London Calling

@LittleLauraHeald in the early evening night of a London winter.

Growing up, I was always told that London was a cold and wet place with dreary weather and drab dress. I have now spent more time in this city on the Thames than any other international locale, and it is one of my favorite places to visit. It's an international city with incredible flavors, pleasing patterns and a rich history.

London is the home of William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens; the Brontë sisters and the Beatles; Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin. It’s a city steeped in pomp, culture and tradition.

I first came to London nearly 8 years ago with a group of Italians for a presentation. I then came for the Olympic Games. Now - and for the last five years - I come for the Education World Forum. 

Since 2013, Bill and I have been coming to the London every January to interview ministers of education and educational professionals from around the world. It's part on a larger conversation on the state of education that we have been working on with our good friend, Gavin Dykes, who is the Programme (English spelling) Director at the Education World Forum. 

Every year we ask the same simple question - what is a good education? It's a broad baseline that allows us to zero in on issues and successes that effect each nation, continent and geo-political region. We talk to people from Hong Kong and Nigeria, Finland and the Philippines, Iraq and Ireland.

It’s a consistently great event. We always learn something new and meet someone amazing. It's an annual beginning of the year reminder that there are passionate people doing good things all around the world. 

This year has been especially poignant as the United Kingdom heads into a world outside the European Union and the United States begins a Donald Trump presidency.

On Saturday morning, January 21st, Bill and I arrived in London with Jennifer Gotrik, a former Fulbright Scholar and University of Nebraska graduate, who was able to join us in London on her way to a semester in Denmark

We left America just after Donald Trump took the oath of office and landed in London as friends and colleagues were gathered in Washington D.C. to cover an inauguration and a protest. 

We checked into the hotel and began exploring the well explored city, trying to walk the long flight out of our legs. As we meandered, we ran into London's own Women's March, which began at the US Embassy on Grosvenor Square and ended at the famous Trafalgar Square.

@LittleLauraHeald with Jen and Bill at London's Women's March.

Finding the march was a happy accident that made for an eventful afternoon. We took photos of the happy and passionate marchers and joined them at Picadilly Circus. There were men, women and children from around the world; from every race, religion and sexual preference. 

The crowd was diverse and joyous, and the weather complimented the feeling - clear, blue and unexpectedly warm.