In October 2016, 400 members of Teach For All’s global community from more than 40 countries came together in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria to explore the concept of reimagining education—what does it mean? why must we do it? is doing so even possible?—and push each other's thinking about the kind of education all students, particularly those in under-resourced and marginalized communities, will need to navigate and lead our rapidly changing world. For three days, thought-leaders in education, technology, policy and many other fields shared their perspectives on why and how most countries in the world need to redesign the systems and rethink the pedagogies that define their children’s educations.
But throughout the event, it was the voices of those children themselves—students from a few miles away in Bulgaria and others who’d traveled to be with us from countries around the world—that rang loudest and clearest. Enlightening us with their perspectives, vision, and wisdom, and reminding us that there are many others worth listening to whose voices are not so loud, they proved themselves to be the true experts in the room.
“If we reimagine education, I think it will enable every student to articulate a realizable vision for themselves,” explained Shashi, a student leader from Malaysia. “Thus it will achieve the true purpose of education—to realize the hidden talents and the potential that lies within everybody.”
"For many years, my teachers have been telling me that it's up to me,” Vasko, one of the Bulgarian students shared. “Somehow I didn't get it until very recently. Suddenly, I realized that I am your future. So, it's really up to me. I can define what this future will be and work to make it happen."
Evgenia Peeva-Kirova, Teach For Bulgaria’s CEO, articulated what everyone in attendance was thinking and feeling by day three. “Having seen the incredible examples of student leaders from all across our network,” she reflected, “I know that our work is contributing not only to a reimagined education, but also to a reimagined world.”