Rodrigo Cifuentes, Mila Alvarez, Thomas Baker, Evelyn Labrca (in front) Ana Lorca (with Edutopia bag)
Edcamp Chile 2013 took place yesterday, and it was absolutely amazing. No, I’m wrong.
It wasn’t amazing.
It was… It was….amaZEN…
That is to say, amazing, with a Zen flavor to the word as you pronounce it, like this….Ammmmmmaaaaaaaazzzzzzeeeennn…
First, here are the ama-zen Zen principles I’m referring to:
• Whenever it starts is the right time.
• Whenever it is over, it is over.
• The people who come are the right people.
• Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened.
• If you are not learning or contributing, it is your responsibility to find someplace where you are.
It started at 8:00AM, with the arrival of the Edcamp teams in Santiago, Calbuco, and Coyhaique. From that moment forward, a marvelous day of miracles and magic unfolded. Miracle? Yes, an Edcamp for me is a miracle of imagination and human ingenuity, the creative and innovative manifestation of what is possible if we refuse to accept that what we are doing is….impossible.
“It can’t be done”, we are often told by those who have a logical, pragmatic approach to life. The pragmatists say things like: “You’ve got no money, no team, no venue, no coffee, no keynote speakers, no presenters, no program, no food, no presents, no business plan.”
Obviously, we react to that. We cringe. Our knees get weak. We feel foolish. We look for a place to hide, but of course, there is none. We try to make ourselves be invisible, disappear even, but of course, it doesn’t happen. The pragmitists smile and continue their lesson on impossibility, to make it clear to us how misguided we are.
The pragmatists say: “Your budget is $0.00, nothing, and you have no plan to increase that budget. You are not going to charge the participants any money to attend. It’s free, so you have no revenue from the people who are coming. Furthermore, you don’t let any publishers have stands and there are no commercial activities. So you have no money to begin with, and no money to end with.”
They decide you have understood the concept of impossibility as it relates to finances, and conclude, smugly:
“Therefore, what you are talking about doing, a conference, which is not a conference, it’s an unconference, or “Edcamp”, as you call it, it is an absolute impossibility.”
We hope they are finished and we can go hide now, but the pragmatists, the voice of reason, hasn’t quite finished with us would-be edcamp organizers yet. Not yet. They can’t resist the temptation, to rub it in, to make it hurt:
The pragmatists end their speech by saying: “Nothing from nothing leaves nothing, and you gotta have something, or all you can do is nothing.“.
Having fully understood the lesson on impossibility, the idealist and optimist in our hearts, and souls, and minds, defiantly whispers to us softly, gently and persuasively: “We can do it”.
Yes we can, and yes we did. For example, here is Noemi Zapata, a member of the Edcamp Chile Social Media Team, who found the time to support Edcamp Chile, not only through social media, but took the time from her schedule to make a Welcome Message for everyone who participated in Edcamp Chile. Thank you so much Noemi. You were, are, and continue to be, absolutely Amazing:
Edcamp Chile 2013 was another amazing event, only this time bigger and better than the last time. Out of Edcamp Santiago we grew into Edcamp Chile, made up of Edcamp Coyhaique and Edcamp Calbuco. Out of one we have become many. E unum pluribus. From one to many…
Edcamp is alive and well in Chile.
For the first time ever, you did not have to travel to Santiago to attend the exact same event of high-quality professional development, for teachers, by teachers, where the participants were active, participative, and collaborative.
We shared our knowledge and experience with one another on a local, national and international level.
Everyone who participated: our sponsors, our supporters, our colleagues in Edcamp Orlando, in Edcamp Columbus, in Edcamp Oregon, in Edcamp Santiago, Edcamp Calbuco, Edcamp Coyhaique, all of us can feel proud of what we did at our Edcamps, individually and collectively.
Edcamp Chile 2013 started when it started, and finished when it finished when it finished (if it ever finished at all).
Definitely, without a doubt, the right people came. You see, everyone who came, were people who believe in miracles. I’m talking about people who believe that nothing from nothing is something.
What happened at Edcamp Chile 2013 is the only thing that could have happened: people meeting people, networking, learning, sharing, participating, collaborating, enjoying a magically, marvelous, moment with one another. It’s the only thing that could have happened.
The final Zen principle, commonly referred to as “the law of 2 feet” is pretty unique. It pays homage to the fact that sometimes where you are, isn’t the place where you should be. Instead of painfully sitting through another sacrificial, martyr-like experience, you are free to find that space and that place where you are able to satisfy your learning needs.
In the case of Edcamp Santiago, specifically, I saw them, the few, moving, lookinh through windows, peering in through doors that had intentionally been left open, wide and inviting. Sometimes they came in, finding a new home, only to move on again, and repeat the process.
At other times they stayed, having found what they were looking for.
At other times, they stopped in the hallways, began a conversation that was so engaging that time and distance…simply…faded…away…
Me? Strangely enough, me, a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), I had already connected with a musician who uses music to teach math, Tomás Thayer, Director of PICALAB, and a RELO who uses technology to engage students with English. I had found what I was looking for,and I was where I was supposed to be, and what was happening is what was supposed to be happening.
Believe me, if it wasn’t happening, I would have used the law of two feet… Lucky for me, it was happening, and I didn’t….have to…get to my feet…and walk away to another session.
* A RELO is a Regional English Language Officer, and the technology I refer to is called, “Trace Effects“. The great thing about Trace Effects is that it is absolutely, totally, completely…free. I can’t wait to get back to my school and begin to use it with my students…
Wow. Let me summarize the Edcamp Chile 2013 experience. I can do the summary using only one word: It was…. wait a minute. I have to add something. Our team photo, pieced together one by one, each making a contribution in their own special way, at different times and places, yet everyone definitely a part of what we were able to do together.
I have to thank all of those people who believe in miracles. Some of those people were on the Edcamp Chile 2013 Conference Organizing Team(s) for Edcamp Calbuco, Edcamp Coyhaique, and Edcamp Santiago.
We had a tremendously talented team, you can tell just by looking at our photo above. We have a group of people who participated on many diverse teams, both before and during the Edcamp Chile 2013 experience.
For example, I’m talking about teams like these: the Social Media Team, the Connectivity Team, the Sponsorship Team, the Certificate Team, and the Edcamp Program Team.
And then there are the teams that organized themselves spontaneously, seemingly out of nothing: the Registration Team that appeared from my school (SEK International School), the Raffle team that organized the raffle, and the team from Universidad UCINF, guided by the wonderful Rosario Valdivia, who always managed to ensure we had everything we needed from her team at Universidad UCINF.
Not only that, but Rosario shared her vast knowledge about educational leadership with me. It seems we share a results-oriented approach to leadership which is expressed in this way: “Don’t sweat the little things. Take care of the Big Things”. She fluidly moved on to give me her reflections on how Edcamp Chile 2014 can be even better than Edcamp Chile 2013.
This all happened in the space of about five minutes, which seemed to have lasted for an hour, due to the significance of what I learned from Rosario. They say that 5 minutes with a great teacher like Rosario Valdivia is like an hour with a poor or mediocre teacher, and based on what I have just shared with you, I would wholeheartedly agree.
I’m ready to conclude. Here’s my one-word summary of what Edcamp Chile was like: Amazing….
Edcamp Chile 2013 was amazing….A Zen Experience.
Thank you to everyone, to the organizers, the teams, the supporters, the sponsors, to everyone who participated. Thank you for another amazing learning experience. I am indebted to you all, and hope to repay this debt of gratitude with another amazing Edcamp Chile in 2014…
See you at Edcamp Chile 2014!