Of Building Bridges Past
2014 Building Bridges I: Sydney, Australia
- Dr. Therese Cumming, University of New South Wales
Welcome to Building Bridges IV! We are certainly experiencing unprecedented times, and as special educators, we continue to do what we do best- adapt and make accommodations. So here we are, disappointed about not meeting our colleagues face to face but grateful that we have the technology to build the bridge virtually and share the wealth of expertise that exists in this amazing group of professionals. Since the inaugural Building Bridges in Sydney in 2014, every conference has fostered international relationships and collaboration in special education – building bridges globally and bridging the gap between research and practice.
As the UNSW representative, I feel I speak for all of us when I say that our group very much looks forward to these conferences, as their small sizes make them intimate and give us the opportunity to really engage deeply with the presenters and the education professionals that attend from the host countries, as well as the schools that we visit. The partnerships and friendships that are formed at and maintained by the Building Bridges conferences have proved to be invaluable for many of us.
I encourage all of you to embrace the new format and engage with the various presentations and especially the presenters. I myself look forward to catching up with old friends and making new ones. To our colleagues from the University of Ljubljana, thank you for the work you put into hosting us, and I hope to have the opportunity to visit you and your beautiful country in the near future. To our colleagues at UNLV, I would like to extend special thanks to Kyle, Monica, and the rest of the planning team for getting this off the ground, and then keeping it in the air when it became necessary to change formats. So, in closing I would like to welcome you all and highlight that the spirit of the Building Bridges IV Conference will be one of resilience and international collaboration.
2016 Building Bridges II: Nicosia, Cyprus
- Dr. Elena C. Papanastasiou, University of Nicosia
The Second Building Bridges Conference took place in Cyprus in 2016, and it is with the fondest memories that I look back at it. Building Bridges II was an amazing conference, the impact of which continues to extend way beyond the few days of the conference. On the one hand, researchers had the chance to present their research related to ways of building bridges among researchers and practitioners. On the other hand, schools were able to improve their practices in regard to special education through their interactions with researchers from the USA and Australia who had come to Cyprus for the conference.
I truly hope that the conference in Ljubljana will be as successful as the one in Cyprus, and that both researchers and practitioners will be able to improve Special Education in Slovenia, in the USA, and Australia through these interactions and initiatives.
2018 Building Bridges III: Belize City, Belize
- Dr. Candy Armstrong, Ministry of Education, Belize
The Building Bridges III Conference was held in Belize in May 2018 and co-sponsored by the Belize Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, and Culture and UNLV. The conference was attended by over 200 teachers, administrators, and Ministry personnel from Belize as well as our colleagues from the USA and Australia. From this conference, international relationships were built that continue to this day. Several of our colleagues from the USA have continued to work with the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, and Culture as we work to train special educators here in Belize to work with children with autism, emotional behavior disorders, and intellectual disabilities. Several of the researchers who presented their studies at BBIII are currently conducting research jointly with the Ministry here in Belize. It is through events like the Building Bridges Conferences that current research is shared and international partnerships formed. The Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, and Culture wish you a great virtual conference!!!