Alex and I have always wanted to go to Japan and we finally managed to organize a trip there for our Songkran (Thai New Year) holiday a few weeks ago. We’re pretty well-traveled, so normally I wouldn’t think one of our vacations is worth a blog post, but this trip had something special: my PLN.
One of the reasons we decided to go to Japan this year was because I actually had quite a few friends living around the country. Not friends from college or high school, or former colleagues, in fact, I had never met most of them face-to-face. But we share ideas, collaborate on projects, and chat almost every day, thanks to Twitter, Skype, G-talk, and my RSS reader. Because of these virtual friendships, we were able to take a very unique tour of Japan, stopping in at three schools, staying with friends, and really experiencing a taste of life in Japan.
- Brian and Genki shared every single detail about transportation (and the essential Japan Rail Pass) I could ever want, down to pictures of which trains we could take and which ones we couldn’t.
- Brian and his wonderful wife, Alex, even welcomed us into their home, took us out to dinner, and let us stay overnight when we first arrived in Japan!
- Rhonda organized a full day of visits all around Canadian Academy and Rokko Island so we could meet various teachers and even take a sneak peak into CA teacher apartments. What better way to get to know a school than to visit in person?
- Christine organized an in-depth tour of Yokohama International School, including a delicious lunch off campus (with more fellow Twitterers, Brian, and Collin), and even a Japan educators Tweetup after work, where we got to make even more new friends (and visit Apple Japan HQ)!
- Leanne magically coordinated a full day of consulting for me at Tokyo International School, where I got to meet quite a few fellow Twitterers (like Allan, Matt, Michelle, Andrew, Lisa, and even a new ISB colleague) and of course, got to continue building my consulting experience.
Of course, through all of this, I got to know my virtual friends so much better. It still amazes me how deeply we can connect online, and just how real my virtual friendships are. Meeting Leanne, Rhonda, Christine, and Genki for the first time wasn’t really like the first time – I knew them already from our many conversations!
This isn’t the first time I’ve met members of my PLN face to face, but it is the first time it hasn’t been at a conference or professional event (or on my own “turf” in Bangkok). I love that we originally connected based on our professional interests, but that we can build on that foundation to create a true friendship that extends beyond work.
Thank you so much, friends, for making our trip to Japan so absolutely fantastic! We never could have done it without you!
The best thing about holidays is spending time with friends, and thanks to my PLN, it seems like I have friends almost everywhere!
How have you connected, in person, with your PLN?