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Oct 5, 2007

The Nomadic conference

Most of us love to travel. Tourism, of course, is not the best way to do it; far from it. First, it is very expensive. Second, you do not get to interact with locals; waiters and hotel clerks are the extent of your local friendship circle. Third, you get to experience pre-packaged, touristy things, mainly because you don’t know where to find places with real-life flavor. And did I mention it is expensive and not tax-deductible?

What if our School made a deal with a teacher education college in another country? It goes like this: a group of us come to your institution for a few days, say, during Spring break. We stay in your homes, and hang out with you. We put together a conference on teacher education, so we exchange our thoughts and experiences. Next year, or in the Fall, we do the same in reverse: you come to us on the same terms, we do another conference. Not only this would be more meaningful, and more fun than tourism, but we also could claim professional development funds to cover some of the expenses. The rest we can legitimately claim to be professional expenses on out r tax returns. Then we hook up with another institution in another country, and do the same thing again; perhaps inviting the first one to join as well. So STE’s traveling circus snowballs in a global network for teacher education.

One rule: No elite institutions. It’s just hard for us to relate to, say, Tokyo University or Beijing University, or Moscow State. We are in a different business, so we need someone like us, who trains teachers, and does it well. So, let’s call it “ The Off-Center Nomadic Conference”

I figure, if we go to, say, Siberia, it would add to about $2000 per person, half of which can be paid for by professional development. Perhaps Office of International Education and other University bodies will pitch in some more (Eugene? Got cash?). After all, we’re building the best kind of international collaboration, based on personal contacts, which can and will result in greater opportunities for students. This will also let us build the sort of experience that makes us a community. Just imagine fun of having been left behind in the middle of trans-Siberian railroad, or playing a drinking game with some very determined Russians. On the other hand, I am sick and tired of Russians, of our railroads and our drinking games. Perhaps some other country would be more interesting.

Here is my wish list:

  • Morocco
  • Brazil
  • Israel
  • Norway
  • Czech Republic
  • UK
  • Chile
  • Singapore
  • Egypt
  • Ireland
  • Swaziland
  • Georgia
  • Japan
  • Germany

What is yours?

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