Faculty and Students from the Department of Art Therapy and Counseling attended The Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES) conference, entitled “Promoting Unity While Affirming Diversity” held October 16 – 20 in Denver, Colorado.
Early in the morning on October 16th at the Cleveland airport, my husband Jonathan Appel and I saw many familiar faces including counseling program faculty and students from other Ohio universities and colleges. The plane appeared full of Ohio counselor educators and counseling students, also on their way to the ACES conference in Denver (including one of our own PhD professors!)
Upon arrival, after three hours of headache, we were able to adjust to the Denver altitude. We reunited with the ATC program director, Gail Rule-Hoffman, completed registration, and reconnected with Korean doctoral students and faculty, whom we knew from prior counseling conferences. Opening reception was filled with familiar faces from all over the US and we could not wait to attend countless presentations including education sessions, roundtables discussions, and poster sessions.
On October 17th, Jonathan Appel, Ph.D. from Tiffin University, myself, and Gail Rule-Hoffman, ATC presented an education session, entitled “Teaching Diversity: Utilization of Experiential Learning Approaches.” The session was very successful, and we exchanged effective teaching tools with participants and received positive feedback. Dr. Appel and I presented a roundtable in the late afternoon entitled, “Walls and Bridges: Barriers and Opportunities for Effective Learning in Between Non-native Speaking and Native Speaking Educators and Students.” The session attracted many international doctoral students and faculty members and we were able to exchange research ideas and perspectives on being educated in United States.
On October 18th, we woke up with snow on the ground in Denver! The snow did melt quickly under the bright sun and blue skies– which lasted for the rest of the day. After completing the third presentation entitled “Similarities and Differences Between the United States and the South Korean Geriatric Healthcare Systems: Implications for Counseling,” we decided to spend the evening with our friend and his family who live in Denver. Before the dinner, we toured the famous Red Rock Amphitheater which was built in 1910. Since then various famous musicians have performed there. It was overwhelming with such a rich musical history and wish we were able to hear some of them in live concert (The Beatles play there in 1965). Later that evening we were reunited with the ATC faculty Katherine Jackson, Ph.D. and three ATC graduate students; Emma Pitchford, Nicole Topp, and Ashley Tilberg— as they all were also presenting at the conference.
Dr. Jackson and her students also had the honor of an accepted presentation. Dr. Jackson wrote “on October 19th, we spoke on the benefits of having student service learning in graduate school curriculums, using our El Salvador trip as a template. We also gave a brief overview of “lessons learned” in El Salvador, and the students were able to illuminate the audience with their in-depth learning and growth as a counselor/art therapist in training. Not only did we present our experience in El Salvador, but we heard amazing lectures and met some famous people in the field of counseling, we also had a lot of fun walking around Denver exploring interesting boutiques and sampling some Denver cuisine.”
According to Ashley Tilberg, “I feel like I got a sense for the diversity within counseling fields. Emma Pitchford added, “I also learned what the trends are in the counseling field.” Nicole Topp stated “attending the conference helped with my professional development.” All of them mutually stated “it was a great way to spend our fall break and it motivated us to attend additional conferences. “We do love learning!!! Poster presentation was also the way to go for us because we were able to have meaningful conversations with participants.”
By the Sunday morning– we were all tired and ready to return home. Dr. Jackson and Gail Rule-Hoffman left in the morning and the rest of us headed to the airport after the morning sessions. After deplaning twice with four hour delay due to the mechanical problems, we arrived in Cleveland well after midnight. We all managed our frustration very well, “mindfulness exercise work!!!” I am glad we all returned safely.
DoHee Kim-Appel, Ph.D.is Associate Professor for Art Therapy and Counseling at Ursuline College.