to save my presentation, so I walked away from the podium and told the audience how I really felt since we were all crying anyways. 

Afterwards, the only comment I got was from a peer, and she said, “I think you're really brave.” I did not feel brave as I grabbed my messenger bag and walked out of the room with as much dignity as I could muster. I felt like I was running away. I made it to the restroom, made sure I was alone, dropped my head and just cried. 

I felt a lot of things at that moment. I was really proud of myself for going through with the presentation. I not only learned what to expect at conferences, but that I had proved my point with handling grief through writing. I cannot speak about my brother or my son's father without breaking, but I can convey my feelings and my pain through writing — the healing aspects of pen to paper. 

After I dried my tears and fixed my face, I walked into my next presentation and delivered a presentation about Satanism and human and animal sacrifice, and how to fight the devil in court, not only with a smile on my face, but with relief that I was talking about something that didn't tear my soul apart, ironically.

Reality flipped my experiences; I spoke with more confidence with the history paper than I did with the English paper which I believed I was proficient.  I need more time to heal before tackling such an emotional topic to the public, which is why I resorted back to writing to convey my feelings about the conference.

Even though my presentations did not go how I imagined them; the experience was well worth it.


Category: Opinion