UCLA Luskin Conference Center Quarterly Newsletter — January 2018

The Conference Center hosts three-week conference for Argentinean educators

The UCLA Luskin Conference Center hosts three-week conference for Argentinean educators

Darlene Lee, a TEP faculty advisor, shared her experiences with Argentinean educators at a session in UCLA’s Luskin Conference Center. Photo by Jeff Share

It’s not every day that 100 delegate educators from Argentina (grades K–16) gather on the campus of a world-renown institute of higher education such as UCLA. But last fall, that’s exactly what happened, and the UCLA Luskin Conference Center (LCC) was pleased to host the group, not once but twice, in two consecutive three-week sessions of 100 delegates each.

The Programa de Becas para Docentes Argentinos en UCLA (Scholarship Program for Argentine Teachers at UCLA) is a three-week conference for visiting education professionals from 23 diverse provinces in Argentina who met with delegates from Los Angeles to learn about and exchange best practices and experiences through a cultural and social justice viewpoint.

“We first held the GSE&IS Argentina Institute’s docente program back in November of 2016 and we quickly realized we would continue to hold this event at the Luskin Conference Center in the future,” says Karla L. Breen, MBA, Assistant Dean of Financial Administration & Chief Financial Officer, UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSE&IS), who planned and co-sponsored the conference.

She continues, “The Argentine Ministry of Education this year received over 5,000 applications to participate in the program. This is in sharp contrast to the 2,000 applications received during the pilot year in 2016. We learned that this was mostly due to the large recruitment efforts that the pilot group of educators put forth as a result of what they learned and experienced during their stay at UCLA. From the pilot year to this year’s program, we made significant improvements and a big one was having the Luskin Conference Center host the entire program. The groups were also split into two separate three-week conferences due to logistics involved with processing visa’s for 200 participants.”

“The program planners really wanted to have this conference at the Luskin Conference Center because of its convenient location on the UCLA campus,” says Hedy Varga, LCC Senior Sales Manager who booked the group. She continues, “And it was a ‘one-stop shop’ for their meeting and guest room needs – the space worked perfectly for them!”

Beginning in September, the first group of 100 teachers, principals and representatives from Argentina arrived and engaged in a variety of professional development sessions, addressed social justice education, inclusion, standards protocol, and the political context of education in Southern California. They also visited and observed at LAUSD campuses including UCLA Community School, UCLA Lab School, and Roosevelt High School, among many others. In October, the second group of 100 educators arrived and began their three-week program.

“It’s not easy to host two consecutive three-week conferences, but the LCC team made everything so easy with their exceptional customer service skills,” says Lora Choi, Professional Learning Program Manger at UCLA GSE&IS, who also helped plan the conference.

Continues co-planner and Assistant Dean Breen, “From a program perspective, managing an event this large with complicated logistics that could change at a moment’s notice is not easy, but the entire Luskin team was there for us every step of the way. In many ways, we became a family that was there for each other.

Wasserman Dean Marcelo Suárez-Orozco congratulates visiting Argentinean teachers on completing Programa de Becas para Docentes Argentinos en UCLA.

Breen continues, “For most of the 200 educators from Argentina that have spent their time at UCLA and the Luskin Conference Center so far, this was their first trip ever away from their local provinces, needless to say first international trip. Our guests came with endless questions and insecurities due to being in a foreign land but the entire Luskin staff helped make them feel comfortable and provided each one of them with their own exceptional personal experience.”

For the Luskin Sales and Catering team, part of the challenge was to find meeting space and guest rooms for two consecutive three-week periods — ultimately six-weeks — on short notice. But they were able to accommodate the group. Varga continues: “We’re up for any challenge. We worked together collaboratively and creatively to find the space for this group to make it work. It helps that they were flexible, too.”

The two, three-week sessions were sponsored by the Argentine Ministry of Education and the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSE&IS) in collaboration with UCLA’s Center X’s Teach Education Program and the support of the Fulbright Commission.

Funded by a $750,000 grant from the Argentine Ministry of Education and Fulbright, the original pilot program started to take shape when UCLA Chancellor Gene Block traveled to Argentina with Noah Mamet, the U.S. ambassador to Argentina and a Bruin alumnus, and Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, the Wasserman Dean of UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.

Watch highlights of the 2017 program and read more about it here.

Read about pilot program here.