Written by: Marsha Hachmon, Talpiot College of Education
This is how our journey began…Hannu, our Promentors partner from Finland, offered us the opportunity to participate in a symposium about mentoring in one of the most important annual educational conferences in Europe. It seemed like the perfect way to expose educators from around Europe to the Promentors project and our impact in Israel mentoring of novice teachers. It all seemed foolproof but this journey was challenging before it even began. The Covid virus made it difficult to decide whether to travel to a country with relatively lax pandemic restriction and there were no direct flights from Israel to Armenia which made the traveling both cumbersome, expensive and more than double the time than a direct flight. There were two options for this conference, face to face or online. Hannu from Finland, one of the conveners of ECER, and five Israeli Promentors partners decided to overcome issues and obstacles and travel to Armenia. Many other partners chose the online option. We, the “brave” souls who traveled to Armenia, began our journey and what a journey it was!
The adventures began almost immediately. Our flight from Tel Aviv was delayed for more than two hours, the exact waiting time we had in Athens for our connection. Imagine us running with an airline representative through the whole length of the Athen airport! We entered the plane and all the passengers sat there looking at these panting, sweating latecomers as we entered the plane. The flight attendant quickly gave us some water, the passengers smiled at us and off we went.
We arrived in Yerevan in the middle of the night for the next challenge- traveling to the hotel. We made the mistake of agreeing to travel with a driver who waited in the terminal who said that he was the best option to get to the city. Big mistake! We ended up paying an exorbitant price for a relatively short ride, later learning that taxis in Armenia are very inexpensive. Luckily, that was the end of the negative adventures.
The next day, we woke to a beautiful morning, had breakfast and began our first day at the conference and exploring the city- its sights and excellent food. I had joined Haya, Haled and Heweida from Kaye College and Reuma, the head of the project from Mofet Institute. We learned so much about each other while relaxing during meals and breaks and when we toured the city. They all made me feel welcome and our friendship developed in leaps and bounds.
Wednesday was our day of sharing and presenting the research and insights of Promentors and its impact on the Israeli educational system, focusing on mentoring, both with novice teachers and pre-service students. Hannu chaired the session that introduced the theoretical and practical concepts of educational ecosystems and I was the discussant. Reuma presented. In the next session, Reuma was the discussant and Haya and I presented. It was such a wonderful experience of being able to share what we have developed and implemented and we learned from European educators their insights and experiences, as well.
In addition, we had the opportunity to see the main sights of Yerevan including paying our respects at the Armenian Genocide Memorial. We enjoyed the delicious food of Armenia and enjoyed meeting the friendly people.
It was an experience we won’t forget of friendship building, learning from each other and sharing with others. Next year in Glasgow. Hoping you will join us!