AUTHOR: linda TITLE: Trade winds DATE: 4:06:00 PM ----- BODY:
Weary after several hours dragging myself through the harrowing tidal wave of an information-hungry, oversubscribed mob of attendees, to this mega-sponsored, ultra-paneled event, in a stark hotel ballroom without enough air, refreshments, sound or seats, I found my humble, bizdev-hostess soul brightened at the end of the night seated in the joyous surrounding of a bustling, full service grill and encouraged by the friendly faces around me.

A friend, a colleague, and a stranger joined me at a table, where, with the promise of food and drink, we proceeded to spend the next hour in an enthusiastic exchange -- not about business or on the panel topic or about networking, but about culture and community and family.

All of us at the table were German in some way. D moved to the US after a high school study abroad program in Portland, where he met his wife. M moved to the US in the 80's to study comparative literature at Stanford, and started a second career in technology instead. H is the child of academics who went to school on the East Coast but returned to the West Coast where she connects with her fellow Cal classmates. And (people are often surprised to learn) I was born in Germany and raised in SoCal, knowing German traditions but not the language.

We talked about coming to America, and how that meant opportunity and openness not found in Germany, but often at the cost of loyalty among friends, finding interest to explor other places, or a place having any history. We discussed family left behind, and how that's the hardest part of being here. The best part being this salad bowl mix of people, who can do just about anything for a living. I talked about how the US population just reached 300 million, with more sons and daughters of immigrants than non-Hispanic whites, when the last 100 million was reached in 1967, and before that, in 1915.

Time stood still for the four of us seated around the table, exchanging ideas. This is not the kind of conversation one could have while networking, or in the hallways at work, or via email. Thank goodness the winds took us in this direction, tonight.