Christmas in Europe 2008 – the 17th edition – proved once again how much this highlight of the AEHT calendar has become an unmissable event from every point of view. The host school – the Château-Chinon vocational school – has shown this most convincingly, in every respect.
So this vocational school in this little town in the Morvan region, Château-Chinon, known throughout the world because François Mitterrand was its mayor, then member of parliament, senator and minister before he became President of the Republic; this vocational school and its 500-odd students, teachers and support staff found the means to pull all the stops out between December 5th and 10th to welcome the 17 delegations who had come from 13 European countries to organise here this new edition of Christmas in Europe.
Students and staff in this school took up the challenge set them five years ago by Jean Michel Wautelet, head of the hospitality department. With a faith that can move mountains he has found a way to convince them, mobilise them and carry them with him.
As soon as they arrived all the delegates, who had in many cases travelled great distances to reach Château-Chinon, had the feeling that they were expected; and despite a few minor lodging problems which were quickly solved, they quickly felt that this was ‘home from home’.
Everyone agreed – but in the AEHT this is a given – that the organisers had spared no effort to give the best they could to the delegations; and because this was France, they had placed particular emphasis on gastronomy. This was a true festival which the chefs, the students in the kitchen and the students serving in the dining room had managed to make everyone share in. There is no doubt that this Christmas in Europe is an event that none of the participants will quickly forget.
And what can we say of the programme for these few days, except that it was a succession of pleasures. The gymnasium was like a busy bee-hive as the exhibition stands were set up; there was the inaugural parade through the town followed by the official reception; the opening ceremony and the visit of the stands, as well as the various gastronomic meals served in the dining room of the training restaurant; the European buffet and the cultural show, the tourism excursion and finally the unforgettable gala evening. And all of this was worthy of all that Jean Michel Wautelet’s teams had been perfecting over a period of months.
And when the time came for departures, delegates were sorry to leave each other – but the separation was tempered by the hope of meeting again next year in Poznan!