Yesterday I run into this tweet, Gabriel Diaz Maggioli had re-tweeted it. Gabriel is the current IATEFL Vice President, a brilliant Uruguayan ELT professional. And realized how much I miss the IATEFL community.
I haven’t been around much for the past year.
Since the pandemic began, we, human beings, have been facing many limits: “I can’t understand what’s going” “I can’t move around” “I can’t contact other people”; many CAN´T Dos. And not because of us, but because of the context that has become hostile and has put many barriers.
We are re-inventing ourselves, finding new ways of co-living, connecting, co-designing ways of living in harmony with nature (we, human beings, are nature)
I’m not an exception to that. Here I shared some reflections regarding that. https://mercedesviola.wordpress.com/2021/02/08/let-the-pampero-clean/
People with disabilities have been living with those imposed limits (imposed by a hostile context) since … forever. We, society, working environments, schools, we are hostile because we are not accessible to them.
I have a brother and a daughter with disabilities, so I’ve been working a lot (together with many, many other people and organizations worldwide) towards identifying those barriers in order to try to eliminate them.
With the pandemic these barriers have become even bigger, higher, so, I devoted all my volunteering time to working towards “building back better”, it means putting the attention and energy on leaving no one behind.
So, I couldn’t find the time to keep up with all the wonderful things IATEFL and the different SIGs, thanks to all the volunteers have been doing.
As my eldest daughter says “I like long stories” (she’s a writer), so bear with me, I’m getting to my IATEFL volunteering journey.
First, I would like to thank Maria Sara Rodriguez, who, back in 2005 encouraged me to get involved with IATEFL. https://silviarovegno.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/in-memoriam-maria-sara-rodriguez-caldeyro/
In 2006 I became a member of IATEFL and chose the Business English SIG (BESIG).
I live in Uruguay, South America. For an English teacher it was almost impossible to travel to Europe to go to a conference (plane ticket, accommodation, registration, etc), so, since I wanted to deliver a presentation at the 2007 IATEFL BESIG Conference in Berlin, I sent an email asking if it was possible to deliver it online (from Montevideo to Berlin, in 2007!!). The BESIG coordinator at that time (Eric Baber) liked the idea and we discussed how we could do it.
I got in contact with the person from the Technische Fachhochschule who helped me with the platform the university used at that time, and I delivered my talk through Adobe Connect. (I cannot remember the name of the person… I looked through my emails, but couldn’t find it. He was great).
When I think about it, 14 years ago, delivering an online talk to a live audience in Berlin.
I kept on delivering online talks (from Uruguay to somewhere in Europe) and in 2009 Carl Dowse invited me to be one of the members of this amazing idea, the BESIG Online Team (BOT) Its main objectives were:
- to be able to offer online development opportunities to business English teachers/trainers all over the world, offering the possibility to those who could not attend a f2f conference, to participate and be part of it.
- to offer the opportunity to interact with other teachers, to get to know other professionals, to truly be part of a community of practice.
These are just some of the things we did:
- a world blog ( 2010) – to have a space to exchange ideas among colleagues. Andi White was leading this
- an online community (2010) – (NING) where we could create our profile page (so that we could get to know one another). We had discussion groups, forums. I led this.
- On June 2010 we had the first ever BESIG Webinar. (Conny Kreis-Meyer was one of the organizers)
- We launched the BESIG Weekend Workshops (online) – Mike Hogan was in charge of that
- A new website, Carl Dowse was in charge of this.
We wanted to do more to reach more people, to give the possibility to people who could not attend the conference f2f to feel the vibe of the conference and to watch some of the talks.
We decided to broadcast some of the talks of the IATEFL BESIG Annual Conference to an online audience (my presentation from Uruguay was also part of the online programme) and we decided to interview presenters, participants, and delegates.
In 2011 I won the IATEFL BESIG Facilitator Scholarship, thanks to that I was able to attend an IATEFL Conference f2f for the first time!!
No words to describe my excitement. This is a blog post I wrote when I got back from the conference.
In 2011 we organized the first ever IATEFL BESIG Online Conference
We also decided to hold a Satellite event of the IATEFL BESIG Annual Conference here in Montevideo in 2011.
A team of teachers got together, here, to follow the online programme of the Annual conference, I presented from here to the audience here and in Dubrovnik. During the lunch break (it was 10 am here), a Uruguayan speaker gave a talk to the audience here. At the end we had a transatlantic discussion between delegates here and there.
It was amazing, lots of fun! We kept on holding Satellite events here and in other parts of the world for some years.
I attended my first IATEFL BESIG Annual Conference f2f for the first time in 2016 in Munich, it was amazing.
I was a member of the online team ( I was BESIG Website & Online Team coordinator for a couple of years) until June 2020. We ran lesson plan competitions, we designed online courses, we participated in the TESOL Electonic Village many times, among other things.
During those years I cannot describe all the wonderful things we created, we designed and did. Most importantly, all the wonderful people I met from all over the world.
I also joined the IATFL Electronic Committee in 2013, when it was launch. Now, it is called the Digital Committee. Caroline Moore was leading the team, Mike Harrison, Heike Philip, Paul Sweeney and me were the founder members of the team.
We started holding the IATEFL monthly webinars with speakers from all over the world in 2013. I got the chance to meet lots of writers, researchers, speakers, teachers,… amazing!
We also organized an After Hours Online Event at the 2014 IATEFL Annual Conference in Harrogate, to offer the opportunity of people from different parts of the world to join and discuss issues with delegates in Harrogate.
In 2014, we organized the first IATEFL Online Conference. (WebCon)
This was the planning committee: Caroline Moore, Heike Philp, Bethany Cagnol, Marjorie Rosenberg , Nicky Hockly, Louise Atkins, Carol Read and Mercedes Viola
This Web Conference has continued since then.
In 2019, I spoke at the Annual Conference Closing Panel together with Katherine Bilsborough, Evan Frendo and Amol Padwad; moderated by Shaun Wilden.
I know this is a long story, it is a twelve-year story. It is impossible to share all the things I did as a member of these different amazing teams.
The most important aspect is what I received, what I learned, all the wonderful people I met thanks to volunteering for IATEFL.
I can only say THANK-YOU!!!!!
IATEFL, Linking, developing and supporting English Language Teaching professionals worldwide
PS: thanks to IATEFL I met Dana Poklepovic from Argentina. Dana also has a son with a disability. Now, besides being English trainers, Dana and I work together facilitating transformation processes towards a more inclusive society