Months and months ago when we ﬁrst considered going to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Annual Conference and submitted a conference presentation proposal, we never imagined how powerful, how important, how many ripples our team would make in such a short amount of time!
It began with a three hour presentation on the ﬁrst day of the conference. THREE HOURS to share the story of the Darfuri children and our story of a journey to build a preschool. During our three hours we shared five distinctive parts of the Little Ripples story. We began with an overview of Darfur: its history, its people, its children. We shared the journey of how we built community around the preschool and included our own personal stories of involvement. We highlighted past blogs detailing the ﬁrst teacher training and provided a brief overview of our assessment process and the data collected thus far. Additionally, Raul Echeverria of Communikids provided the audience with details about his school’s partnership with Little Ripples and their “Learning to Play, Playing to Learn” initiative.
After our NAEYC presentation, each of the Little Ripples team members attended conference sessions, networking meetings and a variety of other events; all with the purpose of meeting, sharing, and making even more ripples! Gabriel met with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS, our on-the-ground partner in Eastern Chad). Jocelyn met with early childhood legend Joan Lombardi and Melissa attended a CEASE meeting. At Communikids local preschool, I had the pleasure of co-facilitating the development of a Little Ripples Garden curriculum with Expert Teacher Advisors from their school.
This was my ﬁrst visit to our nation’s visit. I not only wanted to attend the conference, but also visit Capital Hill. With the help of a few family members, I met with members of Congress and visited the Department of Education. My conversations with Congressman Tony Cardenas and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez were a highlight of my trip! Sharing the stories of the Darfuri children living in refugee camps and the work we are doing to help improve their situation made for powerful meetings. I was honored to have the time to meet with them and share information on the larger issues surrounding genocide in the Sudan region. I left each meeting feeling that they would reach out to us for advice when faced with Darfur and genocide decisions in Congress.
Making little ripples in our nation’s capitol among thousands of early childhood educators, with members of congress, and the history that so beautiful shines brightly in every direction you look was humbling, inspiring, and life changing for me. I was able to witness ripples being made in each direction I stood. I can hardly wait to continue our journey together with our fellow teachers and country’s leaders as they make their own little ripples.
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