Last week, I went to Washington DC as a part of the Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC) Fellowship. All fellows, which is over eighty teachers from all over the country spanning all K - 12 grades and content areas, attended the Global Education Symposium. Many of our breakout sessions were spent with the smaller group of people traveling to the same country.
I will be traveling to the Republic of Georgia with eleven other teachers. Other fellows will be traveling to Morocco, India, Philippines, Colombia, and Senegal. Meeting my travel partners was not what I expected. The symposium lasted less than two days and I thought we would spend some organized time getting to know one another. I quickly realized that organized “get-to-know-you” games or activities were unnecessary.
Meeting my travel cohort genuinely felt like seeing someone with whom you grew up or already had several shared experiences. Conversations seemed to move quickly through the typical name, place of living and teaching, the weather-there to the sarcastic teasing of old childhood or college friends. I was surprised how easy it was to feel completely comfortable with these “strangers.”
In some sense, I guess we did have the shared experiences of the rigorous online course last fall and our efforts to promote global education in our communities. This seemed enough to bond us instantly. It reminded me a great deal of many cross-cultural experiences I’ve had. I meet a person from a far off place (i.e. New Zealand or New Jersey, Morocco or Michigan) and in a short time despite the obvious differences or lack of time invested, we hit it off and become friends quickly. After meeting my travel partners, I’m even more excited about my trip to Georgia.
Stephen Blan teaches US History at Fort Worth Country Day in Fort Worth, TX and is a 2015 Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellow.