All the linens were piled in the hall. There were last minute conversations, hugs, exchanges of contact info, bags loaded, and a rush for the school bus that would take you home (or at least to your connecting flight). Was it the end of summer camp? Sort of – the iEARN conference felt like a Global Ed Summer Camp.
— Connie Rensink (@rensink_connie) July 9, 2018
Held in Winchester, Virginia on the campus of John Handley High School, with accommodations in the dorms at Shenandoah University, the 5-day International Conference and Youth Summit brought together 200 educators and 200 students from across the world to focus on Global Collaboration for Sustainable Development. Divided between educator and student tracks, workshop topics included the Sustainable Development Goals, Global Competence, World Peace, Virtual exchange, and many more global education initiatives. Many of the sessions shared iEARN global collaboration projects that are already established or are launching this fall.
Beyond the great ideas and resources, this intimate gathering offered the chance to get to know colleagues and inspirational youth who are equally passionate about integrating global experiences into educational practice. The days were designed with coffee breaks and common room meals to give everyone time to get to know one another and to find possibilities for new partnerships in the coming year. Culture night, the Taste of Virginia dinner, musical performances to begin morning sessions, and a day set aside for excursions celebrated both local and global culture. The warmth and care participants showed as old friends reunited and welcomed new friends to conversations are testimony to the power of classrooms collaborating virtually through iEARN connections.
I came to this conference because my friend Dr. Tonya Muro told me about it. She was a light and a leader in global education. Sadly, Tonya passed away suddenly in March, yet the vision and spirit of worldwide collaboration she embodied was seen, heard, and felt this week. Through it all the iEARN team welcomed, smiled, soothed, solved, laughed, coordinated, sang, danced, and hugged everyone too. They were awesome camp counselors! Congratulations to them for hosting an amazing event that modeled how to build intercultural community - I look forward to ‘camp’ next year!
PS. I will be sharing some of the terrific resources and projects I learned about in a post soon! If you can’t wait, check out my Periscope posts of speakers and sessions on Twitter @rensink_connie #iEARN2018