Archive for April, 2009

Education Without Borders 2009 – Dubai

April 1, 2009 - 11:04 am 3 Comments

I am back from Dubai, albeit briefly for only one day before heading out early tomorrow morning to Rome, Italy. In short, the Education Without Borders conference exceeded all my expectations by light years. Who would have imagined that I would be staying at a five-star hotel (Media Rotana), meeting over 1,000+ delegates from 120 countries, eating at some of the most fancy restaurants in Dubai (including a gala dinner at Atlantis, the underwater hotel), and speaking with eminent guests from the Minister of Education of Colombia and former US Secretary of Education to the former President of India and the first female private space explorer and founder of the Ansari X prize.  To give you a sense of the grandeur of the event, for the cultural performances during the gala dinner, the conference hired Riverdance to perform, along with Dudana Mazmanishvili, Diana Yukawa, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Raageshwari, Susan Cowsill, Jumana: Secret of the Desert, Princesses of Violin, State Dance Ensemble of Armenia, Anna Phoebe, Rhythmscape: Fusion Band of Bickram Ghosh, and Sivamani! Each of these performers could have made the entire evening program by themselves! Last year, they had Placido Domingo sing in the desert in celebration of the conference. In general, the event was just completely over the top and incredibly lavish. Dubai is truly an extraordinary city, still very much under construction. From the indoor ski slope in the Mall of the Emriates to the spices and exotic jewelry sold in the Gold Souk, Dubai is a mixture of modernity and tradition, east and west.

I’ve collected the e-mail addresses of useful leaders in politics, business, philanthropy, technology, and education, which would be useful for Givology, but also the contact information of so many students across the world who expressed interest in helping out. My presentation on Givology was very well-received –the message resonated with the audience, and so many people came up to me afterward feeling very inspired and eager to contribute. For me, the amount of enthusiasm and support we received was the most rewarding experience of the conference. The chance to share our concept and model with hundreds of students from across the world with a similar global vision was unparalelled.

The conference mainly highlighted the work of students – there were a total of 36 paper presenters, chosen out of more than 1,000 submissions. My paper was entitled “Online Marketplace for Education: Leveraging the Internet for Creative Microphilanthropy Solutions“.