This is an attempt to summarise our 10 days at the HSS. This is by no means an easy task and I started thinking how some paragraphs could give the readers at least a fair picture of what this group has experienced there at Pitangueiras. I do not aim at being inclusive – remember ‘all knowledge is partial and incomplete’ and this is just my own perspective!
As you know the HSS had as the main theme English as a Global Language, which was, in turn, divided into three main strands.
- Intercultural Competence: Margit has brought us a series of activities to raise teachers and students’ awareness of cultural differences, the dangers of stereotyping and of what it means to be interculturally competent. Although each session was important, I found the last one on IC skills particularly relevant because she pointed out the importance of being open to different interpretations of any intercultural experience; of being a keen observer – seeing below the surface – and noticing signs on the other’s behaviour.
- Global Issues and Perspectives: stirring and thought-provoking, Vanessa led us to question our own assumptions about knowledge and Professor Lynn Mario made us think about the power relations between oppressors and victims and also made us identify the 18th century roots of our drive for language standardisation and our low tolerance to diversity.
- Internet English: David showed us how we can guide our students to interpret and produce different text genres using the Internet, he also helped us using concordances and Bee introduced us to the ‘wonderful world of blogging’. I’m hooked!
I just thought that in addition to the official strands, perhaps we could see the HSS experience from a different angle. These are my own strands.
- The academic strand: all the information shared in the presentations, and the ideas exchanged and debated in our group discussions, being them during the formal sessions or in our informal moments together. It was a really intellectually stimulating environment.
- The practical strand: participating in the HSS was a privilege but we would make a very poor use of it if we kept it for ourselves, so now it’s time to plan our projects and make them come true so other ELT professionals can participate and get involved as well. We had Telma talking about ELTeCS; Ana Falcão talking about TAs and Julian on the Online Community.
- The ‘interpersonal’ strand: perhaps the one that really matters after all, because we met as strangers; learnt how to live with our differences and idiosyncrasies and emerged as different human beings and professionals. Perhaps a little bit better.
This is my own reading of the HSS. It’s now subject to your deconstruction – or just comments. Anyway, it was fantastic to be part of it. Thanks a lot to all of you.