Today was interesting. In a house close to where I live, I saw the first Christmas tree and Christmas decorations of the year.
I also visited a symposium/congress/conference today on sport and development. This will be the field I’ll be working in, in Zimbabwe. It was, well, interesting.
The best part was that I met both the director of the organisation I’ll be working for and the man responsible for the unit I’ll be working in. Both were friendly, chatty and nice to talk too.
The symposium was visited by the likes of the Prince of Orange, Johan Olav Koss, Mr Adolf Ogi, Erica Terpstra (president of NOC*NSF), Ms Ross van Dorp (Dutch state secretary of sport) and was hosted by Humberto Tan. Many other high-level people I didn’t recognize but seemed to be packing lots of weight complemented the already impressive list of people.
Shortly after sitting down, Erica Terpstra, pretty huge by anyone’s standards, sat down right in front of me. Before sitting down, she introduced herself to me, explaining she was sorry for taking a seat right there: “I’m sorry to sit for you”.
If anything, I was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere. These people seemed, generally, to care more for this sub-subject of development work than what I’ve often seen in people working in development organisations. Most particularly, Mr Adolf Ogi, former president of Switzerland and now assisting Kofi Annan on making decisions in the field of sports and development, was very passionate and a great speaker.
Still, it does appear that a conference like this is a typical example of “preaching to the choir”. Some choice quotes: “Do what you believe in, believe in what you do.” – Adolf Ogi; “We believe in the zone.” – Charles Dzimba; “Sport is way above the oppertunities for children in developing countries.” – Thomas Sithole.
The conference was in English, although about 30% of the visitors were Dutch. The level of English spoken by many of the Dutch was shameful. Here are some examples (although only Dutchees really would understand them):
Humberto Tan: “Do you think it came over?” (Do you think they understood what you said?)
Erica Terpstra: “I’m sorry to sit for you.” (I’m sorry to sit in front of you.)
Erica Terpstra: “… they have no perspective.” (… they have no future.)
van Breda Vriesman: “I have to watch out not to loop him for the voeten.” (I have to watch out not to hamper him.)
?: “This should be a cooperation, not a concurrence.” (This should be a cooperation, not a competition.)
?: “My foreparents must be Sicilian.” (My forefathers must be Sicilian.)
van Breda Vriesman: “We are doing well in time.” (We are right on time.)
I only staid for the morning session, which already set me back 50 euros. Including the afternoon session would have set me back an additional 50 euros. But I did wait around for the drinks, afterwards, if only to, well, drink. No, if only to talk to my contacts in Zimbabwe.