30TH AEHT ANNUAL CONFERENCE IN OSTEND
COMPLETE CHANGE AT THE HEAD OF THE AEHT: REMCO KOERTS IS THE NEW PRESIDENT
Years follow one another but are never the same. This time, from 13th to 18th November 2018, the 14 Belgian Schools located in Flanders hosted the delegates from 97 schools located in 26 countries, making a total of exactly 583 persons, not counting the collaborating students from the partner schools. The event was a great challenge for the organisers headed by Sanne Huygens, president of the Oostende 2017 Organising Committee and Director of the Wemmel Campus, who was assisted by her ‘five musketeers’, as she liked to remind us.
A radical shake-up has taken place at the head of the AEHT. In accordance with the statutes Ana Paula Pais (Portugal) will have to wait four years before she can be a candidate in the elections for the AEHT presidency, but in the meanwhile she will remain a Vice President. She is replaced by the new President Remco Koerts (The Netherlands). Klaus Enengl (Austria) leaves his post as Vice President but remains in the Presidium as Treasurer. Ray Cullen (Ireland), Nuria Montmany Alvarez (Spain) and Michel Lanners (Luxembourg) become Vice Presidents while Neeme Rand (Estonia) retains his post of Vice President. Similarly Nadine Schintgen continues in her role as General Secretary. Bogusƚawa Pienkowska (Poland) leaves the Presidium and remains the National Representative.
Organising the ten competitions is in itself a tall order, but finding the venue for them is quite another challenge! The solution was the Kursaal, which could accommodate not only the said competitions but also everything else which makes the Conference so interesting. And there were 283 students who competed in the usual contests, while an eleventh competition took place under the ægis of Palm Breweries – Cornet Beer. The buffets, the meetings, the briefing sessions, the seminars, the workshops, the official gatherings such as the inaugural evening and the gala evening – everything was concentrated in the Kursaal. This concentration in a single venue was much appreciated, despite the sometimes labyrinthine layout of the building! And let’s not forget the 300-odd students from the 14 Flemish schools which had joined together to form the organising body – they worked hard to run the catering operation for the Conference. That too was quite a tall order.
Two hotels provided accommodation for the delegations. One was the Andromeda, almost on the doorstep of the Kursaal; the other was the Vayamundo, five tram stops away on the seafront.
What can we say of the meals, except that the lunch buffets were prepared and served by students of the various partner schools in turn, and that they were outstanding in terms of their variety and of their budding professionalism. As for the dinner buffets, they were served for all the participants in the Hotel Vayamundo.
And finally let’s not forget the guided tour of the City of Ostend, the excursions to Bruges, Ghent and Brussels, as well as the day-long excursion on November 17th to the region’s historical sites connected to the Great War of 1914-1918, places of remembrance which need to be brought to the attention of our young people especially.
Traditionally this long excursion takes place on the same day as the grand gala evening, which this year was held in several stages. Firstly there was a an official but relaxed reception in the Erehal Room, followed by the starter and main course in the Delvaux Room; the ceremonial handing over of the flag and the prize-giving were held in the superb auditorium, and finally the dessert was served back in the Erehal Room. In short it was a most unusual arrangement, but a completely rational one!
This 30th Annual Conference was indeed a very fine edition, marked as usual by the traditional outbursts of joy from the competition winners. For many of them this was a prelude to getting a taste for competition which will serve them well as they face future challenges in the real world of work!
We’ve already put in our diaries the dates of the next Annual Conference, to be held in November 2018 in Leeuwarden in the Netherlands!