February 18, 2005

27. Chicago Trip.

Two of our kids attended the Future Educators of America conference in Chicago last weekend. They won an essay contest for the new Future Teachers of Alaska program.(I was able to chaperone because I'm the only male FTA site coordinator in the district.) I have been to

Chicago before, but I must have forgotten how big that place is... much more of a New York than a Philly. The size impressed me, so you could imagine how the kids must have felt. Placing the whole experience even further over the top, we took a limo between the airport and The Hilton Hotel. (Limo service was cheaper than shuttle service, but still...)

Around 1300 high school students from across the country invaded Chicago for the 11th annual FEA conference. Held at the historic Hilton Downtown, we stayed next to Lake Michigan and walking distance from the Sears Tower. We ate Dinner in the Grand Ballroom the first night; workshops and speakers ensued all weekend. In our small amount of free time, we saw Lake Michigan, visited the top of the Sears Tower, ate at a classic Chicago pizza restaurant and did some shopping. They even figured out that they couldn't figure out why people buy shoes at Footlocker when Payless has the same thing right across the street for half the price.

This is the first year Alaska had representation at the FEA conference. On Saturday afternoon, a boy from our district joined some girls from Nome to deliver a special presentation about Native Alaskan culture and education to all 1300 participants (Nome was the only other group from Alaska at the conference). The presentation ended with a demonstration of Native dance accompanied by a video of Native drummers. After the demonstration, they invited everyone to try it out-

and even come up on stage. The entire conference- 1300 people- was up, dancing and having a great time. For the rest of the weekend, our kids must have felt like movie stars. I like to think that as a result of this trip, someday there will be a thousand more teachers who will be able to tell their students that they were taught how to Eskimo dance by Native Alaskan. I just hope they let their students try it. The image below is a link to a video of the whole ordeal:


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