Read this story in Spanish.
It all started as a small idea amongst many innovations we are constantly thinking of to face the challenge of the pandemic, to be able to ensure that our students' learning does not stop, and to continue generating alliances strong enough to guarantee the sustainability of our organizations amidst the crisis. Enseña por México’s annual event for stakeholders and fundraising wasn’t going to happen as we had imagined it, and this was a reality for all of the Teach For All network partners across Latin America. So we thought, “What would happen if we joined forces and planned something that could take advantage of the virtuality in which we are forced to live?” We decided to see the situation as an opportunity to connect and build a larger educational community of shared challenges and opportunities.
This small idea quickly escalated and we started organizing a massive virtual event with only two months ahead of us. We wanted an event that was inclusive and diverse; that could put the most relevant topics on the table for discussion; that united students and educators with the public and private sectors, as well as organizations and other educational communities; and that would allow learning, discussion, and the collective search for solutions. Fundraising was important but it could not be the center of the event—the fundamental purpose was to demonstrate the power of generating community throughout Latin America. It would be a huge undertaking but we knew it was possible.
Two months of organizing, engaging sponsors, scheduling panelists and guest speakers, and registering thousands of people went by quickly. From October 26 to 29, more than 3,300 people from 15 countries in Latin America participated in Enseña Latinoamérica 2020. These three days of virtual panels and workshops (all in Spanish) focused on gender equality, environmental education, mental health for educators, mindfulness, learning culture, rural education, public policy, corporate social responsibility, media literacy, use of technology, and much more.
The event was a true example of how important it is to be locally rooted and globally informed, and it allowed us to demonstrate to our stakeholders how relevant it is to be part of the Teach For All network of organizations in 59 countries that are learning and working together towards the same goal—developing leadership to ensure ALL children can fulfill their potential. As Paola, a 16-year-old student from Mexico and one of the youth panelists said: "We learned that it is beautiful to have conversations between people from different countries and of different ages. We realized that collaboration is something special and unique. These spaces helped us to think beyond ourselves and question new things, to imagine the world we want to live in and how we can be part of that change."
It has been difficult for development teams and CEOs to keep current allies engaged and continue to cultivate and build new alliances during this challenging year. Demonstrating that investing in education is more important than ever is a complicated job. However, through this event, we realized that the best way to demonstrate the importance of education is to put it at the center and use the opportunity of virtuality to connect with our stakeholders. We invited our allies to listen to students, teachers, families, governments, and local companies and see for themselves how the impact of the network partners in Latin America begins in the classroom and is multiplied throughout the educational sector. We demonstrated that not even a global pandemic has stopped the incredible work we do with schools, and that new methods have been found to reach each student, from the Sierra Madre, through the Amazon, and all the way to Patagonia.
The motto of Enseña Latinoamérica was The future of education is already happening, and this is how we have to see it—education cannot wait, we have to innovate, to think outside the box and adapt to change. The opportunity to generate stronger relationships with educational communities, allies, and donors exists and we have to take it, dare to make them part of our challenges and changes, and reimagine education together.