The WISE meeting was held last week in Doha, the capital of Qatar. I was privileged to be invited to attend and participate in a panel called “Learning from Gamechangers.” We were four panelists: a lady from Ethiopia who founded Whiz Kids Workshop for preschoolers; a man who is a photojournalist for National Geographic and has worked for over 30 years in more than 100 countries, documenting situations in conflicted areas through photography; a clinical psychologist from Kuwait, creator of THE 99, a group of Islamic comic superheroes used to promote tolerance in all its forms; and myself. It was a fascinating experience. I have no idea how they knew about the Cristo Rey Network but it certainly is a tribute to what we have accomplished.
There were 1200 delegates to the conference, from all parts of the world, many dressed in their native garb, especially the ones from Arab countries. All day long, running from conferences to workshops, it seemed that we were constantly rubbing elbows with Ministers of Education and members of different prestigious think-tanks from all over the globe. It was extremely consoling that the conference was held; it is gratifying that some people really are talking about education as a world problem and suggesting ways to improve it. What I found disconcerting was the lack of a religious presence. The day of the panel I wore my roman collar but as far as I know I was the only representative of the Catholic Church at the meeting. What does that mean? We are so proud of what the Church does in education and yet is anyone noticing? Do we have nothing to add to the dialogue? Is Catholic education making a difference? Maybe the world doesn’t think we’re as good as we do.
I invite you to check out some of the summit’s photos: http://www.wise-qatar.org/content/snapshots-best-summit-2011