Connecting to Puerto Rico through Augmented and Virtual Realities

This is the story about human connections, about caring, about planting seeds of hope, about changing the world.


Chapter 1: Visa Rejections

Denied yet Present at EUROCALL 2017

My UK visa got rejected three times and I could not physically attend EUROCALL2017. I think the world knows about my visa story, but I share the link here again, just in case:

Denied Yet Present at EUROCALL2017: A Memoir


Chapter 2: Helen DeWaard and VC

I got to know Helen DeWaard through Virtually Connecting (VC) through which I could virtually attend the conference.


Chapter 3: Antonio, Alan, and Postcards for Puerto Rico

After the conference, we stayed in touch on Twitter. She mentioned me in a tweet and introduce a a campaign of mailing postcards to Antonio Vantaggiato and his students, devised by Alan Levine, to say unlike Trump about using these hashtags  . You can read more about the details of the campaign here:

El Puente de Puerto Rico: A Bridge of Postcards by Alan Levine


Chapter 4: My Message

I wrote my message and sent it to Antonio and announced it to the world, and encouraged others to join the campaign.


Chapter 5: Connecting to Puerto Rico

Here are the tweets by Antonio and Alan after receiving my message. Antonio’s blogpost made my day:

I got mail from el Puente de Puerto Rico


Chapter 6: Podcast

I’d love to record one live while Alan is in Australia and interview Parisa Mehran, the author of the first postcard to arrive here, which carried the powerful message:

A woman who has to prove her humanity every day.

We want to talk humanity.

And we did and here are the links to the podcasts:

http://blogs.netedu.info/2017/11/15/podcast-puerto-rico-connection/

http://blogs.netedu.info/2017/12/16/prconnection-episode2/


Chapter 7: Elisabeth Fernandes

Elisabeth

Elisabeth is a great friend and I know her through JALT, . I talked to her about the campaign and she suggested that we could introduce it to our Japanese students and make a lesson pan on how to empathize in English.


Chapter 8: How Can I Change the World: Bookmarks for Puerto Rico

We chose bookmarks as an “educational” item on which our students could write encouraging messages in English, and which could then become a keepsake for the Puerto Rican students.

All about me_001

 

Through the use of virtual reality (VR), our students were able to “travel” to Puerto Rico to experience the devastating results of the hurricane. They were also able to explore the campus of the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón through 3D images.

 

Universidad del Sagrado Corazón 360 View


Chapter 9: Reconnecting to Puerto Rico

Here is Antonio present in our classes.

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Chapter 10: We Care About Puerto Rico

 

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We also utilized augmented reality (AR), Blippar, to bring our #care4sagrado message to life.

AR

My English major students also wrote essays about Puerto Rico:

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http://write4change.edublogs.org/2017/12/04/4-we-care-about-puerto-rico-3/

http://write4change.edublogs.org/2017/12/12/4-we-care-about-puerto-rico-3-group-brainstorming/

http://write4change.edublogs.org/2017/12/12/4-we-care-about-puerto-rico-3-group-outlining-collaborative-writing/

 

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Chapter 11: Humanity

Most of the time I have to deal with micro/macroaggressions and reply to questions that they sound like an interrogation, and people even don’t know my name. “Postcards for Puerto Rico” made a bridge and connected me to people who know my name and they don’t ask me questions. They don’t want me to prove my humanity.

Peace

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How to Get More Women to Apply to Speak at a Conference

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I’ll be holding a pre-conference workshop on Augmented and Virtual Realities in ELT this year and the line-up is not gender-balanced (12 presenters and two are women). I decided to apply because I knew that women usually do not present at these edtech workshops. I submitted my proposal, it was accepted, and I’ll be presenting!

I sent a message to EVECalendar (Equal Voices in ELT) on their Facebook page and asked them to help me find ways how to get more women to apply to speak at a conference, especially CALL-related conferences which are mainly male-dominant, as I am in touch with some conference organizers who really want to make their conferences gender balanced. Then, Fiona Mauchline (@fionamau), co-founder of EVECalendar, responded on Twitter, mentioned her colleagues, and we had a chat about this topic:

Here is a summary of the chat.

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Sue Lyon-Jones (@esolcourses_sue)

How about not expecting people to ‘pay to present’? For people who aren’t funded, the cost of attending conferences can be a barrier to participation. Presenting at conferences can add to the cost, both directly and indirectly – particularly for freelancers.

Andy Hockley (@adhockley)

  1. Encourage women directly (when you meet someone doing interesting work, ask them to consider speaking, telling others).
  2. If they are nervous about presenting, give them support, advice. The IATEFL Leadership and Management SIG (LAMSIG) had a webinar with the FairList on this: 
  3. If there are “cultural barriers” to women travelling to conferences (for example), try and make the conferences go to different places. If they can’t come to conferences, can conferences come to them? 
  4. Don’t be afraid to use affirmative action. If you have to choose between two talks to include on the programme, and there isn’t much between them, choose the one given by a woman.

Sophia Mavridi (@SophiaMav)

There ARE indeed fewer women in tech. It’s usually men who put themselves forward, write books, become “names” and plenary speakers. Two reasons in my opinion:

  1. The “male computer geek” stereotype and unconscious bias. It starts at school and continuous indefinitely. The edtech expert has to prove her “geeky” self all the time.
  2. The fear of being a minority in an environment that is notoriously male-dominated is another serious barrier for many female colleagues. You have to become comfortable with it otherwise you just won’t survive.

As a conference organiser, I have to admit it is not always easy to find edtech women speakers. It takes conscious and ongoing effort but that’s the only way to make things happen. we DO need more women in edtech: Plenary speakers, book writers, app developers, and consultants.

And we do need to spread the word and have more discussions like this one and like the super #EVELT tweetchat organised by EVE (@eve_elt) and IATEFL LT SIG (@iatefl_ltsig). You can find some highlights from #EVELT here.

I think it starts from plenary speakers lineups. They’re usually male dominated (few women experts/ book writers etc in edtech and other reasons I mentioned earlier) so you need to make a conscious effort as an organiser.

If women see that plenary lineups are more balanced and there are more and more women who are acknowledged and appreciated as edtech experts, they are more likely to put themselves forward as speakers.

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I’d like to thank Fiona, Sue, Andy, and Sophia for sharing their thoughts. If you are reading this and have an idea to share about how to have female speakers on conference stages, please leave a comment. Thank you.

Peace

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Here are more comments:

Nicola Prentis (@NicolaPrentis)

If they’re the primary childcarer, ask if you can help with childcare for the day. It might only mean designating one person to stand with a baby at the back of the room for the talk. It might mean a creche. Cover the child’s airfare if needed. Realise this can be a barrier.

TESOL MWIS (@TESOLMWIS)

In general, the process of how one to become plenary or featured speaker is opaque. I know people who just seem to get invited because they are well-known, and others petition for years to be invited to speak at conferences. So maybe speakers can share how they got to be speakers?

Efi Tzouri (@efitzouri)

My personal experience has shown that women’s determination is the greatest source of inspiration!


Fiona Mauchline (@fionamau)

Thinking about it, many of the more prominent women in ELT/EdTech are from or in Greece…. you must be doing something right 🙂 Perhaps it’s a sense of community that helps and encourages. ?

Here are the answers to Fiona’s question for Greence-based ELT reseachers:

Julie Moore (@lexicojules)

I’m speaking at a corpus linguistics conf next month, includes some ELT and I’d def say tech-ish … 2 out of 3 plenaries are female and at a rough glance, probably more female than male speakers overall.

Dimitris Primalis (@dprimalis)

We have a good record in Greece! As Tesol Greece chairman, I invited Eva Buyuksimkesyan to present on LT on TG’s very first webinar in 2013. The tradition continues with many excellent women LT speakers, some of whom often present at big international conferences .

Inviting excellent teachers to share their experience with the rest of the community encourages them to present their work. It usually takes one or two presentations and after that they act autonomously.

ChristinaC (@Kryftina)

We do see many women here giving f2f talks & workshops on tech/elt. I think encouragement starts during training and shapes further during practice. 

Community is certainly very strong here and there is great support, both from associations and individuals 🙂

jenjdobson (@jenjdobson)

There’s quite a lot of healthy debate currently about positive discrimination in ELT. I ‘grew up’ as a young adult in a 1980s London culture when this was the norm in my work circles. Am slightly perplexed why people don’t get it. #elttechwomen

Also use #womenintech just got retweeted by @womentechbot created by @sarahmorris926. Maybe outside of ELT they can give us some insights?

 

 

Diversity at JALT and the JALT Code of Conduct

Diversity at JALT and the JALT Code of ConductAdd subheading

After this incident my life changed completely. Now, I actively give talks about the real Iran and the Iranian people behind the news, and blog about the Iranian identity at https://beyondyourstereotypes.wordpress.com/. I am dealing with smiling depression and social anxiety. To heal myself and learn how to respond to micro/macroaggressions, I participate in events/workshops on harassment. I became an active member of JALT GALE SIG. I joined SIETAR Japan. So, I am trying to create something positive out of a horrible experience.

BTW, I added “An Equity Advocate” to the title of my blog, and a couple of emojis to my Twitter account! I also tweet randomly and quite irrelevantly about the unseen Iran!

I just finished writing a report on Gifu JALT event in January 2018 about diversity at JALT and the JALT Code of Conduct, which was developed due to several unpleasant incidents at JALT conferences (including the incident that happened to me –> That was the reason I did not quit JALT and decided to stick around and make little changes, and I am pushing myself to feel belonged to JALT, as inclusion is not the same as involvement).

Gifu JALT

Here are my sketchnotes:

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p.s. Recently, I have realized that there is no “JALT National Conference” but there is a “JALT International Conference”! Well, it is time to dispel stereotypes about JATL, too 😉 I am working on that 🙂

p.p.s. I’ll add the link to the report when it gets published in JALT GALE Newsletter.

The ELT Movements I Support

I’m a conference goer, and I’ve decided to put the logos of the following movements on my poster or in my last slide and introduce them to my audience. I contacted them and they kindly allowed me to do so.

  1. ELTtoo To raise awareness against harassment & bulling in ELT
  2. TEFL Equity Advocates and Academy To speak out for equality in ELT
  3. EVE: Equal Voices in ELT To recognize both gender and NNS/NS parity in ELT conferences and events

Here is my last slide at the Tottori JALT event:

Being an Iranian Woman Today

Yesterday I contacted EVE and asked about PanSIG2018’s plenary speakers’ line-up. I am happy to announce that PanSIG2018 qualified for a purple (the Gender Balance) EVE and was included in the EVE calendar:
JALTPanSIG2018