30 September 2022 – The much-anticipated return of the TeachSurfing knowledge-sharing festival took place at the Profund Innovation Startup Villa in Berlin. The festival was supported by EU Erasmus+ and the Freie Universität, allowing an enjoyable opportunity for the TeachSurfing community to gather once again in person. After a break of two years since the last festival in Kreuzberg, there seemed to be no trace of time passing–creating an energy that was a refreshing mix of both celebratory and intimate.
Attended by new and familiar faces, it offered a warm space to connect with others who share the same passion and curiosity for knowledge-sharing, ignite momentum and drive motivation to offer and learn from workshops. It was also a chance for the community to hear more about TeachSurfing’s pioneering ventures, the e-VELP program and RAISE.
To officially open, TeachSurfing CEO and Co-Founder Miganoush Magarian highlighted the challenges in the current education system. Specifically, the gap between modern employment needs for specialised skills and actual learning opportunities; and between technologically-advanced societies and developing countries.
Innovative minds do come up with creative solutions, hence the inspiration behind the festival’s visionary message of “Value through Volunteer Education”. She proceeded to encourage the community that everyone can be a volunteer educator and presented the practical steps to make this a reality.
Joining the TeachSurfing community gives access to 3.500 TeachSurfers and 260 organisations from 137 countries, a remarkable platform for sharing and exchanging knowledge world-wide. For those looking to be accredited as Volunteer educators, she encouraged them to join the TeachSurfing Academy, which offers free materials and learning opportunities built through EU Erasmus+ projects e-VELP and RAISE, in collaboration with Vilnius University and Heidelberg University of Education.
She finished by sharing TeachSurfing’s vision as a social enterprise offering its software solution, goodmatch –a matching platform technology to assist impact-driven organisations, such as Social Impact Lab with their objectives.
Dr. Benjamin Paaßen, deputy head of the Educational Technology Lab at the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence followed with a keynote speech. His informative and thought-provoking talk focused on AI-featured course recommendations.
After inspiring the community with opening talks, everyone was invited to attend the workshops prepared by TeachSurfers across the venue. Attendees were given the opportunity to choose between a wide-range of topics: from ecological footprint, work-life balance, personal development to movement meditation. They easily found their way into the workshop spaces with a sense of excitement for learning something new.
The main stage was equally engaged with a contemplative testimonial talk with 2 Volunteer Educators and a Volunteer Educator Trainer from Leipzig, Nicosia and Bucharest. The format was an exchange of their experiences and reflections on how e-VELP helped them to be where they are now. The conversation was further enriched with their feedback on the program and finally their support for e-VELP and its successor project, RAISE.
Shortly after, the panel discussion on “Is e-learning the right approach to include migrants into local communities? What’s missing?” started. The panellists were Nvord Loryan (One Young World ambassador) from Hungary, Maureen Elavissa (jobs4refugees) based in Berlin and Dr Nicole Flindt (Heidelberg University of Education) based in Heidelberg, moderated by Matthew Buccelli. The vision of the discussion on social inclusion was strongly reflected by the diverse cultural backgrounds of the panellists, which resulted in an insightful discussion on integration in communities.
The festival eased into a networking event where the community reconnected over food and drinks. Sophie Bruhn, Project Manager at TeachSurfing shares, “It was a pleasure to bring different people together, from diverse cultural backgrounds, with their unique perspectives and seeing them connect on a common passion: knowledge-sharing. The festival was a blast and we became hungry for more live events, because this is what TeachSurfing stands for.”