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Networking and outreach efforts.

The mission of ACEI is to promote and support, in the global community, the optimal education and development of children and to influence the professional growth of educators and the efforts of others who are committed to the needs of children in a changing society." In the past two months, I have had several opportunities to pursue this mission as I introduced ACEI to hundreds of international early childhood educators.

Diane Whitehead, a member of the ACEI Global Guidelines Task Force, and I represented ACEI while attending the seventh World Forum on Early Care and Education in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from May 15 to 18, 2007. The event was sponsored by the World Forum Foundation, which is made up of 18 international organizations, including ACEI.

The purpose of the World Forum is to provide opportunities for international exchange and dialogue among early childhood scholars and policymakers. More than 700 early childhood professionals from 73 countries attended this year's World Forum, the theme of which was "Children Have a Right To Have Rights." A broad range of presentation sessions was offered, from peace building to inclusive education. A small sample of session titles from World Forum sessions follows:

* Language Bridges: Learning Models in Bilingual and Multilingual Settings

* Partnerships and Collaborations in Integrated Early Child Development Services

* Child Development Longitudinal Studies from 10 Countries

* Effective Practices in eLearning and eTeaching

* Including All: Expanding the Influence of Diverse Community Members--Children and Volunteers.

* Standards and Assessments

Diane Whitehead and I presented ACEI's Global Guidelines on May 18, 2007. The session was titled "Setting Standards and Monitoring Quality" and was delivered to a full house of approximately 75 attendees. In addition to our presentation time, Diane and I spent time discussing the guidelines with World Forum attendees. Our goal was to publicize the Global Guidelines initiative and gauge interest in the concept of international guidelines for early childhood programs.

The response to the concept of global guidelines was positive. Many attendees were not aware of the Global Guidelines instrument and were intrigued by the availability of such a set of guidelines. I estimate that Diane and I were able to reach attendees from at least 35 different nations simply through informal conversations and other networking opportunities. We networked with many other professional organizations and international early childhood colleagues who represented different programs or served as government officials. ACEI should continue to have representatives participate in other international conferences, such as the World Forum or the OMEP World Congress, to promote networking and outreach opportunities.

After the World Forum, I traveled to Taiwan, where ACEI has an active Branch. It was a great opportunity to meet the ACEI Taiwan Branch Executive Board members; they traveled to Taipei from different parts of Taiwan to attend a Branch Executive Board meeting. I met Drs. Chu Ying Chien, Ling Fen Chang, and Hsiao Yun Chang, all of whom have regularly attended ACEI's Annual International Conference and Exhibition in the United States. I also met Professor Liu, who is currently the president of Taiwan Branch, and many active local Branch officers. During the meeting, the Taiwan Branch Board strategically planned and set the date for its 2008 ACEI Taiwan Branch conference. It was exciting to see the enthusiasm among the Board members and I wish them the best.

I visited four universities and toured seven kindergarten programs in Taiwan. I gave a presentation at each university and also shared ACEI's Global Guidelines with them. I encouraged them to review and use the Chinese version of the Global Guidelines instrument for their program assessment.

Overall, I have contacted at least 400 early childhood faculty and students in Taiwan. I believe my presence has helped early childhood educators connect with ACEI. I encourage early childhood educators to share their teaching pedagogy and/or research with ACEI members by participating in the Global Fair or Hall of Excellence sessions at ACEI's Annual Conference. Several of them have expressed an interest in attending the next Conference, in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as the World Conference in Moscow, Russia, in June 2008.

In June, I traveled to Thailand and visited four Rajabhat universities. I had a very busy schedule conducting conference presentations in Thailand. My Thai colleagues provided a sincere welcome by building a huge sign to promote my visit and my speech (see photo on page 30-A). Since there is no ACEI Branch in Thailand, during my visit to each university, I introduced the ACEI organization to Thai early childhood faculty, students, and kindergarten teachers. I also introduced them to ACEI's Web site, encouraging them to use the teaching resources posted there. I believe I contacted at least 350 early childhood educators, administrators, and students in Thailand.

Currently, a group of faculty from the Rajabhat Maha Sarakham University is working on translating ACEI's Global Guidelines into the Thai language. Most countries in the Southeastern Asia region do not have established early childhood standards or guidelines that can be used as an instrument to assess the quality of the early childhood programs. Early childhood educators in this region were very pleased to discover the availability of the Global Guidelines and look forward to exchanging ideas and information with us. I believe the Global Guidelines will be a useful tool for outreach and construction of a collaborative partnership between ACEI members and our international early childhood colleagues.

Multicultural learning is an important component of many Asian preschool programs. In Kuala Lumpur, I visited three preschool/kindergarten programs. One of the preschool/kindergarten programs practices the Muslim culture. One of the classrooms is used as the prayer room; learning how to pray is a part of the curriculum. Some other preschool/kindergarten programs stress the Chinese culture. It is exciting to see how multicultural values have been emphasized at the preschool level and in many preschool/kindergarten programs.

I contributed an article, titled "Cultivating Aboriginal Cultures and Educating Aboriginal Children in Taiwan," to the recent 2007 Annual Theme Issue of Childhood Education. This article was a collaborative work between myself and my colleague, Dr. Kuo, Li Tsung Wen, from the National Taitung University in Taiwan. When I was in Taiwan, I made a point to visit the city of Taichung, where I toured three aboriginal kindergarten programs. Multicultural learning is an integral part of the curriculum in Taiwan. Aboriginal children learn to speak and write the common language, which is Mandarin; they also learn their own aboriginal languages. Teachers placed special effort on parent involvement.

In Thailand, I visited three preschool/kindergarten programs and two special education centers. The scarcity of teaching resources in each classroom (compared to those in American classrooms) does not deter teachers from drawing on creative teaching approaches to get children involved in the learning process. I learned so much by watching how teachers teach.

I will continue my efforts to network with ACEI members and early childhood colleagues around the globe. Next year, ACEI is sponsoring the World Conference in Moscow, Russia It will be an opportunity for ACEI members to visit Russia's preschool programs. Your outreach efforts with ACEI members and early childhood colleagues around the globe will make the organization stronger. Let us work together to accomplish our mission.

--Karen Liu, ACEI President

Karen Liu, ACEI President, at Rajabhat Maha Sarakham University in Thailand
COPYRIGHT 2007 Association for Childhood Education International
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Title Annotation:President's Message
Author:Liu, Karen
Publication:Childhood Education
Date:Sep 22, 2007
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