More than 200 educators from 10 countries gathered for four days, July 12th-15th, for an international educational conference, entitled Networking for Mission II, sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and Emmanuel College. Administrative and teaching personnel, both Sisters and laity, shared expertise and broad experience from their schools, colleges and universities in Belgium, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, Peru, South Africa, United Kingdom and many states in the U.S. Educators at all levels, from pre-school through university, met in assemblies and workshop sessions to strengthen the SND network for Mission in the educational institutions administered, staffed and sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The participants joined in setting future directions for ongoing collaboration through this networking on five continents. The SND Congregational Leadership Team from Rome, Italy, participated in all the sessions at this conference.
On July 12th, Sr. Teresita Weind, SND, congregational leader of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, opened the first session with prayer using a graphic of candles, lighted on the five continents and in the countries where the Sisters serve. She inspired and welcomed participants to the "world-wide web of St. Julie Billart's Mission." Then Emmanuel President Sr. Janet Eisner, SND gave the keynote address, "Educating for Life: The SND Mission Continues into the 21st Century." Sr. Janet highlighted the role of the Emmanuel SND mission in transforming the lives of the students and graduates, explaining the need to be bold and active in this mission as educators today.
Topics in the keynote conferences included the engagement of students of the 21st century by harnessing insights involving the brain function, by ensuring a vision for global values in education, and by celebrating diversity in a multicultural environment in Catholic schools. Vice-President for Academic Affairs Joyce De Leo stimulated the minds of participants with her call to innovative thinking using neurological science for learning processes. Professor Bart McGettrick, Dean of Education at Liverpool Hope University in the United Kingdom, addressed challenges and opportunities for "educating for life" with a vision based on Christian values. Dr. Elizabeth Patterson '67, J.D., associate professor at Georgetown University Law School in Washington, D.C., offered insights from her own experiences as an African-American woman and called participants to find realistic solutions for inclusion of multi-cultures in our schools and universities.
Recognizing that "education liberates, empowers and enables choices," the participants at the Networking for Mission II conference moved forward together in setting corporate priorities for educating for life in the Notre Dame schools, colleges and universities. The conference concluded with the sharing of multiple ideas for building and reinforcing the Notre Dame educational network for mission. Groups from the different teaching levels presented the best ways for connecting and expanding relationships and for sharing resources internationally. Through the effective use of technology, the educators agreed:to make a concerted effort to build this network;
- to plan and implement connections for more interaction between and among students, staffs and schools in person-centered education;
- to organize other conferences or projects for leadership training and Notre Dame spirituality;
- to make the abstract concrete in our teaching by establishing a collaborative baseline in the use of Skype and Notre Dame websites (www.sndden.org, www.notredameonline.org and www.ndvs.org);
As one Emmanuel student summed up his experience and ongoing commitment to education: "Because I have been educated for life, I want to educate for life."
The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur are an international Congregation of women religious, founded by St. Julie Billiart (1751-1816) in Amiens, France, in 1804. With a priority for education at all levels and in a variety of ministries, we serve on five continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America. We staff offices/centers in Rome, Italy, Namur, Belgium, and Ipswich, Mass. The offices maintain a website at www.sndden.org.