According to the Flat Classroom Conference Ning we have 64 days to go until the Flat Classroom Conference really begins here in Doha. Excitement is building amongst teachers and students who are trying to get here and take part in this inaugural event. Based on the Flat Classroom Project, and on the concepts found in Tom Friedman's book, The World is Flat, our aim is to flatten the learning experience and provide an opportunity for participants to not only connect virtually but to cement this relationship via a face-to-face gathering where creativity and action are encouraged.
The conference itself is in two strands: Leadership Workshop and Student Summit. These strands will merge and intertwine throughout the 3 days and provide a unique opportunity for teachers, administrators and students to work together and determine what education should or will look like in the future (and the future is now!). We have participants coming from literally all over the globe, including the international presenters. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of HSBC Bank Middle East we have been able to give out scholarships to qualifying classrooms to help pay for expenses while in Doha to attend the event. However, our funds do not provide the money for actually getting to Doha (the airfare!). Therefore across the world participating teachers and students are madly trying to raise funds, promote the event within their communities and foster support so they can afford to travel to Doha. Not only have these dedicated and entrepreneurial educators had to submit requests to higher authorities, convincing them that Doha, Qatar is a safe place and that this is an amazing opportunity for cultural interaction leading to enhanced understanding, but they have also been responsible for helping to raise extra money.
To date we have classes confirmed from Ethiopia, Oman, Pakistan, Australia, USA (Houston, New York, Georgia) and Spain. Each class has their own story to tell about why and how they will make it to Qatar...and they will tell their story before, during and after the conference as part of the ongoing conversations. This is a compelling story, and it will be told.
For now however, I wish to encourage support for the class in Houston from Spring Woods High School. Led by a dynamic teacher, Estie Cuellar, this group of 9 students come from a typical government school that essentially has no money to support international travel and experiences. Estie is working hard to bring the world to her classroom and a part of her classroom to the world via this trip. I encourage you to read the new Qatar Conference blog, created by Estie and the students to record the journey, and also to read more details on the 'sponsorship brochure' created to promote Springwood's participation and desire to foster more funds to make this possible. Maybe you are in a position to help out? Imagine the possibilities of promoting peace and understanding from opposite sides of the globe and interaction that can only help participants from all countries to appreciate diversity in an increasingly complex world.
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