The term “international” is well suited to the full title of the Belin-Blank Center. As we embark this semester on our 25th anniversary as a center, it is instructive to recall that when we were designated a center in July of 1988, we served only the state of Iowa. Over the years we became national in scope, and now we are clearly international.
This past July, I presented a keynote address in Jerusalem (Associate Director Susan Assouline also presented a keynote address at the same conference in Jerusalem). Later in the month, I also gave a keynote presentation in Rio de Janeiro. I will be presenting in Germany in September. In October, we will host a group of educators from Russia. In early January 2013, Susan will be presenting in Australia and then later in January I will be presenting in Australia also.
The Belin-Blank Center has provided direct services in one form or another to over 60 countries. We have student programs with China and Hong Kong and are developing a student program with India. Our professional development program has served teachers from India, Korea, Russia, and several other countries. Our staff has provided workshops for educators in India, Chile, and Mexico.
What I have learned in my travels is that the world is clearly seeing the importance of identifying and educating its gifted students. It is also seeing the importance of preparing its teachers to be effective with such students. Perhaps what is most striking to me when I am abroad is the respect that is held for the Belin-Blank Center. We are seen as an advocate and ally whose research and services can advance gifted education in others’ homelands. There is trust that the work of the center has applications globally and that the center and its staff can be looked to for leadership and assistance.
Of course, we at the center also are shaped by the people and cultures of other countries. We have learned much from our international partners. I believe strongly that the future of the center and much of the future of gifted education will be influenced by the international community. This is exciting and energizing, to say the least. We serve Iowa and the nation even more effectively because we are an international center.