THE CULTURE OF HOSPITALITY!
On the face of it wanting to hold the AEHT’s 25th Annual Conference in Macedonia seemed like attempting the impossible. What? Such a little country with, at first sight, so few assets except for its mountains, its monasteries and its fity-odd lakes?Indeed the challenge was taken up with panache by the Lazar Tanev Hotel and Tourism School in Skopje, headed up by its director Zoran Nikolovski.
Zoran Nikolovski had made a point of showing his determination at the 24th Annual Conference in The Hague, where he had skilfully ‘warmed up’ his audience. This is why around 600 people, coming from 130 schools in 30 countries, responded to his invitation in 2012. Zoran and his team showed themselves well able to organize the accommodation in Ohrid and Skopje, the transfers, the competitions and the excursions with a lot of skill and with the support of the ARKA agency whose professionalism is well-known.
It is true that the running of the competitions, that old chestnut, although closely watched over by Vice-President Louis Robert’s team, was once again marred, as every year, by misunderstandings, by failure to read the conditions properly, sometimes even by dishonesty; but at the finishing line it was only the result that mattered. Inevitably there were those who were disappointed, and there were students and/or teachers accusing the judges of every fault under the sun. What could one do about it, except keep in mind the spirit of modern Olympic Games: the important thing is to take part?
As for the social programme for the participants, there was a wide and varied choice of excursions and visits. There is no doubting that the land ofAlexander the Great has no lack of attractions and can boast of a long history. Maceonia, ‘the Jerusalem of the Balkans’ in the words of AEHT President Klaus Enengl, with its historical sites, its monasteries, its ancient remains and, last but not least, the city of Skopje and its multitude of statues of all shapes and sizes including that most monumental effigy dedicated to Alexander the Great – Macedonia is a country that can be proud of its centuries-old heritage.
And should we add that even the weather came as a welcome guest, turning fair and mild for the numerous participants, including those used to harsher climes in the north of Europe? The various performances given during the opening ceremony, at the Macedonian dinner and at the gala evening also contributed to creating a party mood at the 25th Annual Conference, combined with an immersion in the traditions of this so endearing country.
All in all this 25th conference was well run, and also saw the introdution of the new formula for the award of medals following the competitions; the formula met with great satisfaction on the part of the medal winners who were inevitably more numerous and inevitably even more enthusiastic.
Despite the difficulties they encountered, the Lazar Tanev school, its teams and its director Zoran Nikolovski, showed themselves able to offer their guests these unforgettable days which are certain to remain engraved on their memory.