Global Classrooms 2014: Regional Conference

I had a big week.  Actually, we had a big week.

Thursday was Global Classrooms conference #2, the Regional Conference (5 schools, 250+ students).  I was in charge of running a committee of about 50 ninth-grade students who were discussing– in English– the topic of Universal Healthcare and the related Millennium Development Goals. Yeah, you can be impressed.

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Those bored looking students in the front row?  They’re mine.

We left Ría del Carmen at 8:30am and took some buses to the nearby town where the conference was being held.  It’s hard to describe what happens during a conference, but I’ll give it try:

First, we take roll call (calling off the name of each country or NGO that is represented by the students) and make the speakers list.

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Then, the kids read the speeches they’ve prepared about the topic.

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After every few speeches, we pause for a moderated caucus or unmoderated caucus – which is time when the students can ask each other questions, make alliances between countries, ask for help, offer help, etc.

The unmoderated caucus is by far the favorite part of the conference, because you can get out of your seat, move around to talk to your friends and ask other countries for money.  Let’s be real, it’s mostly about who has the money (which was Norway and Sweden, at least in our pretend world).

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Finally, my personal favorite, resolutions.  During the unmoderated caucus, the good students are working hard on writing resolutions with other countries (…and the other ones are goofing off with their friends, somewhere in the back of the room. Fourteen year old boys will act like fourteen year old boys, no matter which country you’re in.).  Our committee produced a total of 12 resolutions, mostly thanks to the hard-working delegation of Peru. Voting is fun too, because each country gets to vote “yes”, “no”, or “abstain.”  The first two resolutions passed, but then the kids discovered the power of the veto and decided that it would be really fun to start voting “no”.  So, out of the next ten resolutions?  Just one passed.  And a few countries even decided to vote against the resolutions that they had signed.

Here’s an example of one of the resolutions that didn’t pass but really should have:

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It was a good day-

But even better was Friday, when I got to give everyone awards and candy in class.  Some were serious awards- Most Elegant Delegation (The Maldives), Best Pronunciation (Vietnam), Most Resolutions Signed (Tunisia, with six), Best Teamwork (The Philippines); and some a bit more light-hearted- Poorest Country…with the Best Solutions! (Somalia), and of course, The Best Country (The USA)!

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March 14 is the next- and final- conference, in Santander.  Each school sends a few representatives, and it’s an honor for the students who get to attend.  But in the meantime, I’ll be traversing the French countryside and basquing in San Sebastian (pun intended, I just couldn’t resist!) with The Boyfriend – who arrives in Spain on Thursday!

Life in Spain isn’t all Beaches, Tapas, and Wine (just mostly)

I’m living the dream in Spain.

Have you seen the pictures of Santander?  It’s beautiful here and I love it.

But it’s not all beaches, tapas, and wine here.  There are definitely times when I miss the comforts of home.  Let me give you a glimpse into the less glamourous side of my life:

  1. Rain, rain, and more rain.
  2. Running after the bus.  In the rain.
  3. Missing the bus and waiting 15 minutes for the next bus.  In the rain.
  4. Laundry.  There’s a lot I could write here, but I’ll leave you with these two comments. First, rain (I spent 6 euro at the laundry mat the other week to use a dryer and it was the best 6 euro I spent all month).  And second, when it is actually warm outside, my socks have the tendency to fall off the drying rack, down two stories to the ground, and must be rescued from below (a process that involves hopping a fence that I am waaaay to short to comfortably climb over).
  5. Only being able to use one kitchen appliance at a time without blowing a fuse. Stove or oven, microwave or washing machine, you choose.  No multi-tasking here!
  6. Complete and utter lack of peanut butter (well, not any more, because I brought about 60 oz back with me after Christmas), Mexican food, and breakfast at Wolfgang’s – with my dad!
  7. Did I mention that it rains here? I’ve had 2 and 1/2 umbrella casualties in the past week (2 have bit the dust, ahem, trashcan, and the 3rd one is currently struggling to stay alive).2014-01-28 19.21.20
  8. Basically, I live in a retirement community (about 28% of the population is under the age of 30, compared to Grand Rapids, which is closer to 45% under 30, from my Wikipedia research).  But it’s a really beautiful retirement community!  And the old people are very cute, even if they do walk kind of slow.

One of my friends recently said that Santander is kind of like your family- only you are allowed to complain and if anyone else tries to bash it…watch out!

Next time, I promise just to post pictures of sunny beaches, delicious food, and the beautiful vistas.

But for today…

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