There was quite a surprise at the ceremony marking the passing of the AEHT flag from The Netherlands to Macedonia who will organise the 25th Annual Conference in 2012: for on the platform were not only the Director Zoran Nikolowski and his five students and the Directors from the Skopje, Ohrid et Krusevo Schools, but also 66 other Macedonians who had travelled specially to The Hague to be present at the ceremony! That made a total of 81 Macedonians who took part at the ceremony in the church. That was something we had never seen in the history of the AEHT, and proof if one were needed of how ambitious this little country is!
At the prize-giving ceremony Romana Bauer from the Bad Leonfelden School in Austria, a member of the team responsible for overseeing the competitions, was very surprised to have her birthday celebrated (it happened to be that same day). It was the President in person who delivered the birthday kiss while the audience gave a loud rendering of ‘Happy Birthday to You’ to Romana’s great surprise and delight – she had not expected this at all!
Mrs Qurrat ul Ain, Director of the Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management in Faisalabad in the Punjab in Pakistan, together with Mr Naved Asghar, came to The Hague as observers. They made no secret of their desire to see how the AEHT is run, and what its objectives are. The AEHT is a model which has proved itself over the last quarter of a century, but which would in any case need to be adapted to suit the needs of a large country such as Pakistan.
Throughout the day during the Conference the ROC Mondriaan’s television teams worked hard to produce, almost in real time, pictures that were relayed to the screen in the campus lounge; and they were also hard at work during the highlights of the Conference, the Opening Ceremony and the Gala Dinner.
Mug, USB stick and little clogs
What a nice surprise for the guests at the Gala Dinner. The students – but only they – were presented with a souvenir mug bearing the crest of Villeroy & Boch, one of the AEHT’s partners; while all the guests were given a USB stick loaded with images of several of the events that had taken place during the Conference, including selected images of the competitions. And in the bag of publicity material that everyone received, as well as the usual documentation there was a little pair of souvenir clogs!
You could call Delft ‘the blue city’ because its china is famed the world over for its inimitable blue decoration. So as well as all the usual Delft items sold in the shops, you can also see rather less common articles – for example this blue bicycle, or this parking meter covered with Delft tiles!
Tea or coffee?
Not only was the opening ceremony held in a consecrated church, but also at the entrance you could have either tea or coffee, served with a piece of cake and the added bonus of a smile from the students.
In the tourist guide of The Hague included in the souvenir bag given to every participant, we were told that the ‘Buittenhof herring stall’ was the best in the country and that even ministers went there to enjoy herrings. Some of the more curious delegates made their way to the stall – it is right in the centre of The Hague – and savoured these delicious herrings. Not a word of a lie!
At the General Assembly Ingrid Eras, head of training at the STARWOOD Group, was invited to give a presentation of her company. She surprised a lot of the delegates when she strongly encouraged them to engage in physical exercise before she plunged into her presentation. Apparently it is a way of stimulating the neurones!
Fabulous Shaker Boys!
A fine piece of art performed by the shaker artists of the Libbey experience. With the dexterity of magicians and their great knowledge of the ingredients, they produce incredible cocktails in the twinkling of an eye as the often dazzled crowd looks on.
No, these weren’t a way of checking who was present at the various meetings, but simply orange tokens given to the participants (three per person) so that they could obtain drinks (soft or alcoholic). It was a simple and efficient system which enabled the organisers to better manage their ‘wine cellar’. However some clever little devils managed to obtain more than three each ...
Delegations and their flags
Every year the delegations from each country, walking behind their national flag, present themselves to the audience. Some delegations are large, while others may consist of only one person. But everyone’s pride was palpable, and each delegation was greeted with loud applause. Here the students have gathered before they go on stage.
The AEHT’s Professional Members
Some of the AEHT’s Professional Members made the journey to The Hague. They included Marco Esposto from Casadelladivisa, Moïse Déglon of the eponymous cutlery firm, as well as the Spavarin Company. As for Serge Sevaux from Grand Marnier, who is a long-standing follower of the Annual Conference and had come straight from Poland for the Gala Evening, he had brought in his suitcase a supply of Grand Marnier which he was handing out generously!
Europe without the European Anthem
It was a bit of a shame after all that the European Anthem was not played one single time. It would have given an even clearer European note to the Conference, which was taking place, furthermore, in one of the European Union's founding countries. Perhaps we should include this requirement in the organiser's guidelines, either as a way of ending the opening ceremony, or to accompany the handing over of the flag.
Knives and liqueurs
At the prize-giving ceremony, two representatives of the exhibitors kept up their reputation for generosity. Moïse Déglon on behalf of the Déglon Company presented professional knife cases and Serge Sevaux from Grand Marnier gave the winners bottles of his company’s liqueur. Their gesture was much appreciated.