This month, we were so excited to host our fourth regional Journey conference in Chicago, Illinois, a city known for its innovation, culture and of course, deep dish pizza. After hosting Journey in Salt Lake City, Dallas and Orlando, we knew we had to give the Midwest some love. Illinois is home to over 2,000 teachers on the VIPKid platform, with thousands more in surrounding states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri. We loved hearing stories from teachers that traveled to Journey by cars, trains and even planes; their dedication and passion for VIPKid was palpable!
Over 500 attendees from 38 states packed into the Hilton Chicago to hear from VIPKid Founder and CEO Cindy Mi and City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Cindy Mi spoke about the power of VIPKid in teachers’ lives, as well as the positive impact that the teachers can have on their communities. “What unifies us is our mission of inspiring and empowering every child for the future. We hope Journey will help you maximize your VIPKid experience as you become a better teacher and citizen of the world.”
Throughout the day, teachers enjoyed workshops (many of them led by fellow teachers!) on a wide range of topics, including student experience, tips and tricks for veteran teachers, using technology in the classroom and Chinese culture. Between sessions, teachers participated in Chinese calligraphy lessons, hung with ever-popular Dino and visited booths for The Rural Education Project and Lingo Bus. Later, acclaimed Chicago-based comedy troupe The Second City performed and led fun interactive exercises on improvisation.
Perhaps the best part of any Journey is the new connections that are forged between teachers. Our goal is to have every teacher leave Journey with at least one new friend. One highlight of the weekend was learning about three teachers who discovered through teacher-to-teacher feedback that they shared one student and met in person for the first time at Journey. Susan (Minnesota), Hannah (Ohio) and Christina (Illinois) have learned how powerful a small team of teachers can be for one student!
After Journey concluded, teacher Kenneisha L. Williams wrote: “Now that I’ve experienced my first Journey, in my hometown, the city that birthed and raised me…wow! The passion, the energy, the drive to make a positive cultural change! My mind is still racing from such a rejuvenating, soul reaching, fun, compassionate event.”
We hope that every VIPKid teacher has a chance to join us at Journey. Stay tuned for updates on our next location this summer!