I was so tired last night that I couldn't bring myself to write this trip report before bed. It didn't much matter because I had a tough time turning my mind off and sleeping after a day of incredible conversations, but at least I was laying quietly in a dark room. As an introvert, it's very difficult to turn it all off after a day of constant engaging social interaction.
The day started early - I had to check out of my solo room, check into the room with my wife who was arriving in the afternoon, and catch a bus to the Day 1 of the Varkey Teacher Ambassador Summit at one of the many GEMS schools in Dubai.
There are so many GEMS schools that our bus actually took us to the wrong school. At least we got to see some different parts of Dubai. I enjoyed chatting with Kaz, one of the other Top-10 Finalists from Japan.
It was great to meet up with so many of the other finalists when we first arrived. It was the first time we had all been together in one place. We got our lanyards with our IDs and followed a series of signs upstairs to a room where we had coffee and pastries waiting for us, and we listened to Vikas Pota, CEO of the Varkey Foundation welcome us.
Next we listened to a professor talk to us for a few hours. Then, we broke into groups to create resources for teachers around the world. It was nice to finally get to talk to some of the other finalists, but incredibly frustrating to not have the opportunity yet to year each other's stories.
During one of the breaks, Jolanta, a teacher from Poland, and I decided to go explore and have a look at what classrooms in Dubai look like.
Our time at the school ended with an awesome drum circle where I tried to find a little rhythm.
From there, we hopped on busses which took us back to Atlantis for dinner. On the way down to dinner I found Lori and my mother, who had arrived in the afternoon. It was so wonderful to see them here and to have them with me for the rest of the trip to share this experience with me. Unfortunately I didn't have more than 3 or 4 minutes to talk with them before I had to be at the aquarium, where dinner was being held.
Dinner was amazing - the food, the atmosphere, and the company. I had fantastic conversations with Mareika from Germany, Melissa from Staten Island, and Maarit (one of the other Top-10 finalists) from Finland. Sunny Varkey made a surprise appearance, and I was asked to respond to his message. I shared the appreciation of the group and my own feeling that the time I've gotten to spend with other finalists from all corners of the globe has been one of the great blessings in my life.
At 9:30, I was one of the first to leave the dinner, but I desperately wanted to see Lori and get to bed at a reasonable hour. I knew that the next day would begin bright and early at 7AM.