Just as I’d planned, I attended the second annual TETA conference in June. As Dijana Markovic Hajdarhodzic, acting president of TETA, wrote to me in her invitation letter, this association is the driving force of English teachers in Bosnia-Hercegovina – and indeed it is!
The conference was held in Tuzla, a pretty town in the North-Eastern part of the country. You may have read in the papers that the Tuzla region was very badly damaged by floods in May, and there was a danger that the conference would have to be cancelled. However, the organisers and the participants, mostly primary and secondary school teachers, didn’t budge.
Grenville Yeo, the soul of SOL, who kindly sponsored my trip, wrote to me a few days before the conference, ’The situation in Tuzla and around is still very bad and is likely to be so for years. Many of the teachers will have students of theirs who have no home left. Schools only restarted this week where they could. I think they are showing real determination to hold this conference but in view of the lack of water for so many people in the country and other resource issues I am still a little surprised that the conference remains on. I suppose it is a real statement of determination, but this TETA team have that in abundance anyway!’ (I hope you don’t mind, Grenville, that I quoted you at length without your prior permission.)
I was driving all the way from Hungary via Croatia to Bosnia, and apart from the sandbags I saw on either side of the road, everything seemed to have gone back to normal. And as regards the conference, happy faces all around and high-quality presentations.
I’m always happy to make friends with new colleagues. In Tuzla, I had quite a bit of opportunity to do so. What I cherish even more is to meet old friends. This time I had the pleasure to drive on my way to Bosnia in the company of Rakesh Bhanot, and at the conference dinner I shared a table with Penny Ur, one of the most influential and most well-travelled ELT professionals. Aren’t I lucky?