by Khalics Bryant
Tragedy often brings people closer. After losing three co-workers in a fatal airplane accident in 1987, the leadership of the division of student affairs at Western Washington University started an annual conference aimed at educating, rejuvenating, and motivating the division members before each school year. They titled the conference Nakama and on September 8, Whatcom Community College was this year’s host.
“Nakama is a Japanese word that means circle of friends,” said Sara Wilson, Special Assistant to the Senior Vice President and Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services. “The conference helps everyone in the division of enrollment and student services learn from each other and come together as friends.”
Each year The Nakama Award is given to individuals who advance the mission and goals of the division. This years winners were Sally Abbott, a custodian at Western for 28 years, and John Fuchs, head coach of the women’s rowing team for the past 14 years.
The Syre Student Center courtyard was flooded with more than 100 people nearly all wearing Western identification badges. Reggae music blasted out of two large speakers as the grey smoke from the barbecue grill floated into the blue sky.
The conference is held off Westerns’ campus in order to ensure those attending have the ability to relax and enjoy the festivities, and not have to worry about work, according to Wilson.
Having the conference on campus doesn’t allow “folks to unplug and get the rejuvenation that’s a core theme of this conference,” she said.
The conference consisted of multiple seminars with special guest speakers, Zumba fitness instructions, yoga and relaxation techniques, and more.
“To the right, lets go,” called the fitness instructor as she directed the 15 people, of all ages and races to following her commands.
“This is too much fun,” said the silver-haired woman wearing a multi-colored flower shirt and brown pants, as she bellowed out a laugh.
The theme for this years’ conference was “Renewing Energy, Embracing Change.” The morale of the division appears to be high as the school year gears up.
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