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Dr Douglas Ota, Chair of Safe Passage Across Networks, psychologist and author
Relocate Awards Supplement
This article is taken from the 2021 Relocate and Think Global People Awards supplement.
Click on the cover to access the digital edition or on the links below to read all of the articles on our website.
Safe Passage Across Networks (SPAN) is a highly respected non-profit organisation that connects, equips and refreshes individuals, schools and organisations committed to healthy student, family and staff transition.At the start of the pandemic their Chair, Dr Douglas Ota, a leading psychologist, education authority and author of ‘Safe Passage: How mobility affects people and what international schools should do about it’, introduced The Nest. International school students, families and staff realised they were unable to say goodbye when the pandemic hit and the sense of loss generated an impetus for setting up this group.The Nest is a safe place which was devised with a generous spirit to enhance transitions-care providers’ capacity, skills,  understanding and empathy which were being daily battered by the impact of the Covid pandemic.The Nest evolved as a place for individuals to reflect on their own wellbeing and fill their emotional and practical toolkits. It is a place that attendees have described as therapeutic for actively listening to diverse perspectives while sharing and discussing compelling solutions and useful strategies for assisting individuals and families in global transition.The Nest offered a facilitated experience via Zoom with a speaker for 60 minutes. It was carefully planned and regular, while breakout rooms offered opportunity for discussion and collegiality.

Schools supporting parents

The judges were impressed by the supporting video provided by SPAN which addressed how parents have had to take on an educator role and how schools have had to support parents teaching at home. This has meant that teachers are having to teach parents how to teach and this puts a lot of pressure on teachers. Schools have become the centre of support for parents during the pandemic. This is recognised and supported by The Nest initiative.The entry statement places the pandemic at the centre of focus demonstrating how the virus has forced schools into actions that they have never seen before. The emotions of children and adults are highlighted and the sense of loss that can be experienced as schools close and education moves online and to home schooling.It is fitting in 2021 to honour a selfless, not for profit initiative with an award.As the Head Judge concluded, “The founders of this service have demonstrated care for all in the education system.”

A community message

Dr Ota said, “SPAN is thrilled to receive the Relocate Award. SPAN believes that well-managed mobility affords people opportunities for growth, but unmanaged mobility creates stress. It can undermine a child’s education and development. So, the pandemic gave the world a non-optional masterclass in the consequences of unmanaged mobility. The Nest was SPAN's best effort to support international educators and give them a safe place to land so they could continue their important work. We're thankful to the Think Global People and Relocate Awards for highlighting our efforts and those of all the other important organisations striving to support people through transitions.”The Nest was there for individuals, the admissions teams, the Heads, the school counsellors, the administration staff, the parents, bereft of their physical schools during lockdown and overwhelmed by the sheer scale of responsibility for not only young learners, but also a whole community. They were there for the people working tirelessly to get learning online and support the learning needs of their pupils in record time. The Nest was there to support Heads and their teams to deliver the highest hygiene and safety protocols, relay government guidelines and uphold a trusted position for families, staff and pupils in shock, often fearful and far from home.www.spanschools.org

Award sponsored by the International School Ho Chi Minh City

The 2021 Relocate and Think Global People Awards Supplement - Out Now

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