In April, over 250 representatives of 11 Teach For All partners in Latin America and the Caribbean, including nearly 200 alumni, participated in a regional Encuentro (Gathering) in the shadow of the Andes mountains in Portillo, Chile. The event marked the first time alumni from across the the region have come together to explore the potential of their collective leadership to effect change and make progress toward the network’s shared vision of ensuring all children can fulfill their potential.
Throughout the two-day event, alumni pursuing similar career pathways—social enterprise, teacher leadership, public sector, and private sector—convened in groups to discuss their work and share ideas about how to individually and collectively increase their impact. Each group developed and presented an idea for a project that they plan to collaborate on throughout the coming year. The alumni also participated in a workshop on building understanding of and support for their work and the shared experience and momentum of others throughout the region.
While the focus of many of the weekend’s activities was on alumni learning from and with each other, the Encuentro offered opportunities for experts and policymakers from across the region to share their insights as well. Journalist Luciana Vazquez, of the Argentine publication La Nacion, moderated a panel entitled “Challenges and Opportunities in Education in Latin America,” featuring Emiliana Vegas, Chief of the Education Division at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); Luis Enrique Garcia, CEO of EducAmericas, former Deputy Minister of Education in Colombia, and co-founder of Enseña por Colombia; Rossana Castrellon, former Vice Minister of Education of Panama; and Tomás Recart, CEO of Enseña Chile. While not in attendance, international thought leaders Andreas Schleicher, Director of the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills; Thomas Friedman, New York Times journalist; and José Alberto “Pepe” Mujica, former President of Uruguay, shared their perspectives and advice with the alumni via video.
Attendees of the Encuentro left Portillo feeling inspired, unified, and committed to continuing to work collectively to take on the challenges to equity and opportunity in their region. The alumni were so energized by the event that they’ve already begun planning next year’s gathering in Peru.