GATE Conference in Budapest

In early October, I attended GATE in Budapest. GATE stands for Global Art Teachers Exchange. Since beginning to teach overseas in 2012, I have been looking for conferences that I could attend that combined my love of teaching art with my love of travel and learning. GATE started a year before Covid hit, so I am lucky to attend its third gathering of arts professionals from around the globe. 

I was encouraged to attend and present at this year’s exchange by Robyn Zellar, who started GATE. She teaches at the American School of London and found me on LinkedIn. I presented on Costuming in Elementary and Middle School. For years, I have been teaching two different costuming projects with my students: Improv Costuming and Cardboard Armor. Both projects immerse students in a variety of skills such as communication, collaboration, learning about the body as sculpture, recognition of space and boundaries, construction and management of tools, the effect and use of color, and creative commitment. Improv costuming is a quick hands-on project that allows for a lot of play with a variety of outcomes (think about the rules of theatre improv involving participation: “Yes, and”), while Cardboard Armor is a project that takes anywhere between 5 and 10 weeks to complete. With Cardboard Armor, there is a lot of planning and preparation that takes place, both from the teacher and the student.

This year GATE hosted 72 art teachers from 27 countries. I was the only educator from China, and almost won for traveling the farthest (came in second place to a Brazilian art teacher). Each day of the exchange, there were different activities to participate in. On the first day, we all met for breakfast and could choose from the following cultural activities: Victor Vasarely Museum, Art Nouveau Treasures of Budapest, a Photo walk along the Danube, and an Urban Street Art tour. In the afternoon, the activities were steeped in history, ranging from the Photography Center to Architecture, Graffiti painting to visiting the Kerepesi Cemetery. On the second and third days, workshops were organized to participate in, like adult art camp. On the first day I took a Mindfulness and Mandalas workshop with Rani Ferriaolo of the American School of Paris and an Assessment workshop from Faith Kumaraswamy of Aarhus International School in Denmark. On the second day, I took a Paper Dress workshop from Lucie Wiedemann of the International School of Augsburg and presented my workshop on Cardboard Armor and Improv Costuming. And the third day of the exchange consisted of two workshops and open studio time. So, on that day, I was able to take a Needle Felting workshop from Maribeth Relano from the host school, American School of Budapest, and Nature’s Ink from Piroska Nagy and Agnes Kemendi, both local Hungarians.

I learned so much in the short four days that I was in Budapest – my travel time was nearly the same amount of time as I was on the ground in Budapest. But, it was so worth it! All of the workshops provided me with new and exciting knowledge to bring back to my students at Dulwich College Beijing. Attending conferences, exchanges, workshops, and doing presentations regularly with teachers in respective fields helps invigorate, stimulate, and extend my teaching and learning. It helps teachers to become better educators, enhance our expertise, excite our students with new and interesting ideas, and stay lifelong learners.