International awareness, service learning, global engagement and social justice are just some of the topics that captured the attention of the more than 200 participants, exhibitors, and presenters attending the Huether Lasallian Conference November 15 – 17 in Washington, D.C. The 39th annual event featured the theme “Faith in Action: Global Engagement through Lasallian Education” with the goal of helping educators become better advocates for their students and to foster students’ interest in social justice and advocacy.
The conference also serves as an opportunity for Lasallians from all over the Region to interact and share ideas. “It’s gratifying to be with my colleagues and to hear them talk about how they’re enthused and how they’re connected and how they want to intensify what they do—whether it’s something new or whether it’s to intensify what they’re doing already,” said Brother Timothy Coldwell, Visitor of the New Orleans-Santa Fe District.
Inspiring keynote speeches were delivered by Brother Peter Bray, Vice Chancellor for Bethlehem University in Palestine; Dr. Maryann Cusimano Love, IPR Fellow at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.; and General Councilor Brother Jorge Gallardo de Alba. Each speaker related personal stories of struggle that touched the hearts of participants.
Three sets of breakout sessions split between Friday and Saturday offered a variety of topics to give Lasallians greater insight on innovative ways to reach their students, including through efforts like twinning, immersion programs, global partnerships, fair trade, investing and more.
“I can’t tell you how interesting the breakout sessions have been,” said Rebecca Hopkins, Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. “The richness of what we are doing globally and locally as global communities in our own schools is amazing. I think gatherings like this are paramount to us being able to understand and really collaborate more.”
Highlights from the prayer services included participation of local students from San Miguel School and St. John’s College High School. A pre-conference seminar held Thursday afternoon provided educators with tools and strategies to engage students in conversations around peace and conflict and what it means to be a peacebuilder.
This year’s conference was the first held since the creation of the new Region. Brother Florent Gaudreault, who is from the Francophone Canada District and now serves as Assistant to the General Councilor in Washington, D.C., was impressed by the gathering. “I was very amazed to see the number of people and very competent people coming from everywhere in the country and very convinced of the values of Lasallian education,” he said.
The Huether Conference ended with the Distinguished Lasallian Educator Awards Banquet Saturday, November 17 honoring seven outstanding educators. Additionally, the Office of Lasallian Education honored Brother William Mann, FSC, D.Min., president of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, with the Brother John Johnston, FSC Award.
Excitement is already building for next year’s conference which will take place November 21-23, 2013 in New Orleans, LA. Watch the welcome video below.