Greetings from snowy Surgut, Russia. Why am I writing this week's post from a city in Western Siberia that I didn't know existed six months ago? To answer that question, we'll have to travel back in time to 2012 when I attended the FEELTA conference in Vladivostok, Russia as the KOTESOL representative. That was where I met Carolyn Westbrook from Southampton Solent University. She and I got along well and kept in touch, meeting again at TESOL Arabia in Dubai several years later. As Program Chair of the 2014 KOTESOL International Conference, I invited her to join us as an invited speaker for the special Friday workshops and the main conference over the weekend.
Then, a couple of months ago, we were chatting on Facebook Messenger at the same time she was working out the details to give a plenary talk here in Surgut. I was telling her how I was looking for another international speaking opportunity and her friend in Surgut was mentioning that they were looking for another speaker from overseas. The next thing you know, Carolyn sent my name and bio info to Ibragim in Surgut and I was part of the program as the second plenary speaker.
It has been a great week here in Surgut and I have done my best to live up to Carolyn's endorsement of me. It's looking like good things are going to develop from my visit here since several new projects and collaborations are being discussed. There's no way I would have imagined this happening a year ago and it wouldn't have happened without utilizing my friend's network and asking her to vouch for me. One thing leads to another and this trip may lead to many more exciting opportunities in Russia and beyond.
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