The TESOL President’s Blog
Last week on 27 January, TESOL held an international symposium in Cairo, Egypt, organized in partnership with Egypt’s TESOL affiliate, NileTESOL, and The American University in Cairo. For me and for TESOL this was a very unique experience—it was a series of “firsts.” This was the first TESOL international symposium ever to be held in Cairo, and it was the first symposium outside the United States to be opened by an incumbent president (I am Egyptian) who is a national of the country where the symposium was held. I have to say, the opening of the symposium was a very emotional experience for me. There were many things I wanted to say, but I was not able express all of them.
I wanted to convey to the audience how my involvement with TESOL, since joining this amazing association back in 1990, has been one of the most rewarding professional and personal experiences in my life. I wanted to emphasize and tell them what a remarkable organization TESOL is and how it is truly international as well as democratic. I wanted to explain that although approximately 70% of TESOL’s members are based in the United States, I have the singular honor of being one of five non-American TESOL presidents, one of only two TESOL presidents who is not a native speaker of English, and the first elected TESOL president from Egypt—part of the Arab world.
I ended the opening of the symposium with a surprise for all the attendees. I announced that all those who registered and paid for the event would receive a 1-year complimentary TESOL Global Membership. The audience gave a great gasp of surprise and clapped enthusiastically in appreciation. It was such a joy to experience their happiness about this.
We had an excellent turnout for the symposium, with a total of 845 participants in attendance. TESOL brought in three international speakers: Deborah Healey and Radmilla Popovich from the United States, and Adrian Holliday from the United Kingdom. We also had two speakers from Egypt: Ola Hafez and Waleed Noureldin. They were a great combination and brought in a wealth of local and international experience in teaching, researching, and teacher training. All in all, the symposium was indeed a memorable experience for me, and I hope for all those who attended.
Attending this symposium was, for me, a joy—and one more reason my experience with TESOL has been so rewarding. What has made your experience with TESOL rewarding?