Sharing the Joy: Regional Conferences Spread Hope for International Homeschoolers
By Gerald Huebner
Chairman of HSLDA Canada and the Canadian Centre for Home Education
Earlier this year I had the privilege of participating in home education events in eight different cities around the world as part of two trips.
My wife Beverly and I spoke in Russia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) in February and March.
Then in May and June my daughter, Diane Kroeker, accompanied me. We spoke in Italy, Hungary, Ukraine, and Belarus, sharing the joy of home education. These are countries where home education is either very uncommon (Italy and Hungary) or virtually non-existent (Ukraine and Belarus).
Our trips saw us participating in and speaking at seven different conferences in these six countries. It was a truly wonderful journey with results beyond our hopes and expectations. But we should not be surprised, as we know from Ephesians 3:20 that God does awesome things: “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us . . .”
We safely traveled over 50,000 miles and spoke to hundreds of people. Having Bev speak as a veteran home educator and then Diane as a homeschool graduate and homeschooling mom was very, very powerful. We connected with folks and shared the joys and practicalities of home education.
In Russia, we participated in a conference in St. Petersburg with some 125 people attending. We also made plans for the 3rd Global Home Education Conference to be held next May in Russia.
I was part of a TV interview, along with Mike Donnelly from HSLDA USA, Alexey Komov from Russia, and Father Dmitri, a leading Orthodox priest. Father Dimitri is a strong advocate for home education and family values.
In United Arab Emirates, we participated along with the Mendoza family from the Philippines and others in the 1st Middle East Home Education Conference in Dubai. Several Muslim home educators also participated in this excellent event.
In Dubai, I also had a very positive meeting with the Dubai Knowledge and Human Development Agency, which is responsible for home education there. (Public schools in UAE are only for Emirati citizens.) I did a presentation on home education, called “Home Ed Around The World,” and discussed what the research says and home education as a human right. Forty staff members, including several in senior positions, attended the presentation and asked many questions.
In Abu Dhabi, we interacted with home educators and joined a homeschool co-op where we presented a devotional using object lessons from science. The co-op had families from the United States, Canada, India, Brazil, Mexico, Philippines, Pakistan and more.
In Italy, Diane and I both spoke at a European Education Freedom and Homeschool Conference where we met many parents from across Italy. Although home education is legal in Italy the requirements can be very onerous. The conference was a great opportunity for parents to start discussions on forming a national home education organization.
In Hungary, we manned a booth at the World Congress of Families Conference. This was a pro-family, pro-life event with over 1,000 participants. We met with those interested in home education from Hungary as well as many other countries including Serbia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland.
Next we traveled to Ukraine where, together with a Ukrainian veteran homeschool couple, we delivered that country’s first ever homeschool conference. The 30 people who attended showed great interest in home education, especially as a means of conveying their faith to their children. We have already been asked to come back to speak in several cities across Ukraine.
While in Ukraine, we stayed at the Christian Camping International Ukraine Office in Kiev, where we heard about the exciting things the Lord is doing through camping.
The last stop was a marathon of conferences in Belarus. We attended events in Minsk and another city, Gomel, which is not far from Chernobyl in Ukraine.
Though homeschooling is very new in Belarus, the two conferences drew more than 60 participants. We met one family that has been homeschooling for several years.
It was a great time of fellowship and sharing as we discussed Christian parenting and discipling. We were encouraged to hear folks say they wanted to arrange an even bigger homeschooling conference next spring. (So we might have to plan a return trip.)
These were amazing trips and we were so honored to share our homeschool stories. So many families said the information we shared was completely new to them and they wanted to hear more. They had so many questions, and God, through us, provided the answers about how to integrate education into all parts of life (I turned a question about teaching children where meat comes from into a lesson on teaching salvation).
Please pray for the families considering homeschooling and starting homeschool movements around the world, as it’s always hard to be the first ones. Thank you for your support in making this outreach around the world happen.
Learn more by visiting HSLDA Canada’s website.