Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Boston & TESOL

When I first planned to sign in for the EV sessions, I was very excited. I carefully went through the sessions offered and opted for Multiliteracies and Images4Education. Soon I got too overwhelmed with work that I couldn’t keep up with any. I would read as much as possible. Whenever there would be a possibility to take part in a webinar I would, but it was quite frustrating. However, in the process I virtually met Nina, Vance, Rita Z, Hanaa and was looking forward to meeting some of them face to face in TESOL.

I was already an invited speaker to co-present in the CALL-IS academic session. The purpose was to discuss the role of educators in e-learning from an EFL perspective. It wasn’t easy preparing for that presentation simply because e-learning is not what I would call a widespread acceptable method in Lebanon and especially not at the school level which I teach. The invitation was initiated by Dr. Leslie Opp-Beckman who contacted the RELO office in Jordan. The RELO office generously sponsored my trip and also offered me the chance to participate in the English Language Fellow Program, a one-week workshop organized by Georgetown University and sponsored by the Department of State. It was my first trip to the US and the first time I present in such a context. 34 educators from 32 different countries benefited from the program. So the experience was rich culturally and educationally. Unfortunately, the program set for us left me no time to meet with some of the people I had met online via the EV sessions.

After one week in Washington DC, we arrived in Boston on Tuesday, March 23. It was a rainy cold day after a whole week of beautiful sunny days in Washington. Somehow, I managed to break my eyeglasses and wasn’t at ease using contact lenses. I was worried about my presentation and the work I still have to do putting the final touches to the presentation. Despite the drizzly weather, I fell in love with Boston at first sight. Everyone was so friendly starting with the bus driver who took us to the hotel. All the way, he told us about the major landmarks, and managed to point to us certain restaurants. After checking in, we headed to No Name, a seafood restaurant. I found the restaurant’s setting very attractive and the food was what most of us
needed after a lot of junk.

The Convention Center and the TESOL experience all in all is quite overwhelming; so much to esperience and such limited time! On Thursday, I met Nina by chance in the EV. I was very happy as I was looking forward to it but it was only 10 minutes before my first meeting with my co-presenters for the academic session. I knew many Webheads and friends were meeting on that same evening for dinner, but our group was scheduled to meet RELOs and Dept of State Fellows in a ceremony organized in our honor. So I had to miss that get together. The pictures look great by the way. It is obvious everyone was having F.U.N.

My meeting with co-presenters went great. Everyone’s feedback was quick and comprehensive. I couldn’t find Nina after that and failed to attend her discussion. I had filled the survey and was very curious about some of the findings she was planning to discuss.

My experience co-presenting in the CALL-IS Academic Session was a lot of fun in a way I hadn’t anticipated- not the same kind of fun for sure! I enjoyed sharing my experience and offering a new perspective about the kind of challenges an educator in Lebanon could face to involve young teenagers in online learning communities. I also enjoyed the interaction with the audience; I could somehow tell some people were not only educators but also parents. More on the session is available on http://tesol2010call.pbworks.com/


I had learned a lot about collaboration since I took my first online course offered by the University of Oregon in 2008, and many of the people I met online since then contributed to that learning process. One of them is Nina who is so committed and inspiring. Thank you Nina for activating this kind of sharing…and thank you for posting the lovely picture :-) I wish we had more time to get to know each other f2f as well as other webheads & friends. Maybe in future conventions…one never knows..

1 comment:

  1. Rita, what a wonderful post this is (and it explains where you disappeared to and why I never saw you again after that all-too-brief meeting in the EV! Oh well--something is definitely better than nothing, and I am thrilled to have met you even for ten minutes)! I have just explored the Academic Session wiki, and in particular your part of it (making me wish fervently that I had attended the session), both of which are really interesting and beautifully done. Thank you very much for sharing your experiences at TESOL and this wiki here on the team blog which it has been my pleasure to create. Thank you also for your kind words of praise.

    One more thing: I think that Joan Kang Shin may have worked briefly at the Maryland English Institute (where I work) a number of years ago. Her name sounds very familiar, and of course there is the fact that she is in the University System of Maryland, as we are. Do you have any pictures of her?

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