Blessed to have attended SXSW EDU in Austin, TX. South By was intellectually stimulating. It was about epistemology and world views. You don’t go to South By to learn how to reformat a Powerpoint slide. South By is about changing the world. Here are a few of my takeaways:
Accomplished people here are so passionate about their calling/purpose. Michael Sorrell said that his university is not a “school,” but a “movement.” Their mission is to end poverty. They are changing their community.
Juan Pablo Romero Fuentes wants to create a school in Guatemala that is so engaging that it keeps kids off the streets. He is up against the drug lords. When asked, “How do you account for different student levels?” he replied, “That’s an American thing. We respect everyone as human beings. We will work with every child.”
Then I thought about our mission at Kamehameha. Our mission is just as noble. We are trying to preserve a culture, a language, and a people. How often do I think about our mission when I’m at school? I bet that there is not a moment that goes by when they are not thinking about theirs…
I’ve always suspected that there was a “parallel universe” to these conferences. That the “real” conference starts after 6pm. It was definitely confirmed. Casey Agena asked me, “What are you doing tonight?” I replied that I signed up for the opening party. Casey said, “Me too. And I signed up for five more parties. Wanna come?” I said, “Shoots.” Apparently Google, Apple, etc. were all in town and had these meetups. I didn’t see any of it in the conference listings. Casey said that they’re not officially part of SXSW. They’re not “underground” events, but more like “parallel” events.
Casey introduced me to everybody. I got to hang out with David Ross from DC and Emma Peng from Beijing. David created PBL World. He even paid for my Voodoo doughnut. Got back to the hotel with a pocket full of business cards and a bunch of great memories that I can now barely remember.
The Ugly Stepsister
South By EDU might be the best conference that I’ve ever been to (both before and after 6pm.) That being said, it fell far short of my expectations. I was hoping that it would be more like the SXSW Music Festival. High energy, raw, cutting edge, in-your-face, etc., etc. Instead, South By EDU was an improved version of your traditional education conference. It was “hipster,” but not “gangster.” Wish I could stay in Austin for just one more week…