- A U T U M N, 2 0 0 2 -


Experiencing the WACRA Experience Was an Experience

Dr. Mary Sweeney
Adult Nurse Practitioner/
Certified Diabetes Educator

My doctoral dissertation chairperson encouraged me to submit a proposal of my case study to WACRA for their acceptance for presentation at the 2002 WACRA conference in Mannheim, Germany.  To my surprise and delight it was accepted.  Now, the confidence dilemma began to raise its ugly head.  Was the proposal good enough?  Would it meet the grade expected of scholars?  I experienced peaks and valleys of anxiety.  Was I a fish out of water?   Or, was I a big fish in a small pond?  

The WACRA conference experience was chock full of information.  The days began with a tram ride to Manheim University where there were people from all over the world.  We ate in the University’s cafeteria and I shared conversations with new acquaintances.  These people from other places were wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, teachers, business people, yes, they were all human beings.

WACRA provided relaxing tours of the beautiful German country-side as well as informational tours of technology, castles and museums.  The WACRA participants were welcomed by German dignitaries.  We dined in elegant atmospheres with delicious meals and superb company, the conference participants.  We sang songs from our homelands, yes, the participants were family people who shared the spirit of the WACRA holiday with the WACRA family. 

Young Mannheim college students were polite and conscientious hosts/guides.  They shared their hopes and dreams for the future, yet, they never forgot their primary responsibility, attention to the WACRA participants.  Yes, they had families and our family roles became enmeshed with as we exchanged stories and experiences.

Oh yes, lack of confidence?, increased anxiety?, I almost forgot, there was not enough time to play into these negative aspects - they dissipated.  I observed one man throughout this entire conference.  His skill to coordinate the entire experience, strategically place persons with similar interests and experiences next to each other, and most of all have a wonderful time with ALL participants was an amazing feat to watch.  Educational and academic backgrounds could not mask the warm human nature of the WACRA  participants.

My attempt to share the WACRA experience pales next to being a part of the actual experience.  The experience was emotional as well as educational.  I will experience the pleasures of the experience for a long, long, time.