The Michigan Hemingway Society Conference 2016: A Student Perspective
by Lily Rosenberg, 2016 Bill and Donna Coté Scholarship Award Winner
I had the amazing opportunity of traveling to Petoskey, Michigan for this year's Michigan Hemingway Society conference! It was an amazing experience, and one I will never forget!
I will first start out by explaining how I got the opportunity to participate. Mrs. McQuillan gave the opportunity to all of her former Honors American Literature students who are currently juniors or seniors to write an essay about how Pure Michigan relates to Hemingway. I took the opportunity and surprisingly won the MHS Coté Scholarship.
While I was in Petoskey, I learned a lot more about Hemingway and the town itself. I got the opportunity to talk to many of the people at the conference and have some really great conversations about the Literary Garden and Hemingway. I was also able to help Mrs. McQuillan with the presentation she gave on the Literary Garden. I was honored to be a part of it. Mrs. McQuillan told the society all about how the Literary Garden has influenced the school and the community. I even did a little bit of impromptu speaking about my experiences with the garden!
All throughout the weekend people were coming up to Mrs. McQuillan and telling her how amazing they thought the garden was and how they wished they had thought of it themselves.
On the first day (Friday) I met the president of the society, Chris Struble, who was very accommodating. The opening ceremony included Chris introducing many special guests and Mrs. McQuillan’s Literary Garden presentation. Then Mrs. McQuillan participated in a roundtable. From just that night I was able to learn so much about Ernest Hemingway. I was also able to connect Hemingway with other works I read in Honors American Literature, such as The Great Gatsby and the Transcendentalists.
Saturday morning we had breakfast at Jesperson’s which is thought to have been one of Hemingway’s favorite hangout spots in Petoskey. There was also a special appearance from Teddy Roosevelt! I had the pleasure of having breakfast with Mrs. McQuillan, Teddy Roosevelt and Dianna Stampfler, a certified tourism ambassador and a fellow first time guest to the conference.
Later that day we attended a tour of the town and all of the spots that are associated with Hemingway. Our tour guide, Chris, took us down into the underground tunnels of the city and told us some of the ghost stories. (They sometimes even reminded me of stories by Poe!)
Next we witnessed a speech by young Ernest Hemingway himself! He told us all about his life growing up and visiting Petoskey and the surrounding area.
Throughout the weekend I learned a lot about how Hemingway’s works relate to nature. Mrs. McQuillan and Chris Struble brought up a very interesting point about how in “The Big Two-Hearted River,” silence speaks louder than words. For instance, Nick Adams has come home from the war and he is able to just simply put up a tent without having to worry about being bombed.
I truly hope that other students will be able to have this opportunity in the future. I learned a lot, not only about Hemingway, but also about literature and just being in public situations with new people. You do not need to be in love with literature or Hemingway to benefit from this type of experience. I was able to talk to many teachers, professors, and even a journalist which helped me gain life experience and social skills for the real world. I encourage students who will have this opportunity to take it.