Wow! I felt like a fish out of water. A country boy like me in the big city partying like an uptown, upscale pretty boy is far fetched, but it actually happened.
Microsoft's Global Forum was an experience that I will not soon forget. We were treated as royalty, respected and wined and dined for four days. We learned a lot, laughed a lot, and complained a lot about not having many breaks!
I learned many different things during my time in Washington DC. First, I concluded that teachers in the United States are not respected. This is poor for two reasons: 1) we will flourish and do an even better job when respected, and 2) we should be respected for choosing to serve the public good. I also learned that there are many people doing good in education, but there are also forces for evil that are being promoted. Yup, I am talking about our guest speakers. I like several, but several of them were wrong on many points. I will not go into that. Thirdly, I learned that there are fantastic educators all over the world that share our fervor for improving education.
Laughing played a vital role at PILGF. We made some great friendships that will last for a lifetime, friendships that are shaped in a love for children, education, and other people. We talked about our students, our administrators, and those we love, and forged bonds not to be broken. We also stayed up late, got up early, and didn't rest much.
The presentations/competition aspect of the Forum was a disappointment for me. Yes, I went to win (and didn't), but mainly I just wasn't prepared for the Global crowd. I was US ready, but that didn't get it done. I learned a few things: first, Alaska Fishing isn't as appealing to the world as the US. Secondly, I needed a little bit more flash, something like video games, videos, hands on activities, etc to draw folks toward you and interest them. I didn't have that flash because we couldn't use copyrighted materials. Next time, I will go prepared. The station next to me set the stage for realizing that you need flash. They had a video game for people to play, and there was a constant crowd at their station, often times overflowing in front of me.
Ah, the food and drink were fantastic. Thanks Microsoft! It allowed us to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride comfortably.
The other aspect of the forum was the Learning Excursions. I enjoyed our group, with me from the US, and women from Latvia, Ireland, Ecuador, and Lebanon. Truly a diverse group. We came up with a good idea and plan for the project; hopefully is gets some traction and we do a great job implementing it.
Overall, it was a great experience!