"Networking is extremely important"; Mehnaz Aziz on the ISSA Conference 2017

 What are your main take-aways from the conference? 
"I took part in last year's ISSA conference in Lithuania. Already there I could see that the success of the ISSA network is growing and the gravitational pull of early years providers, academics and advocates coming towards ISSA is on the increase, which is delightful. When I come to the European network, my main attraction is the European practice, and ISSA is the specialist to bring it all together. For instance, during the panel on practices from various countries, you can pick and choose what fits best into your context. So it's the local practice which is going into global reality.

I've been working in this field the last twenty years, and you can't always think big. It's about one child and then a collection of children, their experience, and then their parents. So, Early Childhood Education is something very human. It's not a broad brush thing. You have to continue to link up to the best practices, which are based on the best research and thinking. This is my major takeaway: local practices and how to translate them into global trends.
Each year that I come to an ISSA conference I take away a lot of these parts that I put into our implementation programs back home in Pakistan. We work in partnership with the government of Pakistan, in particular with the Minister of Education, and we bring all these thoughts there as well."
How important is networking for you?
"The networking aspect is extremely important. You can't network with all 450 people at this conference, but you can chose. It's nice to see the thinking and ideas merging. I give you an example: by chance I walked into the Young Global leaders session. I just sat there and I thought 'wow'. I have a lot of young people working in my own organization, so I just wondered 'why aren't we linked?'. My program is giving skills to youth to open up their own early years centers. When the session finished we spoke with the network facilitators and discussed the possibilities to add Pakistan to this program. To me that's like magic."