“We are one world”, by Lily Eskelsen García.

As COVID-19 pandemic continues spreading around the world, educators are being called on to teach, reach and comfort their students and guide frantic parents. Stories shared by my EI colleagues fill me with hope. We are all in this together. We will get through this crisis together.

I just got off an international video call with my colleagues at Education International.  I heard reports from leaders in Jamaica, in Sweden, England, South Africa, Poland, the Philippines, Bahrain… each distinct voice of my colleagues, speaking in different accents and languages, all described the same dire situation – schools closed suddenly with no plans; student ability access to access digital classes from home exacerbating inequalities in opportunity; unsure governments blindly guessing at the way forward.

The descriptions of this crisis were eerily similar across the globe.  But so were descriptions of the members these leaders represent.  Globally, educators are being called on to teach, reach and comfort their students and guide frantic parents so that students have meaningful learning experiences in their homes while we all try to contain this deadly virus.  I heard stories of valiant educators donating their own time and money to serve their students from a safe distance.  I heard how education unions large and small were organizing their members to connect them digitally with each other to exchange ideas about serving students with special needs.  They were connecting their members digitally to organize them to contact their politicians and raise their virtual voices in important decisions of government that impacted their professions, their students and their communities.  They were connecting their members digitally to organize in solidarity with other groups to protect the marginalized, the poor and those facing discrimination.

What I heard among all those accents and languages was pride.  Not fear.  It was determination and creativity and passion for education justice.  Watching the faces of my colleagues on my laptop screen inspired me.  Our NEA mission ends by calling on us to prepare our students to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.  That we are diverse is undeniable, and it is beautiful.  That we are interdependent is not always apparent.  But it is now.  This crisis has taught us all that we are all in this together.  That we depend on each other and are strengthened by our solidarity.  My colleagues fill me with hope.  We are all in this together.  We will get through this crisis together.  We are one world.


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Lily Eskelsen García

Lily Eskelsen García is EI Regional Vice President for the North American/Caribbean Region and president of the 3 million-member National Education Association (USA).  She began her career in education as a school lunch lady, and became Utah’s state Teacher of the Year in 1989 after nine years in the classroom. She also worked with homeless children and gifted children and served as a mentor for student teachers. Prior to assuming the top post at NEA, she served two terms each as Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer. Lily is a graduate of the University of Utah, graduating magna cum laude in elementary education and later earning her master’s degree in instructional technology.

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