Cancun, Bilingual Therapies' first Bilingual Symposium, is now history and history that will be remembered for those who attended the conference. I really believe that there was a tremendous excitement and energy at this conference. The presenters were excited about their topics and the participants- bilingual and monolingual- were ready to discuss and share what they were learning and what they've experienced in the past years with the bilingual populations they serve. I spoke to a few clinicians about what they learned during this conference. Most comments were about the networking and recognizing that others have similar difficulties. Some clinicians have more difficulties than they do on the job. I heard discussions over lunch, bathroom breaks, and in the halls. People were there to learn. There were a few usual field trips during the conference, but not as many as I expected to see. Most people came before the conference or stayed after the conference to take advantage of the sites. The end result of the talks is that a listserv will be developed in the future so that we can communicate more effectively with each other. We're not alone and we're beginning to develop the Latino/a comadre/compadre network for bilingual clinicians. Maybe we should start calling each other Comadre/Compadre.
I want to thank John Consalvi and his staff for the vision and hard work that went into this conference. It was well organized and the presenters I'm sure were all appreciative of the accommodations that we all received while in Cancun.
Katherine Schryver, Lisa DeCurtis, and Melissa White (all Bilingual Therapies' employees) lead great discussions on issues affecting bilingual clinicians. They were poised and wonderful discussion leaders.
Lilly Cheng was outstanding. She gave wisdom and laughter with her comments. I've always enjoyed Lilly's talks. She sees the world so differently from most people and when she shares these images of her worldview it expands my world and I'm sure everyone else's.
Liz Pena was energetic and definitely excited about her work and commitment to dynamic assessment. It served as a catalyst for others to question and dialogue about what they do in assessment of bilingual children.
Henriette Langdon is a wonderful presenter who puts herself into the clinician's role and attempts to solve problems by giving case studies to find a solution. She was honored at the opening reception for receiving Fellow of the Association (ASHA). As always she is so humble.
Donna Jackson Maldonado is brilliant. Her work with Spanish speaking infant/toddlers and the development of the Inventario MacArthur has produced a wealth of data that clinicians need to be aware of in their practice. I spoke to her the night before and she had all sorts of problems getting the data on overheads for the presentation but what she presented was first class.
Brian Goldstein is Mr. Energy. I've never known anyone who can get so excited about phonology like Brian. But then his work is producing some exciting results about bilingual children's phonological development. I really like sitting next to him in meetings because his comments make me laugh.
Aquiles Iglegias was his sharp witty self. He lead the forum in the afternoons. He gave the participants questions to think about and discuss. He was successful because you couldn't get the participants to stop sharing. You can always count on him to be the devil's advocate. But I know him and he's gentle as a lamb.
I want to thank a few people from Bilingual Therapies who made my life better while in Cancun. Loretta and Wally, long time friends, kept me busy and talking about the future and my plans for my new job. They knew how stressed I was from my move from New Mexico to Arizona. Jose and Raul for Wining (water when I needed it while dancing) and Dining me (taquitos de pollo on a street corner when I was really hungry). I had forgotten what Mexican American gentlemen are like. You both were too kind. I also want to thank Guy Garcia for presenting a video from his thesis during my presentation; it was the icing on the cake for the participants and me.
Next year the conference is planned for Puerto Vallarta. I was thinking about what could be done to better the conference. Probably have more participants for one. Maybe next year clinicians can get a discount if they bring a monolingual clinician from their school district or clinic; someone who hasn't had a multicultural background in his/her training. Maybe we can also have time for special language training for clinicians who want one week of developing their Spanish proficiency. Maybe we can also have time for developing a mentoring or buddy system so that clinicians can contact someone when there is a problem during the academic year. Maybe we can also get the Hispanic Caucus of ASHA to represent ASHA at the next conference. I wonder if it would be possible to have some presentations in Spanish by Mexican clinicians/researchers. Maybe even have a time of sharing with clinicians from Mexico to learn about practice in that country. Maybe we could have a time to visit special sites where students/children with special needs are served. Would it be possible to have a special clinic so that we could share our knowledge with families with children with disabilities? Ok, I'm getting excited again about going back to Mexico. ¡El proximo! ¡Adelante!