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My First Uber Ride: An Unexpected #ISTE2016 Pre-Conference

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“Hey, man, do you know who my guy is? William James. He’s the father of philosophy in this country.” 

I am riding shotgun down the highway with a new friend in my first Uber ride. Destination: #ISTE2016. It is my first experience attending ISTE and I am knee deep in conversation stretching from linguistics to binary code to human communication. It is a true connection in a way that I was not expecting.

This is is my first experience attending the ISTE Conference. I had heard many positive things about this conference. Last summer, I remember being a virtual wallflower as I followed the incoming dispatches from the ISTE Convention in Philadelphia. I was determined then to make an effort to connect and bond at an ISTE Convention. In the various tweets and blogs, I saw joy being germinated in the shared learning and meet-ups. I wanted to be a part of it. The scene looked like an oasis for educators to collaborate, grow and learn.

Now, I am at ISTE in Denver and I have not had the opportunity to attend an official session as of yet. My Uber Ride has served as a precursor to the goodness ahead of me at ISTE. There is much to look forward to during the next few days of learning, meeting and greeting.

This morning Uber Ride has left me with much to reflect upon and ponder. Learning brings you to unexpected stops along the way. Enlightenment is discovered within so many reliable pillars from books to record albums to blogs to featured speakers at conferences. I am grateful for the opportunity to have a mini-”Pre-Conference” this morning with an incredibly sincere and insightful individual who provided me with much more than a driving service to a destination.

I was fortunate that Nuur (not his real name) permitted me to be a passenger on his journey towards learning. He shared with me during our journey his passion for linguistics and how that connects to coding and human understanding. We discussed the merits of philosophy and its connection to psychology. Nuur enjoyed my opening response to his passion for linguistics. I shared with him that language is a weird and wonderful thing that connects us. Nuur took our conversation to the beauty of archetypes. It was amazing the ground that two strangers covered based upon a positive nerve we struck on the study of language and linguistics. Even as I reflect back on the scope of conversation, I realize that I merely scraping the surface on the topic we encountered. 

Looking back to measure the depth of my conversation with Nuur, I believe I was truly experiencing the purpose behind Global Education. Nuur, a native of Somalia, took me on a journey of connectedness and insight in realms of a simple yet sincere conversation. Global Education builds those pathways in the schoolhouse to build empathy across all borders. I experienced that in profound way in my little Uber transport with Nuur.

We encounter so many moments which connect us in ways we do not fully appreciate. I am guilty of not always planting my frenetic steps into the ground and tuning into the goodness in front of me. It is essential to capture the beauty that is found in words of those who reach out to us along the journey of learning. We are obligated to return the favor by listening, learning and sharing with others. As an educator and principal, it is truly important for me to model and encourage that to the students, teachers and families of whom I serve. Those conversations can be experienced in so many ways from the parking lot to the cafeteria line to a classroom visit.

I look forward to other Uber Rides and the journeys associated with them. Most importantly, I readily anticipate the moments gathered in both planned and unexpected conversations . Those moments can ignite sparks of inspiration, empathy and goodness.

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Sean Gaillard is the Principal/Lead Learner of John F. Kennedy High School in Winston-Salem, NC. He is the founder of #CelebrateMonday and moderates the #EdBeat Twitter Chat. Sean is an ambassador for Buncee and Kahoot. Conference presenttaions include ISTE 2016, ILA '16 and the Arts Integration and STEAM Online Conference. You can follow him on Twitter at @smgaillard. 

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Guest Friday, 15 February 2019