Monday, November 19, 2012

Israel, Gaza, and Intercultural Communication in a Networked Society



This week, we have seen an escalation of conflict in the Middle East specifically centered in the Gaza strip in Israel. In a recent CNN video, “Twitter as a Weapon in Gaza," the news outlet focused on the  emerging role of Twitter in this conflict.

The report states that, in addition to traditional conflict, the “war is also fought online” as a battle for “public opinion” between Israeli forces and Hamas. Currently, the opposing forces are strategic in their use of social networking. For instance, the Israeli Defense Force is using #pillarofdefense and Hamas using #Gazaunderattack  on their Twitter accounts as a method for allowing a global audience to follow the events from these oppositional perspectives. In addition to using these Twitter accounts to shape public (i.e., international opinion) and, at times, dialogue with each other, an unintentional outcome of the online nature of this conflict is that it allows for the global audience to become more engaged in the dialogue as individuals across the world respond to these messages in affirming or critical ways and, in doing so, often dialogue with others about these specific event and the ongoing tension in Israel, in general.  Much like many of the event in recent years in the MidEast, Twitter and other social networking sites have changed, not only the nature of interactions between the groups directly involved in the conflicts, but also the global engagement and discourse surrounding international events.

Dr. Damien Smith Pfister and Dr. Jordan Soliz addressed this in their essay, “(Re)conceptualizing Intercultural Communication in a Networked Society” in the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication. Framing their ideas within the events and aftermath of the 2009 Iranian election protests, Drs. Pfister and Soliz argue that digital media (e.g., Twitter, YouTube) are changing the nature of how people are informed, persuaded, and, at times, become involved in the dialogue of intercultural and international events. As evidenced in this CNN video, this is no longer the exception but the norm as our networked society is bringing global events to our home offices, laptops, and mobile devices allowing everyone to be engaged in what, in times past, would be considered something happening in a “far-off place.” 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

COMM Careers Week, Day 1

The first day of COMM Careers Week was a smashing success. We went over to Career Services in the Union to learn about the different resources available to Communication Studies majors. Among the many resources we learned about was Husker Hire Link. Students workshopped their resumes, got practice giving their "elevator speech," and learned about networking resources.

Be sure to come to the Regency Room in the Union today (Tuesday) from 3:30-5:00 p.m. to hear why employers think Communication Studies is a great degree, and then drop by Room 202 in the Multicultural Center on Thursday, November 8, from 6:30-8:00 to hear from recent alumni!

There will be prizes!


Dr. Jody Koenig Kellas dropping some knowledge on peeps.

Christina Fielder, Assistant Director of Career Services, explaining how they help students  avoid ending up in their parent's basement.

Just a glimmer of what we learned.

A Communication Studies major learning how to scrub their Facebook account.

We had a great turnout!



Monday, October 22, 2012

Presidential Debate #3

Tonight marked the last presidential debate of the election season. This last debate focused on foreign policy with moderator Bob Schieffer.

Below are critiques about the debate from communication professors, students, and speech and debate members.

AP 2012

Daniel Wheaton, member of Cornhusker Forensics:


The strangest part of the final presidential debate was when both candidates agreed.

When it came to national security, relations with Israel and how to deal with China, the disagreement came in perspectives.

Both agreed to bolster our strength: either with a stronger navy or better technology. Both agreed to stand by Israel if Iran is able to get a nuclear weapon. Both agreed to stand firm on China's economic misdeeds.

As the debate went on, both candidates drifted towards the economy. Because the economy is most contentious issue in this election, the conversation drifted towards those issues regularly.

For policy hawks, this debate was blasé. Romney does not have enough foreign policy experience to adequately attack Obama. Without experience, Romney was backed into a corner by agreeing with the President. 


AP 2012
Jessy Ohl, PhD Student, Rhetoric and Public Culture:


Rhetorical critic Philip Wander has instructed that citizens and scholars should listen for which audiences and peoples are excluded in public addresses. The absence of any reference in the presidential debates to GLBTQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) issues such as gay marriage or the ending of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is incredibly significant. Critics of the first two debates had noted that GLBTQ rights had been left off of the docket. It was believed by many that in the third debate President Obama and Governor Romney would get the opportunity to discuss the inclusion of openly gay service members in the U.S. military. However, no question on the issue was asked and both Obama and Romney elected to completely avoid the subject. This decision is unlikely to satisfy gay voters which constitute a key voting block for Democrats.


AP 2012

Dr. Aaron Duncan, Speech and Debate Director:

In 1992 Bill Clinton famously put a sign on the door to his office at his campaign headquarters.  It read simply, “It’s the economy stupid.”  The phrase was meant to remind Clinton that no matter what the issue the real answer was America’s struggling economy.  It appears that both Governor Romney and President Obama are students of history, because a debate that was supposed to focus on issues related to foreign policy turned on discussion of auto bailouts, stimulus packages, and protectionist vs free trade economic policies.  In the end both candidates made clear that economy is really the answer to any and all questions this election season.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Speech & Debate Wins Second Big Ten Title



The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Speech & Debate team finished atop the Big Ten Conference for the second year in a row by winning the Conference Challenge Tournament at Northwestern University October 13-14, 2012. In October 2011, Speech & Debate won the first Big Ten title as UNL became part of the Big Ten conference.

UNL led the field with a two-day point total of 190, finishing ahead of second-place Illinois (56 points), and third-place Northwestern (53 points). Northwestern hosted the event.
UNL students captured seven individual Big Ten titles:senior Lauren Schaal of Omaha in persuasive speaking, senior Marc Otero of Lexington in program oral interpretation, junior Amanda Stoffel of Raymond in after-dinner speaking, junior Josh Planos of Omaha in poetry interpretation, junior Grace Kluck of Lincoln in dramatic interpretation, sophomore Reece Ristau of Omaha and sophomore Josiah BeDunnah of Lexington in prose interpretation. BeDunnah and junior Roger Allen of Firth won in duo interpretation.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Presidential Debate #2

Tonight marked the second presidential debate for the 2012 election season. Obama and Romney met at Hofstra University in a town hall meeting debate, in which citizens asked the candidates their own questions regarding foreign and domestic policy.

Compiled below are nonpartisan critiques from communication experts, ranging from professors, graduate students, speech and debate coaches, and students. 

AP 2012
Daniel Wheaton, member of Cornhusker Forensics:

The second act of political theatre had a very predictable plot— thanks to the political narrative.
These narratives provide heuristic shortcuts for readers of news. For example, Romney has been framed as an aristocrat while Obama has been framed as unable to complete some of his promises.

The debate furthered these narratives because each candidate used the context to attack one another.  

Obama ended on the 47 percent comment while Romney brought up events that angered the GOP.

The outcome of the debate was very predictable thanks to the narratives. All Obama had to do to “win” the debate in the public eye was use his perfomative skills to “zing” Romney.

AP 2012


Professor Damien Pfister, Communication Studies, Rhetoric and Public Culture:
The second Presidential debate was modeled after a Town Hall format. Usually, such formats invite very little interaction between the candidates. This year, with a tight election and a perceived need to be "aggressive," President Obama and Governor Romney interacted with each other quite directly. Obama was much sharper in this debate stylistically and substantively. One of the turning points in the debate was Candy Crowley's instant fact check of Romney's claim that Obama didn't call the Benghazi consulate attack an act of terror, which he clearly did in a Rose Garden speech the day after. Romney scored some points, though he is likely to be remembered more for his "binders full of women" remark than his repetition of the unemployment rate.

I would make two observations after watching the CNN ticker of independent voters in Ohio (the ticker tracks positive and negative reaction to what the candidates are saying).

First, viewers don't like it when the candidates talk over each other and jockey for speaking time. Every time Obama and Romney got into it--and they were both guilty of wrangling for attention at different times--the negative sentiment increased dramatically. This might be a silver lining for the Obama camp, who were guilty of coaching their candidate to be too polite in the first debate. Independent voters especially want their politicians to behave like grown ups who can negotiate differences without throwing elbows.

Second, these viewers were apparently tired of the anecdotal style of the candidates. It seemed like every time Obama or Romney started off an answer to a question with something variant of "well, it reminds me of a woman I met in Middle, America, who was also struggling," the negative sentiment increased. Once they turned to policy specifics, the positive sentiment increased. There are probably a few ways to interpret this, but I think it stands as evidence that voters actually want information about policy specifics rather than an endless litany of heart-warming or bone-chilling stories. There's a place for stories of our fellow citizens' struggles and victories, but anecdotes are too easily parried with counter-anecdotes. Both candidates might be advised to abbreviate their anecdotes and get down to brass tacks in the final debate--and what a debate it is shaping up to be!


Monday, October 8, 2012

5 Questions with Audra Nuru


Photo: Audra Nuru
Audra sipping some hot cocoa in Costa Rica!


Audra recently went on a trip to Costa Rica to gain experience working with multiethnic communities to help with her current research.  She describes her experience in Costa Rica and what she learned in 5 questions below…

1. What are your research interests?  
I am interested in understanding the communicative negotiation of multiple (and often contested) identities. Most of my research focuses on understanding how multiethnic/racial individuals communicatively negotiate and construct their racial/ethnic identities. Through my research, I observe how people from multiple racial and ethnic backgrounds negotiate both macro and micro discourses in order to develop an understanding of who they are as well as develop ways to articulate who they are to others. Specifically, I am interested in the ways multiethnic/racial individuals use combinations of micro- and macro-level discourses in the construction and negotiation of their identity.

2. Why Costa Rica?
Given my research interests, I was specifically drawn to Costa Rica for data collection because of its rich and incredibly diverse cultural makeup. I gathered most of my data from Puerto Viejo and San Jose because I was interested in observing perspectives of multiethnic/racial identity from Latino, Afro-Caribbean, and Bribri indigenous cultures. After talking with my doctoral advisor, Dr. Jordan Soliz, and my mentor, Dr. Tina Harris, I realized that gaining an international perspective on ethnic/racial identity negotiation is crucial in understanding the process of multiethnic/racial identity construction. As I discussed my ideas with both Drs. Soliz and Harris, Dr. Harris introduced me to the study abroad program that she directs through the University of Georgia-Costa Rica titled, “International Perspectives on Interracial Communication.” She explained that through this particular study abroad program I would have access to these unique populations and would be able to study the intersections of race, ethnicity, culture, and communication within national and international contexts. It honestly seemed too good to be true! I immediately applied to the program and the rest is history!

3.  What was the most exciting part of your trip?
I really did enjoy everything about the trip! It was such an amazing opportunity, and I am so incredibly grateful for the experience. While there were many “exciting” parts of the trip, I think my top two are: 1) learning from and interacting with indigenous tribes in otherwise secluded territories, and 2.) being invited to guest lecture about multiethnic/racial identity and the Communication Theory of Identity at the University of Costa Rica-San Ramon.

4.   What difficulties did you come across in your trip?
Honestly, I think the most difficult part about the trip was going home. I established such amazing relationships with the people there and it was incredibly difficult to say goodbye. The people I met and the stories they shared have forever changed my disposition towards life, research, and teaching; and while I know it won’t be too long until I can return, I honestly can’t wait to go back!

5.  What advice do you have for future students interested in going abroad for research?
Do it! It was such an amazing opportunity and it has enhanced my life in ways I could have never imagined. However, if you plan on collecting your research in Costa Rica, remember to pack some bug spray! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The First Presidential Debate 2012

Photo: AFP
Tonight marked the first presidential debate of the 2012 election season. Communication Studies scholars along with speech and debate coaches and students have written nonpartisan critiques regarding the challenges, triumphs, and big takeaways:


Professor Pfister, Rhetoric and Public Culture:
The format of this debate was a disaster. The moderator Jim Lehrer's
attempts to move things along were half-hearted, and he was ultimately
run over by the candidates. It's unfortunate, because there were
several "segments" that could have been discussed more in depth. That
said, a more freewheeling exchange did enable Obama and Romney to
provide rich contrasts between their respective positions. The
candidates' approach to the debate was evidenced by the direction they
looked: Romney usually looked straight at Obama, attacking his policy
directly; Obama usually looked right at the camera, appealing to the
American people.

Mitt Romney was--as expected, and as needed--fairly aggressive in the
debate. While we were primed to hear some real "zingers," no line was
nearly as memorable as "there you go again." Romney was very good on
specifics--identifying regulations he thought were unnecessary and
suggesting changes in the tax code that might stimulate job growth.
The problem for Romney in this debate is that many of his positions
have seemed to shift again--if the Obama campaign is smart, they will
run advertisements that compare Romney's positions in the debate with
his positions on the campaign trail, with his positions in the
Republican primary, and with his positions when he was governor of
Massachusetts.

Barack Obama's performance was classic "don't lose the game." Ahead in
most major polls and in the battleground states, Obama was
(ironically) conservative in his approach to the debate. The strongest
point for Obama came when he pressed on Romney's proposed
alternatives: what would Romney do to replace the regulations on Wall
Street? or how would Romney replace the Affordable Care Act (aka
Obamacare)? what deductions would Romney eliminate in order to pay for
his tax cuts? Obama's line about how Romney's plans must be so good
for the middle class that we can't talk about them is perhaps the most
memorable line of the night. But compared to Romney's energy, Obama
seemed listless and disengaged. Expect the Romney campaign to pounce
upon the need for new energy to revive bipartisan cooperation to solve
America's most pressing problems.


Photo: Rick Wilking, AP

Jessy Ohl, PhD Student in Rhetoric and Public Culture:
The most astute analysis that I heard of the first presidential debate came from CBS news anchor Scott Pelley immediately after the closing remarks when he stated “the only casualty tonight was the format.” Supports of both candidates should agree that the first debate was not particularly productive from a democratic standpoint. Neither side seemed willing to answer direct questions, list specifics, or follow the agreed upon time limits. Ultimately, the American voter was the loser of the first debate.

Dr. Aaron Duncan, Director of Speech and Debate:
The first presidential debate did as much to point out the problems inherent in our media system, as did to inform us about the differences between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.  In a night when both candidates kept closely to script and gave truncated versions of their stump speeches, members of the media chose not to than discuss the substantive differences between the two the debate highlighted,  but rather chose to focus on questions like “who had more energy?” and “whose answers sounded the crispest?”  The later being an especially odd choice, since it evaluates presidential candidates on the same scale used to evaluate lays potato chips.   Let’s hope that voters are more concerned with policies than potato chips when casting their ballots this November. 

Daniel Wheaton, Daily Nebraskan:
The first presidential debate on Oct. 3, had each candidate focus on different frames. Gov. Mitt Romney attacked with specifics, while President Barack Obama defended with generalities. Through the entire debate, Romney provided specifics on his economic policy and his opinions on healthcare and education. Riding off of a stream of gaffes, Romney used this opportunity to regain momentum lost during September. When asked about the deficit, Romney described it as a “moral issue.” Romney’s attacks followed the traditional Republican method. He voiced his support for fewer regulations, lower taxes and a diminished role of government. Obama repeatedly used emotional arguments to support his points, aiming to draw in less political audiences. Obama and Romney appeared to be gunning for different audiences: Romney was looking to convince moderates and liberals disenfranchised by the past four years, while Obama sought to convince people less involved in the process. This debate appears to be a draw. This boils down to the fundamental differences between each person’s economic or social opinions.
Photo: Getty Images




Stay tuned as we are continuing to add more critiques! Be sure to also add your own comments below! 






Friday, September 14, 2012

Congratulations to Dr. Kellas and Dr. Breshears on Recent Awards


Kellas Awarded Arts & Sciences Enhancing Research Excellence Grant

Dr. Jody Koenig Kellas was awarded a UNL College of Arts & Sciences Enhancing Research Excellence Grant for Fall 2012.  These grants are designed to assist faculty members in their research, scholarship, and/or creative endeavors to help them start, move forward, or complete a well-defined research project. The program is aligned with the UNL Chancellor’s ambitious goals of increasing research productivity and external funding for research and scholarly activities.  This is the inaugural year of this program and only four awards were made in the College of Arts & Sciences.



Recent Ph.D. graduate wins award and post-doc position

Diana Breshears (Ph.D. 2011) has been awarded a competitive post-doctoral position at the University of Pretoria (South Africa) Department of Educational Psychology.  She will be studying the school experiences of children with lesbian and gay parents and designing materials and/or workshops, based on her findings, to help schools create a more supportive environment for same-sex parented families. Dr. Breshears was also awarded the Sandra Petronio Dissertation Award from the Family Communication Division of the National Communication. This is the 8th year of the Petronio Award and UNL doctoral graduates have won half of the awards! 

2012 – Diana Breshears (University of Nebraska)
2011 – Elizabeth Munz (Purdue University)
2010 – Naomi Kagawa (University of Minnesota)
2009 – Carla Fisher (Pennsylvania State University)
2008 – Karla Bergen (University of Nebraska)
2007 – Meredith Marko Harrigan (University of Nebraska)
2006 – Rene Dailey (University of California, Santa Barbara)
2005 – Paul Schrodt (University of Nebraska)

Friday, August 31, 2012

5 Questions With Graduate Teaching Assistant Sarah L. Jones

1. How did you spend your summer?

I travelled to the Sophia Smith Collection (SSC) Archives in Northampton, MA on a Friends of Smith College Libraries Fellowship. The collection is internationally recognized and has been compiling various resources for over 65 years resulting in over 650 collections of archival material. I lived there for five weeks and visited the archives every weekday to research the International Women’s Tribune Centre (IWTC). During this time, I studied over 5,000 documents across 34 boxes. As the collection itself is currently holding 120 boxes with more expected this Fall, I anticipate another research trip to see what treasures are still waiting.

2. How does the archive fit into your dissertation project?
My dissertation brings together research from the fields of Rhetoric and Public Culture and Organizational Communication. Now defunct, the IWTC originated as the planning committee for the 1975 International Women’s Year Tribune in Mexico City. For over 35 years, the IWTC has worked with local and global organizations and individuals around the world to promote equality, development, and peace. The lifeline of this organization catalogued in its internal and public messages traces a number of important transitions of the last quarter of the 20th century. I am utilizing the archival documents to trace an understanding of peace that moves beyond the narrow, military definition of not fighting. Building peace, I argue, is essentially a rhetorical activity Toward that end, the IWTC holdings point to questions about the role of women in peacebuilding and strategies for negotiating peacekeeping in local and global spheres. The second consideration blends into another aspect of my dissertation: local-global rhetorical dynamics. The IWTC straddled working with international organizations such as the United Nations and local groups such as the Women of Uganda Network and unaffiliated volunteers. By studying this organization, I aim to illuminate the interacting discourses and power dynamics at play as principal participants navigated local and global goals and affiliations. In constructing a rhetorical and organizational history of the IWTC, my dissertation traces not only the organizational forms of the group, but also a rhetorical history of peace and local-global discourses.


3. What was the most exciting thing you found in the archives?
I am still analyzing the documents that I gathered. SSC allows researchers to take digital photographs of documents as long as the pictures are documented and do not use a flash. By the time I left, I had taken over 4,000 photographs. Thus far, I am most energized by the organizational life cycle the IWTC progressed through over its life. Established by a UN resolution, the organization’s purpose and actions were guided by that mandate and its planning obligations. Following the Mexico City Tribune, the group was flooded with letters requesting follow-up information about women’s issues and organizations around the world. After responding to these requests and transitioning from typewriters to Word Processors, the IWTC began calling itself an “information clearinghouse”—writing newsletters and compiling information contributed from readers into booklets such as “Appropriate Technology Resource Book for Women.” By the end of their timeline, the IWTC not only compiled and produced information for women, but members also coordinated local projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Looking at this chronology, I was struck by the shifting organizational forms that evolved in tandem with digitization. The IWTC transitioned away from a clearinghouse model to a responsive and participatory organizational form, a move that parallels how Communication Studies has drifted away from thinking about communication as a mere conduit for information exchange and towards richer, more dynamic models.

4. What was the hardest part about the archival experience?
I found the overall archival experience to be enlightening and enjoyable. I travelled by myself and lived somewhere new with people I have never met. I had fun exploring Northampton’s shops and farmer’s market. My walks to and from campus provided a great time for a mental debrief to create a plan for the day and sort out my thoughts afterward. While I was there to accomplish a research goal, I did not anticipate how alone I would be. During the day, the library archives are quiet as people work. While I lived with three other people, our schedules never quite matched up. I was caught off-guard by this, but I sent some friends and family postcards from SSC, talked to them on the phone and via email, and tried to feel connected by posting photographs of Northampton on Facebook. In the future, I think I will use these strategies and perhaps even set up a social schedule—phone dates with specific people at specific times.


5. Do you have any advice for future archival researchers?
When conducting archive research, logistics are important. Find out if the collection is processed and talk to the archivist about the organization of the holding. If it is not fully processed, then finding aids may not be available and if they are, they may not be complete. This was the case with the IWTC holdings. At SSC, I sat down on my first day with the first box listed. I went through every document in every folder and made notes about what each document was. This first box took the longest, but by the end I felt as though I was embedded in the collection. Moving on to subsequent boxes, I knew the format that different types of documents took, the kind of paper they were on, and whether or not they fit into my research agenda. This allowed me to progress through future boxes more efficiently (and I think effectively).

After developing this kind of familiarity, I recommend making a plan. Considering the size of the collection, your plan may have varying degrees of specificity. First, look at the finding aids and rank the boxes as best you can (considering whether the collection is processed or not). Divide these rankings into tiers based on priority. I had four groupings: need to get through, love to get through, could get through, probably not helpful. The first tier contains documents that speak to topics specific to my research. Going down tiers, the likelihood that these topics are present decreases. The boxes in my last category contained documents such as correspondence between the IWTC and individuals asking for copies of booklets and newsletters that are in boxes in the higher tiers.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Speech & Debate Team Wins At AFA-NIET Nationals

The Speech & Debate Team just returned from the American Forensics Association-National Individual Events Tournament-one of the most prestigious tournaments of the year. Some highlights, from Director of Speech and Debate Aaron Duncan:

Overall, UNL placed 8th out of 83 schools. UNL was the top placing school in the Big Ten at the tournament. This is the 17th year consecutive year that UNL has placed in the top 20 at the AFA-NIET.

UNL advanced 12 events to outrounds (the top 24 advance in each event and event sizes range from 130-150 students), 4 of those events advanced to semi-finals and, three of those events advanced to finals.

Sophomores Jesse Sladky (Wahoo, NE) placed 6th overall in Communication Analysis and Josh Planos (Omaha, NE) placed 5th overall in Program Oral interpretation.

Senior Nick Herink capped off one of the strongest individual careers in UNL Speech & Debate history by WINNING the National Championship in Program Oral Interpretation. Senior Nick Herink placed 17th overall in Individual Sweepstakes (out of about 500 competitors). Prior to the start of the tournament senior Nick Herink was named to the AFA-NIET All-American Team.  Team members are chosen based on academic performance, community service, and success in speech and debate.

Watch Nick learn he has won the national championship below:




Wednesday, February 29, 2012

UNL Speech & Debate Follows Big 10 Championship with Nebraska State Championship!

The University of Nebraska - Lincoln’s speech and debate team were named the state champions this past weekend at the Nebraska Intercollegiate Forensic Association’s State Tournament, Feb. 18 hosted at the University of Nebraska - Kearney. This accomplishment is especially meaningful as the state fielded four of the nation’s top 20 teams in 2011.

UNL won the speech tournament with 123 points, the University of Nebraska-Omaha placed second with 109.5 points, and Hastings College placed third with 54.5 points. In addition to the team awards, UNL students captured a total of three individual state championships. Sophomore Grace Kluck of Lincoln won Program Oral Interpretation, sophomore Josh Planos of Omaha won Dramatic Interpretation and junior Patrick Sather of Bellevue won Prose Interpretation. In the pentathalon award, which recognizes individual students for a combined point total accrued throughout the tournament, junior Lauren Schaal of Omaha was third.

UNL placed second in the debate sweepstakes and won the overall speech and debate combined sweepstakes award for a fourth year in a row, a feat previously never achieved by a team in state tournament history.
The state championship marks the fourth consecutive victory for the UNL team this semester. The team is preparing to compete at the American Forensic Association - National Individual Events Tournament to be held at Texas State University - San Marcos, April 7-9.

--Aaron Duncan, Director of Speech & Debate

Congratulations to our newest Academic Star


Congratulations to Communication Studies major and William J. Seiler Undergraduate Leadership Award winner Emily Schlichting on being named an Academic Star. From the announcement:

On some level, it’s all very difficult to believe this is her life, Schlichting said. There’s something definitely to take away from it all: True passions in life don’t always start out as things you knew you cared about or loved. “The smallest actions lead to the biggest chain of events that you could ever imagine to occur,” she said. “It might not seem big at the time, but nothing big started out that way.”