The 2007 British Council Innovation Awards – 1st March 2007 was an unforgettable day. I really do not want to sound sentimental about it, but it’s really hard not to get a bit carried away when I think of it. It was a memorable evening for a number of reasons and – as this is a very personal blog – I’m just going to give myself a licence to be personal here. To start with, Julian agreed to go up the stage with me to receive the prize and say a couple of words representing the BC. This was extremely important to me because in the previous months of long working hours and uncertainties his support never faltered and once more he was there to help me to face the challenge and the audience.
And what an audience it was! As Julian said, ‘we were surrounded by stars’. Mike Thornton and George Pickering sat at our table; I had very nice chats with Peter Grundy, David Graddol, Carol Read – one of last year’s winners- and a number of key figures from the Hornby Trust and from the British Council offices in the UK. Besides that, I had the pleasure to meet Penny Trigg personally and also Richard Cox, from the British Council Nepal, who was one of the judges. It was also fantastic to meet the other ELTeCS winners, Kamal Kumari Bhandari, from Nepal, and Athar Munir Siddiqui, from Pakistan. Talking to them I just realised that, although our realities are quite different, ELT professionals do have a lot in common, no matter where we come from.
I consider it a great honour to have been able to represent everybody who was involved in this project and I do want to mention their names here: Vanessa Andreotti & Lynn Mario de Menezes, our mentors; Nella de la Fuente, Leticia Zavalleta and Ana Villar, the coordinators of the events in Peru; Gilmara Bezerra, Shaun Dowling and Sara Walker, the coordinators of the event in Brasilia; Mike Thornton & Karen Halley from the BC office in Sao Paulo and everyone who helped in one way or another to make this all happen.
And on the top of that, I was in London!
London and I have a very peculiar relationship; I feel like somehow we understand each other. As Henry James said, ‘if you learn to know your London, you learn a great many things.’ London now is for me, besides many other things, the place where I spent some of the most important days of my professional life.