In January Xperitas held our 2019 Global Leaders Conference at the Hyatt Hotel in Minneapolis. This is one of the favorite weekends of the year for Xperitas staff, as we get the chance to spend time with some of our amazing language teachers – some of which we are meeting for the very first time. It was a snowy and cold weekend, but that didn’t deter more than one hundred teachers and leaders from nineteen states, and seven Xperitas partners from Europe and Latin America, arriving to learn the ropes of traveling abroad with students from Xperitas staff and other language teachers like them!
The focus of the conference is on program planning and preparation. Teachers and Leaders meet individually with their Program Manager and international partners to review program details and finalize plans. Both teachers and Xperitas staff benefitted from having one-on-one face time, and the opportunity to discuss their itineraries and activities in detail.
Presenters for the group session this year included Brooke Marchewka, of our Community Partnership Programs. She presented on the ORID Method decision making model, which we have spoken about before. It’s worked wonders for group problem-solving in our Community Partnership Programs, and our language teachers were excited to learn about it so that they could apply the method to facilitate conversation with their traveling students.There were also group informational sessions, led by veteran traveling language teachers Cathy Stresing and Linda Havas, where teachers worked together to problem-solve real issues they have faced from years past. We must say that everyone who participated did a fabulous job brainstorming solutions to common and not-so-common problems that can arise when traveling abroad with students.
Our Keynote Speaker for Saturday’s lunch was Tom Hanson, the Diplomat in Residence at the Alworth Institute for International Affairs at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Tom spent more than twenty-five years as a Foreign Service Officer and is fluent in seven languages.
In his presentation, Tom analyzed the key trends - in technology, in geopolitics and in the global economy - that will shape the world that today's youth will inherit. His message resonated with many of the language teachers who are focused on developing language and intercultural skills in youth, so they are globally competent and prepared to tackle the complex problems the world will face. After the conference, we were thrilled to receive the message about Tom from one of our wonderful teachers in Wisconsin:
“Because of the keynote speaker’s message, I am planning my next AP German unit around transportation challenges and advancements because of globalization. So inspiring!”
There was also time to socialize over food and drinks and get to know other World Language teachers. We have found the networking aspect to be vital to running successful and consistent language immersion programs. Even our most experienced traveling teachers learn something new every year.
“Overall, this was probably the best conference that I have attended. I can not say how much I love this community, how much staff members care and how much interest they invest in you outside of just traveling. Special shout out to our program lead Katharina, to Jenny for her amazing sense of humor and to Amy for making sure everybody was doing well no matter what. I absolutely adore you guys."
- Dino Mujakovic, Central High School, Westosha Wisconsin
The Xperitas Global Leaders Conference invitation is extended to all traveling teachers who meet minimum group size requirements. The benefits of the weekend in the long run are well worth it for them, and for all of us at Xperitas. Not only do our language teachers depart with a better sense of what to be prepared for as a group leader and an educator, but they get to network with other traveling teachers and visit with staff from each of our departments. We are already looking forward to next year’s conference, January 24-26, 2020! If you participate in Xperitas language immersion programs, please ask your program manager about attending. And if you know any language teachers that wants to travel abroad with students, and would benefit from networking, refer them to us. You could even earn a referral reward for yourself.
Until next year, we along with our traveling language teachers will keep working on transforming lives through shared global experience and intercultural learning.