Why am I going from Moscow to the opposite side of the globe to attend GHEC2016?
My introduction to homeschooling began in 2011, when I first met the key fighter for homeschool rights in Russia - Pavel Parfentiev. He introduced me to the topic and invited me to attend GHEC 2012. I was cautious at first, and started exploring home education by reading tons of books, brought to me from the US by my dear American friends. By the time of GHEC 2012, I had read a dozen of them, but still was not sure I would be able to homeschool.
Attending GHEC 2012 in Berlin
I knew very few people in Russia who were homeschooling, and there were no home educated adults around. So, with a lot of theory in my head, I went to GHEC2012 in Berlin. Every word I heard there was of a great value to me. Especially meeting Gordon Neufield in person, author of Hold on to your kids. I was impressed by his personality, and even more by the fact that he had homeschooled five of his kids—that was not mentioned in his book. But the final arguments in favor of home education for me were the kids and the families that I met at GHEC 2012.
When I saw a group of American teenagers behaving themselves like aristocrats, I could not believe my eyes, as I have never seen anything like this in the US. I realized that home edudcation truly is making the difference. And I felt that I would go through any hardship to have kids like these. I came to GHEC 2012 being pregnant with my third child and felt myself like a hero—someone who was going to have more kids that any of my close friends in Russia! Guess what happened in Berlin? At the conference, I did not meet a single family that had less than 4(!) kids. Some of them had up to 10 children! I felt ashamed of my fears: If there were so many people homeschooling 5+ kids simultaneously, how could I be afraid to start home education with my eldest son!
Returning to Russia
I returned back to Russia with a lot of new information, a lot of new friends, and a strong confidence in the absolute necessity of homeschooling! I started homeschooling my eldest child three years ago, and now I am advocating for home education myself, doing my best to spread the word about home education in Russia and worldwide.
I find myself now speaking in front of local home education groups and authorities, sharing international home education experiences, recording TV interviews, and preparing a documentary film about home education. All this has started with GHEC 2012!
Expecations for GHEC 2016
What do I expect from GHEC2016? Frankly, I do not know what might come out of it, looking back and analyzing what developed for me from GHEC2012! I do not know how GHEC2016 will change my life, and I am exited about that! I very much look forward to meeting with all of the experts and veterans of homeschooling and to exchange with them experiences and ideas on the best ways to fight for home education.
I see GHEC 2016 as a unique event, which brings together truly dedicated people from all over the world, as passionate about home education as I am. We all have a lot to discuss and share! We all are operating in societies which do not fully understand the idea of home education, and often are hostile to it. Being a representative of a country with an emerging homeschool movement, it is important for me to explore the ways that countries with more-developed home education movements have already passed laws. I want to make new friends involved in home education from around the globe! I can’t wait to talk with Leigh Bortins and Debra Bell—their books have helped me enormously with my own home school. I want to feel again this atmosphere of deep understanding of the essence of our families, as I strongly believe home education is by far the best choice for both parents and children, and the best way to the happy family.
See you all in Rio!