We are aware that the CIES updates are long overdue but as the saying goes — better late than never! CIES is an acronym of Comparative and International Education Society. The Society hosts annual conferences, and every year, IEDP cohorts participate in the conference in various ways. In this series, we will provide different perspectives of and experiences at CIES 2019. 

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View from the flight

Most of the years, CIES hosts its annual conference in March but this year, we had one in April! That meant, personally, I would have to constantly juggle different responsibilities I have while at CIES. We had our policy brief poster due the week after CIES, and as a family center fellow, I organized a museum trip which I had to monitor the registration number constantly and report to my supervisor. I knew it was going to be a lot on my plate, and to be really honest, I was concerned that I won’t be able to really immerse myself into the conference experience. Now looking back at it, I did everything I had hoped to get out of from attending CIES! At the end of the day, I realized it’s all about what kind of goals you set for yourself and how you manage them!

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It was a really cool (yet slightly dimly lit) venue we had this year!

The moment I got off the airplane at the San Francisco Airport, I rushed to the venue to volunteer for the registration desk. It was Sunday, the day before the actual conference began, so not that many people were around though the registration desk was quite busy. It was a great opportunity to get to know about the venue, where to rooms are at and what are the cafés and eateries around before the actual conference began!

Sunday just flew by like that — I volunteered the whole entire day, and the day was over! First thing on Monday morning, a few of other IEDPers and I went to the New Scholar’s Committee breakfast meeting, where we were able to learn about different resources available for those who joined CIES for the first time. Then we all scattered and went our own ways to attend panel sessions and roundtables of our interest.

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One of the sessions I attended on teacher training initiatives around the world

It can get super overwhelming because there are so so many different options that seem all very interesting. For this reason, prior to going to the conference, I went through the program book and created an Excel sheet (my favorite) of the events that seem to align with my interest. I mostly attended sessions on teacher training and literacy programs across the world. Unfortunately, now quite a bit of time has passed since then so I do not remember all the details but it was eye-opening to hear about the actual projects that are going on in different parts of the world.

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This was SUPER helpful!
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And when time permitted, I went around to see the phenomenal works of my fellow IEDPers!

For me, the biggest motivation to come to CIES was getting to meet people from different organizations. Without any previous experience in the development field, I really wanted to get a better sense of different organizations, beyond what I can read about the on their webpages. I spent a significant amount of time roaming around the tables, talking to people from different organizations. I was able to connect with some of the IEDP alums as well that way! I think this definitely was the highlight of my CIES experience in that I was get a better sense of the general atmosphere of these organizations. I exchanged name cards with a few people there, and have followed up and exchanged emails a few times since then! If you are looking for opportunities to network, CIES is the place to be!

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All three in this photo have written for this blog. Whaaaat

Honestly, in between different panel sessions, talks and table roaming, I was mostly on my laptop working remotely. I also wanted to get quite a bit of policy brief research done as well so there really was no down time. After the day at the conference ends at around 6 pm, I went straight back to the hostel that I have reserved with a few other IEDPers and just fell right asleep. I think I had maybe one night that I went out to meet my college friends in San Francisco. So yeah, no sightseeing photos in my post!

But I did get to take advantage of being on the west coast as after the conference ended, I headed down to Palo Alto and spent a few nights there meeting with my high school and college friends! But yes, I did work on my policy brief while at Palo Alto too.

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This is the IEDP table where I pretty much lived… throughout the conference…

A few weeks have passed since then so I do not recollect exact details of the panel sessions and the CIES experience in general feels so far in the past. But if you ask me what was my greatest takeaway from attending CIES, I would say getting to meet people from different organizations and getting a better sense of what are the organizations that might be a better fit for me. That was the type of insights and information I would not have gained without attending one! As I was not presenting a paper or a poster, I really had to think through and decide whether attending the conference would be worthy for me. In the end, I’m really glad I did for that reason!

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Post-conference trip to Palo Alto!

Yes, it does sound quite bleak: Hannah never really did sightseeing, she took a stroll for 30 min and then realized she had to do work so came back to the conference venue at 6:30pm to exchange emails. During lunch and break, if I’m not roaming around the tables, I was sitting by the IEDP table and read bunch of reports. I read a lot for my policy brief on my way to Palo Alto from San Fran! And I think this is a good takeaway for me in and out of itself: circumstances might not perfectly align in the way that you wish it to be. However, it’s up to you to make the most out of what you can, and despite all the works and responsibilities I had to carry out, I think I got what I really wanted out of this conference! Setting priorities really helped!