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A Routine General assembly!

On Friday October 17th the Ordinary General Assembly took place in a hall at the Kuressaare Conference Centre. This is a routine meeting at which the directors of AEHT member schools get together with the Presidium members. English/French Interpretation of the proceedings is provided of course.

an essential part of the proceedings: the participants sign in The Presidium table, with, from left to right: Annie Collinet, Bogusława Pienkowska, Anna Paula Pais, Louis Robert, Nadine Schintgen, Alfonso Benvenuto, John Rees Smith, Neeme Rand
an essential part of the proceedings:
the participants sign in
The Presidium table, with, from left to right:
Annie Collinet, Bogusława Pienkowska, Anna Paula Pais, Louis Robert, Nadine Schintgen, Alfonso Benvenuto, John Rees Smith, Neeme Rand


The General Assembly, chaired by Louis Robert, went off according to plan. Louis Robert greeted the assembly and expressed his great pleasure at being here in Kuressaare – these sentiments were echoed with loud applause for the organiser, Neeme Rand. The proposed agenda was adopted with no objections.

an attentive assembly
an attentive assembly

In his president’s report Louis Robert mentioned that Alfonso Benvenuto had withdrawn from the Executive Board and from the Presidium following his retirement; he therefore introduced to the meeting Annie Collinet, director of the François Bise school in Bonneville (Haute-Savoie) and the French national representative for the last two years, who had been elected Vice-President at the previous day’s Executive Board meeting, on Thursday October 16th; the other candidate for the post had been Mrs Rosella Bitti, Alfonso’s successor as director of the the ‘A.Panzini’ IPSSARCT. One of the Italian members contested this election, but Louis Robert observed that this was merely a case of proceeding in strict compliance with the statutes.
Louis Robert also briefly mentioned the 22nd Annual Conference next year in Dubrovnik, Christmas in Europe which would take place in Château-Chinon from December 5th-10th , and the mission to Colombia as guests of the SENA (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje)  - a highly instructive trip for which he thanked Sébastien Longhurst.

Sébastien took the opportunity to give a broad outline of the functions of the SENA, an organisation financed by contributions from companies, which up to 2007 had already trained more than 5 million people. The partnership with the AEHT should be mutually beneficial for both the SENA and the AEHT, said Sébastien, who moreover had come to Kuressaare with four students.

Sébastien Longhurst
Sébastien Longhurst

The President also mentioned the Council of Elders consisting of five founder members including Adolf Steindl who was present at the meeting and would make a presentation later on. And lastly he introduced and handed over to Paul Van den Heuvel, the director of the Restolingua company, who demonstrated the use of a database to translate menus into eight languages. Moreover an agreement between Restolingua and the AEHT would be signed at the end of the General Assembly.

Paul Van den Heuvel
Paul Van den Heuvel 

Finally the President informed the meeting that elections would be held in 2009, and mentioned the possibility of extending the mandates from three to four years; the idea had already been discussed at the Executive Board but would be submitted to an extraordinary meeting of the General Assembly in 2009. We must also make provision for the possible move of the administrative headquarters to another country, though the official head office would remain where it is.

Vice-presidents’ reports

Bogusława Pienkowska, Vice-president responsible for the ACCOR placements, said she was disappointed at the small number of placements which had been taken up, and urged members to encourage their teachers to make use of these training opportunities; they are offered between June and September, and the list of the participating hotels may be found on the AEHT’s website. Gilles Honegger, the former representative of the ACCOR group, did not mince his words when he spoke briefly on the subject. ‘Both sides are running out of steam. After fifteen years we are now in a crucial period’. Behind his words was the message that if things didn’t improve there would be no more placements.

Gilles Honegger
Gilles Honegger

For his last report Alfonso Benvenuto, Vice-president responsible for higher education, stated that in future he would work in collaboration with his successor Annie Collinet on setting up new initiatives in this field as well as in that of continuing professional development. In particular he would be working on a European project which would benefit everyone and should cost the AEHT nothing. Louis Robert again wished Alfonso Benvenuto a happy retirement.

Anna Paula Pais, Vice-president in charge of seminars and occasional events, read out the long list of events which had already taken place and described the proposed programme for 2009 – details of which may be consulted on the AEHT website  (go to , then click on events calendar/calendar printed version and click on the Word version of the calendar).
She drew particular attention to the 16th Christmas in Europe in Château-Chinon from December 5th-10th 2008 and to the 2009 event in Poznan, where it will be held for the second time. Mrs Christiane Keller took the floor briefly to say that they still needed a school from southern Europe to make a full complement for the 2008 event; and she reminded the meeting of the fundamental principles of Christmas in Europe, which are to ‘build bridges’ and to enable the participants to share in the ‘richness of their differences’.

Neeme Rand, the Vice-president in charge of Information Technology and Communications, reminded the meeting how important it is to have accurate e-mail addresses for trouble-free communication; he recommended everyone not only to make sure their mail boxes were not full, but also to visit the AEHT website regularly. He also took the opportunity to praise the ‘amazing job’ done by Ahti Paju, the AEHT webmaster, in setting up the electronic registration system for the Conference.

And finally Klaus Enengl, Vice-president in charge of finances, said that he would not spend time on the figures on the financial statement (which those attending the meeting were supposed to have read on the hand-out) but went on to give some information about the situation regarding subscriptions. 80 schools had not paid their subscriptions, and 25 schools were in arrears of two years or more. The subscription rate is 270 Euros. Sometimes the bank charges for the transfer of the subscription are charged to the AEHT, which represents a loss of around 4,000 Euros to the Association. The subvention of 20,000 Euros from the Luxembourg government will continue. Moving onto the outgoings, Klaus explained that these were accounted for not only by our contributions to various competitions and events as well as salaries and overheads, but also by travel and administrative costs. Our auditors, Danièle Snauwaert and Jürgen Clausen, confirmed that the accounts for the year ending December 31st 2007 accurately reflected the Association’s financial position; this opinion was set out in a document which Klaus Enengl read out to the meeting; he announced that despite their absence the two auditors had agreed to continue their work for 2008.
Before finishing his report, Klaus Enengl made a point of thanking Norbert Richartz, our accountant: though he had taken early retirement he would continue his work for the AEHT. He also thanked Nadine Schintgen for her excellent work as General Secretary.
One last point: on the recommendation of the Treasurer the Assembly endorsed the exclusion of 26 schools for non-payment of their subscriptions, while welcoming 19 new member schools.

Louis Robert then asked the meeting to admit Alfonso Benvenuto as an honorary President; and to loud applause from the meeting he presented Alfonso with a gift.

Alfonso Benvenuto and Louis Robert. The two of them have worked closely together for many years in the AEHT!
Alfonso Benvenuto and Louis Robert.
The two of them have worked closely together for many years in the AEHT!

Adolf Steindl, representing the members of the Council of Elders, briefly took the floor to announce that the Council has met just once, in Diekirch, since it was set up in March 2008; its role is, and will continue to be, to help in for example the organisation of seminars or in identifying sponsors. For the moment there are five members of the Council of Elders: Adolf himself, Jürgen Clausen, Michel Gaillot, Hans Russegger and Roy Van Sassen. It goes without saying that all are unpaid volunteers.

Adolf Steindl the AEHT’s Austrian Elder
Adolf Steindl the AEHT’s Austrian Elder

Next year in Dubrovnik
The 22nd Annual Conference will take place in November 2009 in Dubrovnik, a town located at the southern end of the Dalmatian coast, close to the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. Antun Perušina, the director of the organising school, presented this event with the help of one of his students dressed in regional costume. His presentation and a supporting video praised the charms of this our next destination and proudly showed Dubrovnik’s range of hotel accommodation, and his pitch was completed by brochures which participants could collect at the entrance to the meeting hall. An Italian school director expressed his wish to have the date of the conference brought forward, but Antun Perušina explained that his would not be possible because the Croatian tourist season lasts until the end of October: the event had to take place during the low season in order to take advantage of lower hotel room prices. Antun Perušina ended his presentation by extending a warm invitation to the whole meeting to come to Dubrovnik in 2009. He certainly got his message across!


President Louis Robert’s next-to-last contribution was an appeal to those schools which had not yet paid their fees for the Kuressaare Conference, and the ritual question whether there was any other business. There being no other business, he nevertheless reminded the meeting that the next General Assembly would be held in Dubrovnik on November 19th 2009 and that the AEHT’s professional partners are La Casa della Divisa, the ACCOR Group, Villeroy et Boch and Grand Marnier.

The General Assembly’s last piece of business was the signature of the agreement between the AEHT, represented by Louis Robert as President, and the Restolingua company represented by Paul Van den Heuvel and Mrs Arike Vermazen. With the vice-presidents as co-signatories for good measure!

The agreement is signed!
The agreement is signed!

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