" The important thing is taking part ..."
Killarney in 2006 in the North. Jesolo in 2007 in the South. 2008 in Kuressaare again in the North. Since the foundation of the AEHT in 1988 in Strasbourg, the Annual Conference has wandered around Europe. This North/South alternation is very healthy, and moreover has no adverse effects on attendance at the conference, despite the difficulties, the distances and the costs. The 2007 version has once again illustrated the point rightly emphasised by the AEHT's president Louis Robert: that the important thing is taking part.
We can’t repeat it often enough: students’ participation in the various competitions each year is an enormous benefit for them. Pitting one’s skills, knowledge and experience against those of other young people from other countries, other cultures, speaking other languages – all this is a salutary exercise, not so much in terms of technical skills, more in terms of social relationships.
These young people share everything for the duration of a competition and of their stay which, though short, is a rich journey of discovery. They realise that they are not alone. They find out how using foreign languages is a vital necessity in the hospitality and tourism sectors. Their experience in Jesolo, just as in the case of previous Annual Conferences, is a true passport for their professional and personal futures. Are they really aware of this, or do they need a little time to ‘digest’ this adventure? In any case, this is the ultimate purpose of this Annual Conference, besides the institutional aspect.
And what shall we say of these directors and teachers who also have the opportunity to share their experience(s) with colleagues from so many different lands? That is the AEHT. And the most important aspect is the convivial atmosphere which reigns at such gatherings. Tomorrow, in 2008, the AEHT will celebrate its 20th birthday in Estonia. This is the age at which people experience all their hopes, all their daring, all their aspirations. Long live the AEHT!