2013 Summer Conference

The Ninth NAREA Summer Conference

In collaboration with Reggio Children and Nā Liko Mōhala

Dialogues for Quality in Education
Dialogue Across the Pacific: Honoring the Child
as Learner, Collaborator and Citizen

With “The Wonder of Learning – The Hundred Languages of Children” Exhibit

July 11-13, 2013
Honolulu and Kapolei, Hawaii

The NAREA board was so pleased to meet colleagues from North America and around the world at the 2013NAREA Summer Conference! The beautiful campus of Mid-Pacific Institute, a Pre-K through Grade 12 school in Honolulu, provided a lovely backdrop for the conference sessions, where the temperatures were pleasant and the tropical breeze blew throughout the open-air spaces outside the auditorium where the plenary sessions took place. Over the course of the week, there were over 220 participants representing 22 states and 9 countries. NAREA was happy to award over 35 scholarships this year to both local and non-local volunteers involved in conference organization.

In addition to the plenary sessions, participants had several diverse experiences throughout the conference including encounters with “The Wonder of Learning – The Hundred Languages of Children” exhibit, participatory ateliers focused on relationships, a visit to Mid-Pacific Institute Preschool and Elementary School classrooms, and small group discussion sessions.

During the three days of the conference, we fell into a rhythm of listening to presentations by Claudia Giudiciand Emanuela Vercalli for one half of the day, then enjoying the various sessions during the other half. The plenary session presentations included:

  • “The Reggio Emilia Approach to Education and Its Social, Cultural, Political Context”
  • “Aesthetics, Learning, Citizenship and Participation”
  • “Making Learning Visible, Educational Research and the Hundred Languages”

The following thoughtful comments capture the spirit and richness of the presentations by our Reggiocolleagues:

[Claudia’s] speech on the city transformation project from the children’s point of view overwhelmed me to the point of tears. The teachers’ intention and vision, as well as the children’s work impressed me very much. The song, “The Gift the Tree Gives Us,” the paintings and mural, “The Sky Dance,” and the words of a child, “Mirrors bring [the] sky down” impressed me as well. The way the children saw the world . . . is the treasure of this Reggio culture. I’d like to make this kind of culture in my classroom as much as possible.

This was a wonderful experience! The sessions with Claudia and Emanuela were excellent – the translation was smoothly executed and the information was inspirational and challenging.
The lectures . . . really gave us the background info and immersed us into the commitment and philosophy of Reggio Emilia.

The conference was wonderful! Our hosts were warm and inviting and allowed and created a fantastic setting and activities for learning. Our speakers from Reggio were informative and spirited! I wouldn’t change a thing!!

Thank you so much, NAREA, for a beautiful experience. As always, the Italian educators made a profound impact on our team. I admire their insightful yet vulnerable influence. Please continue selecting programs that are deeply rich and inspiring to host conference attendees.

This was my first NAREA conference I have attended. At first I wasn’t sure how much variety of information I would get from two ladies for most of the conference time. These ladies had so much to offer, I wanted them to continue! I also loved the aloha spirit that was incorporated into the conference. I will be collaborating with my teachers on some new visions and am excited to take the next steps in our schools.
Highlighting this conference were the various and diverse cultural observances that were integrated into the experience. The first plenary session opened with a performance by Taiko drummers that was both powerful and moving, and clearly communicated that we were in a place of great cultural richness. Every day opened with a traditional greeting, which included chants and/or blessings in the native language of Hawaii.

On the afternoon of the first day, we traveled to the University of Hawai’i, West O’ahu in Kapolei, where the exhibit was located. Prior to entering the library where the exhibit was housed, conference participants were treated to a traditional chant and a performance by Chinese lion dancers, who after beginning their music and dance outside, were the first to enter the library, followed by our guests from Reggio, Claudia andEmanuela, and the rest of the conference participants. The performance then continued for a few minutes inside of the library. Then there was plenty of time to encounter the exhibit and the experiences of children, educators and families of the Reggio Emilia municipal infant-toddler centers and preschools, which are documented within.

There were two receptions during the conference, hosted by Nā Liko Mōhala and Mid-Pacific Institute, when in addition to good food and drink, we were treated to performances by native musicians and dancers of both contemporary and ancient hula. The cultural aspect of this professional development initiative contributed to the creation of a very meaningful experience.

As is our practice, NAREA presented a free NAREA Summer Conference registration to the first person to register – this year, Fred Acquavita. We were so happy that last year’s winner, Alicia Karpick, could be with us in Honolulu this year! There was also a drawing of NAREA members in attendance for books and various other prizes.

On the afternoon of the second day, participants alternated between visits to Mid-Pacific Preschool and Elementary School classrooms and small group discussions, co-facilitated by NAREA board members and members along with representatives of the local community, in order to provide an interactive opportunity where different points of view can be exchanged and dialogue with the ideas, principles and experiences ofReggio Emilia can be elaborated.

On the final morning of the conference, participatory ateliers focused on relationships took place at three separate locations in Honolulu area: Kawaiikui Beach/Mele Park, Wa’ahila Ridge and Moanalua Gardens. All ateliers were inspired by various cultural concepts: ka ‘ae kai (the border where sand and sea meet, the “agreement between the two); he aka (the shadow of a person, moving and gesturing with its own identity); and kilohana (the embroidered top blanket, bringing together elements of nature). These ateliers gave conference participants the opportunity to interact with the cultural identity and natural environment of Hawai’i that was much appreciated.

Conference attendees reflected on the ateliers:

I enjoyed the conference very much. It was my first NAREA conference. I believe it was well planned. I especially enjoyed the event on Saturday morning visiting the outdoor ateliers. I was with the group that went to the children’s favorite park, which they called Mele park. It was a wonderful experience. I liked that it was a surprise.

Our outdoor experience was enriching. I have never attended a NAREA conference before, so I don’t know if the atelier sessions are the usual practice or not. I found it refreshing to be outdoors, exploring a new place, interacting with colleagues and activating my creative brain. Mahalo for all of the hard work that went into the organization and implementation of this conference. It was maika’i nui loa (excellent)! Aloha!

I really enjoyed the ateliers much more this year. What a great location to be with nature!

I would like to say thank you so much for the wonderful experience I had during the summer conference. The places you chose for the ateliers were marvelous.

I also really enjoyed the atelier experience on the 3rd day. It gave us a real first-hand experience with the approach.
The NAREA board and staff would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to Edna Hussey, Leslie Gleim and the teachers of Mid-Pacific Institute, all the members of the local hospitality committee as well as the atelier and small group facilitators from throughout North America. Without their help, this professional development initiative would not have been possible. In addition, we would like to extend our great appreciation to our presenters, Claudia Giudici and Emanuela Vercalli, along with their translator, Leslie Morrow, for their inspirational and compelling contributions.

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