A Unique Opportunity

    What a privilege to join the WCCI 18th World Conference on Education in the historic city of Rome! Themed “The Role of Education for Global Citizenship in Promoting Social, Economic and Environmental Justice,”was yet again a unique opportunity to co-learn from each other through research dissemination, sharing of best practices, educational issues, and possible solutions, deepening bond among old friends and welcoming new ones, as well as appreciating the uniqueness and diversity of cultures from the different corners of the globe.

    TAs the days unfolded,I was inspired by the messages and personal anecdotes of the plenary speakers, gained new insights from the workshops and studies shared by researchers and practitioners, and made to experience the charm and cultural treasures of Italy. As always, a deep connection was felt with all the WCCI members-another reunion, indeed! Further, I witnessed again the commitment of the WCCI secretariat and trustees in achieving the vision-mission of the organization.

    As a Paulinian educator, I felt the living out of our school’s thrust this year: “Mainstreaming Interculturality: Solidarity Begins where Individuality Ends.” My fellow delegates and I truly bonded with the old and new international friends we made, relished the new learning we acquired, and the beautiful memories we carried with us. I went home nurtured with the Divine love and joy through all the people who made this professional development opportunity possible, plus the allure of the Eternal City of Rome.

Witnessing the Commitment of our Leaders

    I felt the friendly welcome and hospitality of the WCCI trustees and secretariat, plusthe staff of Hotel Villa Maria Regina, Rome, Italy. As part of the conference committee, I had the pleasure of working with multi-awarded and talented educators who were passionate in pursuing inclusive education and making a difference in the communities they lived. They were the movers behind the success of the WCCI organization, always seeking sustainable and just solutions to problems while advocating policy changes for the attainment of our organization’s thrust and goals. This experience brought a renewed vigor and inspiration for my mission as an educator.

    I was enthused by the message of Dr. Mary Oling-Sisay, Dean, California School of Education, and Senior VP for Development & Inclusive Education. She challengedus to become more creative in cultivating a passion to extend support and assistance especially to students who are most in need of our help. Her personal success story of transcending the hardships early on in life and self-taught herself to source funds for her personal and her siblings’ education was truly remarkable. She has spurred the exchange of ideas which are critical in bringing about the dynamic educational transformation needed for creating a more sustainable and just society, leaving no one behind.

    Her inspirational message was aligned with the prayers offered at the beginning of the conference which has to do with “standing in solidarity with all those who suffer in any way, seeking to rekindle our love, revitalize our compassion, and renew our awareness of the unity we share with all beings.”

Promoting the Healing of our World History towards the Culture of Peace

    As an organization that promotes peace, I was greatly disturbed when we went to visit the Flavian Amphitheater (this was the symbol used in the conference program cover for this 18th WCCI world conference).I had visited Rome a decade ago, but the feeling I had this time in this famous vacationers’ destination was agonizingly different. The extreme heat we felt lining up with the massive crowd of tourists, made me reflect about the lives unnecessarily exterminated during the four centuries gladiatorial/slaves combats, and bouts between condemned criminals and prisoners of war. I was confronted with the ugliness of evil, asking “what kind of consciousness they had tolerating such brutal and violent entertainment for centuries?” I remembered Fr. Dominic Gaoini, Ph.D., an Italian priest friend, who told me, that not only gladiators and wild animals were engaged to entertain the people but also Christian converts suspected of being against the government were persecuted and condemned and bestial, forced to fight in the arena against wild animals. As if the voice of lost souls beckoned me to offer a prayer for healing in this part of the world, where many people perished due to the tyranny and abuse of power of the Roman Empire. This city tour, which was part of our conference allowed me to embrace the via positive, via negative, via creative, and via transformativa of learning.

    To end, I would like to mention that everyone’s contribution to the success of the conference is worth remembering. In our formal and informal conversations, and interactions during the city tour there was so much to learn from one another. I have made a mandala art of infinite gratitude as a form of mindful thanksgiving to all who made our Europe trip 2018 a meaningful one. “May your bright shining selves continue to shine through,” the title goes. My deep gratitude and heartfelt appreciation to the hardworking Secretariat, the respected WCCI officers and beloved WCCI members who made the 18th WorldConference a most memorable one!