What do you get when you mix excitement and passion with a few hundred online teachers, many of whom are meeting for the first time? The answer may surprise you, because what we got was more akin to a family reunion than a conference. There was fun. There was love. There was a sprinkling of jokes only teachers get. But most of all, there was enough orange on display to have even the regulars raising an eyebrow or two. That’s right, we may have out-Vegas’d Vegas!
We asked one of our staff members to brave the high-energy conference to find out what teachers thought about Journey, VIPKid, and being part of education’s next big thing …
We found out that VIPKid is as much about helping teachers, as it is about helping students.
Among the hundreds of stories that came out of the conference, more than a few tugged at heartstrings and ended up in a group hug or two.
Teacher Genevieve shared what it’s like having to work from home due to disability. As someone who has fibromyalgia, constant doctor appointments and trips to the clinic are a regular part of Genevieve’s life. For her, the benefit of being able to teach from home, according to her own schedule, holds a very real impact.
“It has made a difference in my kids being able to play sports, being able to pay for school uniforms, and is sometimes literally the thing that puts food on the table. My husband just became a student last year and this was the stop gap that kept us from disaster, it has been an amazing, amazing thing for our family.” – Teacher Genevieve
Since this summer’s Journey Conference took place in Genevieve’s hometown, she was able to attend, share stories, and meet other teachers with the same love for teaching online.
Then there was Teacher Fonya who flew in all the way from Florida. For her, Journey presented an opportunity to meet with a community that has affected her entire family.
“VIPKid has been a saving grace for me and my family. I got out of the military, I’m a disabled vet and so it has saved me and my family, it pays the bills and it helps a lot, I really enjoy it.” – Teacher Fonya
We learned that some VIPKid teachers have even more orange in their veins than we do!
Take Teacher Alena for example. As a passionate VIPKid superfan, Alena stepped things up a notch and customized her license plate to “VIPKID ♡”. We don’t know whether we’re proud or jealous that we didn’t think of that first, but either way her new license plate didn’t go unnoticed for long. After returning to her car at a concert, she found her very first letter of appreciation on the windscreen signed by another “Dino” attending the concert.
We have no doubt that’s the first of many more to come.
“It gives me an in to talk about VIPKid not only as a job but as a lifestyle and connection.” – Teacher Alena
Being part of a passionate online community can also nurture offline connections stronger than we could have imagined.
The feeling of community that transcends distances was palpable. For the 500 teachers in attendance, who spend every day teaching children thousands of miles away, Journey presented a unique opportunity to come together in a community that otherwise exists online.
“Journey means that we all get to come together with a common goal. Nobody understands how much we love these kids like the people here!” – Teacher Misty
As you can probably guess, we’re all-in on the concept of online, remote work. But we also believe that working online, and building true, genuine connections and community are not mutually exclusive either.
Our experience at Journey was testament to the power of some good ol’ shoulder-rubbing, fist-bumping, group-hugging fun. There is something magical about a community of people coming together for the first time, and treating each other like family.
“This is an exciting new chapter in life and I get to do what I love, which is to teach and have fun doing it!” – Teacher Gwendolyn
And finally, we got to remind ourselves what this whole thing is about in the first place. The students. It’s always about the students. Even with everything Vegas had to offer on full display, no distraction was enough to get in the way of the hundreds and hundreds of inspiring stories about our learners.
“It is such a great honor. These parents let us come into their homes and into their lives day after day and become a part of it, and we share our culture with them. It has taught me a love of China, it has taught me a love of other cultures, and I actually feel like I’ve learned more than I’ve taught my kids and I’m grateful for VIPKid.” – Teacher Alena
At the conclusion of an event full of everything we could have hoped for, the only thing really left on all of our minds was, when are we doing this again?