2018 – 25th Annual Conference, Santorini

4-6th May

Conference Review

This year’s annual conference was held in the glorious surroundings of Santorini. Glorious for many reasons. Not only is the island stunning, but the actual conference setting was spectacular and was the perfect backdrop to two days of thought provoking presentation and debate. The conference brought out the best in the ICC – blending the political, academic and practical to give us all a more complete picture of the challenges for language education when faced with teaching refugees and migrants.

Challenges and solutions?

We were honoured by the presence of Dr Asaf Hajiev, whose intervention about the problems in the Black Sea region, showed how geographical position and wider political and economic considerations impact on the movement of people. Bessie argued passionately for a change in the way we teach. Tuncer told us about the difficulties of inclusion beyond refugee camps.

But for every challenge we were shown possible solutions. Michael Carrier showed a range of low cost technical innovations that are being used across the world to great success. Elizabeth presented a range of support initiatives currently used in the UK that could give some ideas elsewhere. Kostas and Michaelis showed us how at classroom level they were engaging with the students. Myriam showed us how EUROLTA teacher training could be adapted to suit the needs of volunteer teachers.

Tears, Music and Laughter

One of the highlights of the conference was the presentation by Luke and Vicky, whose enactment of their teaching journey with a group of refugee learners and in particular their presentation of the learners’ own voices, moved a number of the audience to tears. But on the up side we had songs in English and Greek, music and dancing and much joy and laughter over dinners, round the hotel pool and on the bus transits from place to place. Perhaps it was this mix of emotions that helped make the conference special.

Farewell Mr Fitz

This was also the occasion where our founder, Tony Fitzpatrick, decided to take a back seat from the ICC. As was only normal for the person who founded the ICC and spent a large part of his working life running it, this was a moment of mixed emotions. Rob Williams led the tributes to him, including messages from those who were not able to attend, and Tony gained a standing ovation.

First impression feedback from the delegates echoed the sense that we had almost turned into a community within three days – we had time to get to know each other. This and the fact that every presentation and intervention linked together and built on what came before contributed greatly to the success of the event.

We now look forward to next year’s conference and to continuing the spirit of the association that Tony Fitzpatrick created.