1. When your students are upset about not making finals, you have to hold it together. You can shed a tear on your own later. These same kids can also teach you a thing or two when they shake it off and start immediately thinking about what their project will be next year. They're not thinking about IF they make it back to Nationals, they're thinking about WHEN they make it back to Nationals.
2. Having 2500 like-minded kids in one place is a pretty powerful thing. It's great for our kids from Fairfield, IA, to see that there are LOTS of other kids like them in the world.
Awards Ceremony Parade of States
3. There are lovely people, all over the U.S. Brad from North Scott (they dominate Iowa NHD every year) made sure I got to NHD in the first place. We figured out the Metro together, and he was just an all-around helpful guy. Plus, his daughter was a part of the only project to place at Nationals this year! Sue from Columbus, Georgia, guided me across campus that first night a the University of Maryland. I kept seeing her smiling face throughout the week.
4. Washington, D.C. is awesome. Awesome. AWESOME. I actually feel sorry for people who live there because I bet they just become accustomed to the wonders all around them. I saw many things this trip that I'd never seen before: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, World War II Memorial, Ford's Theatre, and the Library of Congress. I was blown away by all of them. I was blown away by every other thing that I'd even seen before. It's an amazing place.
Library of Congress
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
6. Coming home to a fiancé is pretty great too.