Saturday, 18 January 2020

Solo Adventures

My Harvard Team
I attended Harvard’s The Art of School Leadership course that fuelled my passion for teaching, education and coaching. I blogged throughout my travels that included ISTE in Philadelphia, visits to schools and universities, and a podcast at University of Pennsylvania created with Joe Mazza about professional learning. This experience sparked conversation, connections and convictions about coaching and provided the opportunity to listen and converse with others. I heard how coaching had been hijacked by policy makers and administrators and used for teacher accountability and performance management. This US learning journey was a life-altering experience, both professionally and personally and started me on my doctoral journey.

By applying for the Harvard course, the Wenona Fellowship and planning my 5-week trip, I learnt to how to make a case for my own professional learning, and how to plan, budget and be flexible. What I gained from the process and travelling solo was immeasurable. Every day was an adventure. I made mistakes, took calculated risks and lived in the moment. Walking in the wrong direction for an hour, booking the incorrect date for train trip and even getting lost, created the opportunity to learn. My independence, confidence and self-efficacy soared.

1st ICSEI in Singapore
I attended ICSEI in Singapore and added a few days either side to explore Singapore solo. While I loved my time with colleagues and new friends at the ICSEI conference, I really enjoyed being independent and adventurous. When I travel on my own, I feel a sense of excitement, peppered with little apprehension. However, I see the benefit of pushing myself out of my comfort zone and when I travel on my own, it’s just me. Being responsible for and relying on myself, in this place of independence, I flourish.

Dubai camel riding
I’m currently in Marrakech ready for the ICSEI conference to start in a few days. I broke up the long-haul flight to Morocco with 4 days in Dubai. There, I walked the streets, took the metro, booked tours, met people and kept myself company. With only hotel wifi (unsecured) and Dubai barriers with voice messages, I felt cut-off from my regular routine and missed speaking with my husband and children. When I arrived in Casablanca, I found challenges and this experience has highlighted how accustomed I am to my comforts. The comfort of predictability, being connected and effortless communication.

What I struggled with traveling solo
  • Language barriers
  • Connectivity (voice, data, etc)
  • Knowing the customs and trying to be respectful
  • Identification and denominations of money
  • Bartering for items, taxi fare, etc.
  • Tipping - how much, who?
  • Feeling uncomfortable-  constantly being asked, ‘you’re traveling on your own, or where's your husband?'
  • Being Uneasy - when walking in streets unknown (without GPS)
  • Stressed about time - On some tours, after venturing into unknown territory, you’re expected to be back at meeting point at a particular time. And yes, the tour left people to find their own way home after not arriving at the meeting point on time.
  • At times, I felt invisible and yet other times, I felt many eyes were on me. 

Circumstances did create other challenges but I've learnt to say, "It is what it is". You can't control everything and should never try. I assume being in a less familiar context, compared to my previous travel destinations, heightened my sense of awareness…constantly.

Trista, me & Maria
Days later…
It wasn’t until my friends, Trista and Maria joined me that I realise how taxing it is to be constantly in that heightened state of awareness. Being together, we were collectively responsible. This enabled me to be less guarded, resulting in more energy. And this was just what I needed to really enjoy the ICSEI Marrakech conference.

Thanks ICSEI Marrakech...see you at ICSEI New Zealand
Learning locally and globally,