September 2022
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Jane Chien, National Taipei University of Education, Taipei, Taiwan

Greetings fellow CALL-IS members and friends!

Attending the TESOL 2022 convention in Pittsburgh was definitely the highlight of the year for me. For many of us, it was the first in-person conference since 2019. On the evening of the TESOL Awards reception, four CALL-IS past-chairs, Claire Bradin Siskin, Deborah Healey, Tom Robb, Justin Shewell, and I gathered around Susan Gaer for a photo, congratulating her for receiving TESOL Virginia French Allen Award for Scholarship and Service!

As TESOL and all other academic conferences are staging a comeback for in-person conventions, many worry whether it can compete with the convenience of accessing the conference from our computer screens. Our TESOL 2022 “fully virtual” Electronic Village (EV) had attracted more than 4000 unique participants from over 135 countries, with 10,000 EV site visits during the three days of the convention. This tremendous achievement would not be possible without Heather Benucci’s leadership, along with the support of event leads—Marta Halaczkiewicz, Olenka Villavicencio, Mary Allegra, Sandy Wagner, and Christine Bauer-Ramazani—the steering committee members, Best of EVO facilitators, and the help of many volunteers that transformed the EV into a truly global event. The virtual EV has demonstrated that while TESOL members receive an important benefit from attending the annual convention in person, as Heather shared during the CALL-IS Open Meeting, “by having an open [no-cost] event, we are providing great professional development around the world to those who may not be able to attend [due to health concerns, economic constraints, or logistical reasons], and we are hopefully getting people excited about the CALL-IS and the TESOL convention as a whole,” which, in turn, can increase TESOL membership and attendance at in-person events. We concluded that having a hybrid event best served the CALL-IS community and TESOL educators across the globe.

Thanks again to Heather, who led the CALL Interest Section during the most challenging times and moved the CALL-IS forward in a new direction in response to the pandemic. It has been a wonderful learning experience for all of us and we are grateful for your leadership and guidance. To Mary Allegra, Kim Andrus, Ellen Dougherty, and Sam Adams, who are rotating off, thank you for your years of service to the CALL-IS, hosting webinars, maintaining the CALL-IS website, assisting with the EV program, and more.

I would also like to welcome our newly elected CALL-IS Steering Committee members. Jasmin Cowin, Jarrent Tayag, Heather Austin, and Sandy Wagner on board until 2025. Marta Halaczkiewicz has taken over as Past Chair, and we welcome Nellie Deutsch and Judy Wong as Co-chairs Elect. We have one member-at-large vacancy to be filled for next year as EV returns to an in-person event. We invite you to apply once elections are open in early 2023.

Planning for TESOL 2023 has already begun. The CALL-IS Academic Session and the Intersection sessions with the Speech/Pronunciation/Listening Interest Section (SPLIS) and Intercultural Communication Interest Section (ICIS) have been well planned, thanks to Nellie and Judy. Marta has been working with the team to coordinate an in-person dynamic EV with a webcasting team streaming the live sessions. The good news about the EV next year is that participants do not need an additional 10-dollar fee to attend or present. There will be a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) space in the exhibition hall for all to participate. The EV call for proposals will be out on September 30th.

Also, what’s coming up is EVO 2023 four-week professional development for moderators of three provisionally accepted sessions and fifteen returning sessions. For EVO 2022, we had 89 moderators offering 19 sessions, including eight new and eleven returning sessions. Thanks to Christine Bauer-Ramazani and the EVO Coordination team, 2179 participants from 100 countries joined our five-week free professional development. EVO is a great platform to offer our expertise, network with other teachers, and learn with TESOL professionals from different parts of the world. For more information, see the announcement below.

Finally, I would like to thank our newsletter editors, Larry Udry and Suzanne Bardasz. It’s a lot of work putting the newsletters out for all these years, especially during the pandemic. I want to encourage our members to consider submitting articles to our newsletter (call for submissions). It’s a great way to serve the interest section and share thoughts, practices, or reflections on CALL during and after the pandemic.

We, along with the worldwide CALL community, are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Vance Stevens, the co-founder of CALL-IS and the first officially appointed CALL-IS Chair in 1984. As hundreds of friends from different parts of the world swarmed in on Facebook with tributes and condolences have put it, Vance was “an online pioneer who was a giant among his peers”, “a mentor, role model, and our friend,” “[our] guide, and an inspiration,” “the go-to guy in the Electronic Village…at TESOL CALL-IS,” “an outstanding Webhead who marked the professional lives of thousands of teachers from all over the world,” and so much more to so many of us! Vance was the kindest, most active, charismatic leader of different CALL communities. He was the person we have always relied on in challenging times, i.e. putting together “Best of EVO not canceled but moved online” when the TESOL convention 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic.

Christine Bauer-Ramazani shared that Vance played a major role in the webcasts from the EV at many TESOL Conventions. In fact, Vance was the one that came up with the idea and single-handedly started webcasting EV sessions that he participated in to the Webheads, who were our most enthusiastic and consistent audience for several years. In 2006, Christine took his concept and started organized webcasting of several select sessions from the EV. Of course, Vance was on the Webcasting Team of the CALL-IS and continued to play a major role in it. He always tinkered with new ways to connect with various and broader audiences, fixing problems with broadcasting on-the-go at TESOL Conventions. As Christine said in the EVO tribute on the EVO landing page, "Your light will shine in EVO forever, dear Vance! We are so grateful for your 20 years of dedicated service to EVO and the EVO coordination team as a kind, patient, knowledgeable mentor."

Up until last month, Vance was still working on EVO 2023 preparation with me. He was a great mentor while I have been involved in EVO and the CALL-IS. Presenting at the TESOL convention in 2018 and 2019 with Vance and watching how he problem-solved webcasting glitches on the spot and hosted the sessions accommodating in-person and virtual attendees was truly amazing. He was the editor of the "On the Internet" column in TESL-EJ for 19 years. I knew many of us published our work in the column under his encouragement. At this time of sorrow, I thought a great way to celebrate his life and contributions to the CALL-IS would be to read “How the TESOL CALL Interest Section Began,” an article he wrote as a co-founder of the CALL-IS, and share your memories of him with us on this Padlet wall. We join together as a community and mourn this loss. He will be so greatly missed. Vance Stevens was an inspiration to so many of us, and his legacy will never be forgotten.

With best wishes,

Jane Chien

Jane Chien is an associate professor in the Department of Children’s English Education at the National Taipei University of Education. During the past 17 years, she has been engaged in pre-service EFL elementary school teacher training and in providing professional development to in-service teachers. She is now serving her three-year term as CALL Interest Section Chair. Her most recent CALL related publication is an article for TESL-EJ entitled The Language of Massively Multiplayer Online Gamers: A Study of Vocabulary in Minecraft Gameplay.
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The CALL-IS is inviting you to submit a proposal for the Electronic Village at TESOL 2023. The CFP will be open between September 30 and November 6, 2022.