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VIPKid Meetups: Starting the Year of the Rat in Style

By VIPKid  |  January 31, 2020

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Meet our featured hosts, and find out who won the January Raffle!

In the world of the online classroom, you’d be forgiven for thinking all interaction takes place virtually, in the education equivalent of the matrix, perhaps. But in reality, we have a thriving community of face-to-face interactions that take place between teachers all over the world, all the time. They’re called Meetups!

Since human connection is so important, perhaps even more so when engaging in continuous remote work, Meetups are a unique way for teachers to connect and hang out in person. Teachers are able to self-organize these VIPKid-sponsored events and spend time making friends, sharing tips and generally having a good time. Some Meetups are as simple as getting to know the VIPKid teachers in your neighborhood over a cup of coffee, while others include day-long activities, workshops and sharing sessions. Everything’s game when it comes to Meetups.

Currently, there are about 100 Meetups that take place every month across the US, Canada and other parts of the world. Attendees can even exceed 50 people, so occasionally they’re fewer Meetups and more full-on teacher shindigs! But nothing speaks to the success of a Meetup like the effort the amazing hosts put into these events. The real heroes, we thought it would be a great idea to highlight and feature some of our top Meetup hosts and share their experiences with you. But before we do…

Chinese New Year Meetups and the January Raffle!

During Chinese New Year this year, we saw an incredible number of Meetups taking place, including a whopping 30 on New Year’s day alone! Meetups during this time are always unique since teachers can get a taste of what their students are up to by sharing traditional Chinese meals together, making lanterns, or other Chinese New Year style activities (making dumplings maybe?). But what made January’s Meetups extra special this year was the raffle we held throughout the month for attendees and hosts. We had 30 Year of the Rat Dinos up for grabs and guess what, today we’re announcing our winners!

So, without further ado, here are our lucky winners (attendees and hosts) of the January VIPKid Meetup Raffle:

Sharon ZYZ, Stephanie QQ, Cynthia UZ, Donna CR, Melissa RW, April CC, David RVM, Chong D, Karen XLG, Jessica WRI, Liza MD, Stephanie BPR, Elizabeth MJ, Susan DNI, Dianne H, Jane CF, Hilary BH, Megan BX, Kathleen E, Stevi C, Debra BAA, Amanda BTT, Victoria WNS, Willow A, Rochelle B, Jami IW, Kristen HZ, Amanda RHD

Congratulations to our winners and thank you for attending and/or hosting a Meetup this month! You’ll get an email next week with an update and shipping confirmation!!

(Melissa Miller hosted a Chinese New Year workshop in LaGrange, GA with over 80 teachers! What a way to celebrate!)

Featured Meetups Hosts

Now that everyone’s feeling sufficiently jealous of our Dino winners (don’t be, we give out Dinos like it’s nobody’s business – keep your eyes peeled), let’s turn our attention back to the amazing hosts who make it all possible. Actually, every host is a superstar, since scheduling, organizing and facilitating a Meetup is no walk in the park, but we felt these three hosts went above and beyond with their Meetups, so we asked them to share their tips, experiences and moments with us:

Heather Bentley

From: Kansas City, MO
With VIPKid: 3 years
Meetups hosted: 10

What would you recommend to anyone that wants to host a meetup?
Go for it! In-person connections are so important and hosting a meetup is so rewarding to see those connections being fostered. If you’re not sure where to start, start simple with a coffee shop outing or lunch. Just take that initiative and get started!

What was your favorite part of your most recent Meetup?
When checking in the attendees, I went around to each person and was able to talk and connect with almost every teacher in attendance as I scanned their QR code. It was so nice to have that time as it is hard to connect with every teacher at the larger meetups.

(A photo from Heather’s Chinese New Year’s Meetup 2020)

Lauren Snider

From: Pittsburgh, PA
With VIPKid: 2 years
Meetups hosted: 10+

Any tips for people wanting to attend their first meetup but haven’t yet?
Just go for it! One thing that I think many of us (VIPKid teachers) have in common is that we might not be so comfortable moving out of our comfort zone. That might be why you chose this job. Know that many of the people that you will meet at the meetup, feel the same way! If you go, you are likely to come home with at least one new VIPKid Bestie!

Any meetups you’re particularly proud of? Can you share what happened and why?
I am most proud of my “VIPKid Rocks” week meetups from last May. I was able to get 5 other VIPKid teachers from across the US to host meetups in their area. I created and sent each host a shirt and at each meetup, teachers and their families painted rocks. The teachers made some amazing rocks with Dino and VIPKid on them and their children had a blast painting too. It was perfect for everyone.

(A photo from Lauren’s Chinese New Year’s Meetup 2020)

Susana McLellen

From: Jacksonville, FL
With VIPKid: 3.5 years
Meetups hosted: 19

Any silly stories about Meetups? If you want to have a good laugh, host a Chinese cooking class where you learn to make dumplings! My students love seeing those pictures.

Any meetups you’re proud of? I’m really proud of a Mid-Autumn Festival meetup I hosted. We went to see a performance by students from Changsha Normal University and then had an opportunity to speak with them and their professors. It was a wonderful, authentic cultural exchange.

(A photo from Susana’s Chinese New Year’s Meetup 2020)

A big thank you to our featured hosts, keep up the great work!

Right now we know you’re just craving to be part of the fun. Well, if you want to learn more about Meetups, you can find all you need to know here. Ready to actually attend one? Head to our Community Events Page to find a Meetup near you!

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