Monday, March 27, 2017

International TESOL - Seattle

I was fortunate enough to attend the International TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) in Seattle, Washington last week. It was a massive conference - several thousand participants at least. I was honored to present on refugee issues with Samson and Bryce. We did a panel session that was well attended. Unfortunately, the other folks who were to join us on the panel couldn't make it.

I included this picture of a State Department meet and greet to offer an idea how big this conference was. There were a few hundred folks at this function alone!

Samson and Bryce ready to present

There were hundreds of presentations, and dozens during our time slot. Those who attended were engaged and we had a good time. Bryce was very gracious and I appreciated his vast experience with and dedication to refugees. Samson also did a great job and I was beginning to think that he knew half the people at the conference.....

One of the highlights of the week was meeting Jocelyn, Grant, Joanne, and Al for dinner the first night in town. We got together at a nice Mexican restaurant near our hotel and spent a few hours catching up. Good people!

It was a very interesting conference, and also my first time to bop around downtown Seattle. I liked it much better than I thought I would. I found a very nice little hotel lobby (actually it was Grant and Jocelyn's hotel, the Hotel Vintage) with a great fireplace and marble mantle. I spent several hours there just reading and decompressing. I am not very good at decompressing, so I appreciated the rare respite it offered me. One day, while wearing the jacket you see here, I noticed a younger man staring at me. He finally came over and asked if it was a UCO jacket. It turned out that he was a fellow alum - go Bronchos!

I had a lot of good food with good company during the week, but the biggest surprise was the English pub Jocelyn and Grant picked out. I ended up going back later in the week! I had Yorkshire pudding the first night and chicken pot pie the second. Oh, and I had the best dessert I can ever remember eating - bread pudding :)

This is me coveting Grant's chicken pot pie - I went back for it a few days later :)


Ok, so this isn't the bread pudding, it is Jocelyn's brownie. The bread pudding didn't last long enough for a pic

I also got to reconnect with an old (she's not old, I am) Peace Corps pal, Jeanne. She came downtown to meet me for lunch and took me to Pike's Market. It was good to see her and we caught up a bit. I had gone there a few years ago to paint her house, and I may return next year to help her with her laundry room :)

Views from the restaurant

It was a productive week - I got a new Brooks Brothers shirt, a new IPhone and mini I-Pad, Aristotle's Poetics and Rhetoric, and I got away from work for a bit. 

I appreciated walking past the Plymouth Church of Christ each day on my way to the Convention Center

I enjoyed the intellectual stimulation and networking the conference provided. I also came away energized as I was in the company of scores of good people doing good work all over the world! It saddens me to think that people here in my country think cutting these programs and building a bigger war machine is the answer to our problems.  People who teach English teach so much more - they model democratic ideals, support girls' and women's empowerment, teach young people how have elections and how to discuss ideas civilly, and they give America a warm, friendly face. I interacted with hundreds of folks from other countries (visiting for the conference) who had nothing but positive American influences around them. I don't think I need to say much more.

I would like to go back to Seattle to kick around downtown a bit more, to sit at the Hotel Vintage, and visit that pub again. It was the closest approximation to a feeling of peace that I have had a long, long time.