Fourth Annual PEACE AS A GLOBAL LANGUAGE Conference, Nov. 11-13, 2005, Kyoto, JAPAN

September 2005

Hurricane Impacts SE TESOL

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Katrina Roils Southeast ESL
Intensive Programs, Professional Gatherings Feel Impact

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, political leaders and hundreds of organizations as well as individuals are stepping in to care for the victims in Louisiana and Mississippi. More than $11 million has been donated at the American Red Cross site on

The direct hit on New Orleans caused significant damage at Tulane University and the University of New Orleans. UNO administration is operating from Baton Rouge, and Tulane administration is working from Houston. Students are being accommodated at other universities in the state and throughout the United States. In a letter posted at the University of New Orleans Web site, Chancellor Tim Ryan states, "The spirit that made UNO and New Orleans such great places lives within each of us. That spirit not only has survived, it makes us stronger." Another page on the UNO site gives contact information for the UNO Recovery Fund.

The Intensive English Language Program (IELP) at UNO administers the Web site for Louisiana TESOL, which is temporarily offline since the storm hit. ESL MiniConference contacted Louisiana TESOL Treasurer and Web page Administrator Elizabeth Anderson, of IELP, who reported that intensive English classes are expected to be back in session in January, and that the LaTESOL Web pages will get back to normal once UNO officials are able to retrieve servers, which were knocked out by the storm.

Louisiana TESOL is an affiliate of Southeast Region TESOL, along with Alabama-Mississippi TESOL (AMTESOL), Sunshine State TESOL (SSTESOL), Kentucky TESOL (KYTESOL), North and South Carolina TESOL (Carolina TESOL), Tennessee TESOL (TNTESOL), Arkansas TESOL (ARKTESOL), and Georgia TESOL (GATESOL).

Members of all these affiliates have been looking forward to the upcoming Southeast Regional TESOL Conference, September 22-23, at Myrtle Beach. But, according to recent exchanges on the CARTESOL listserv, the North Carolina contingent faces obstacles in trying to arrive for the event, thanks to a directive from North Carolina Governor Mike Easley, freezing all state spending on "non-essential travel" after Hurricane Katrina incapacitated two major pipelines responsible for supplying 90 percent of the state's gasoline. According to information on the CARTESOL listserv, the moratorium was originally set to expire on September 15th, but might be extended as a more permanent cost-saving measure.

The Southeast Regional TESOL Conference Committee and dozens of volunteers working behind the scenes have put their hearts and minds into organizing and planning this gathering for fellow ESL teachers across more than half a dozen states, including keynotes by Dave Sperling and James Asher, and many other important sessions. Hundreds of ESL professionals have already registered for the conference and made hotel and travel reservations.

This situation brings to mind the days leading up to the 2001 New York State TESOL Conference, scheduled to be held just five weeks following the attacks of September 11th. I worked on the program book and name badges that year, and remember the tough discussions held on the NYSTESOL board and conference committee, and Conference Chair Jee Wha Kim's determination to carry on with the event. As it turned out, that October meeting in Rye, New York, was exactly what the 600 participants needed, as we shared ideas and bolstered each other's spirits in the somber aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks.

I strongly encourage colleagues in the southeast, from Florida to North Carolina and further west, to stick with their original plans for getting together at Myrtle Beach later this month. Some of the topics and issues naturally will shift to accommodate a necessary and important focus on post-Katrina rebuilding. Maybe there could even be a good-will offering at the Southeast Regional TESOL Conference, to support the work of the Louisiana and Mississippi affiliates, raising awareness to the needs of immigrant and international scholar victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The ESL MiniConference salutes the southeast affiliates, and sends our hopes that this year's gathering in Myrtle Beach will be successful and rewarding in ways that the participants otherwise never might have imagined.

Article by Robb Scott

2005 ESL MiniConference Online