It was exhilarating to be part of the Africa and Middle East conference in Casablanca, it was even more special to be made chief delegate by Solvieg. I’ve been to 5 international conferences now and this was the best in terms of how much I gained from it.
It started with the walk on to the stage at the opening ceremony, I was slow to take part in the Union Jack branding but as the only UK delegate I embraced it this time with a full length Union Jack dress, there is no point in doing anything by halves, it was quite a statement. My moment of glory was short lived but it still felt amazing to be part of this fantastic process.
The ceremony was followed by an alcohol free after party, What a JCI party that’s alcohol free??? You better believe it! It took a bit of getting used to be I managed to have fun in the end, how could I not? They are all good people; we were all having a good time together.
The total delegation was no more than 300 people, this is a way made it more special, it was a much more intimate event than I’m used to but I pretty much met everyone there that is a unique experience at JCI.
In the western world we forget the problems people have around the world, tears come to my eyes many times when the Japanese tsunami was highlighted and the massacre in Syria was happening as I was making friends with Syrians, some of the nicest most positive people I’ve ever met. In an atmosphere like this you can’t believe people don’t get along around the world.
I went alone to Casablanca, it never takes any time at all to find lifelong friends at these events, I seemed to naturally gravitate to the German delegation, sitting with them during GA and coming a member for the day as they placed their bid for World Congress in Leipzig in 2014, I can’t wait for that event! I also learnt quite a lot from them.
Let’s not forget the non-European delegates, in the western world we forget the problems people have around the world, tears come to my eyes many times when the Japanese tsunami was highlighted and the massacre in Syria was happening as I was making friends with Syrians, some of the nicest most positive people I’ve ever met. In an atmosphere like this you can’t believe people don’t get along around the world.
However the main reason I went to Casablanca was to meet three of the most prominent members of JCI Zimbabwe, the four of us became the (re)founding members of JCI Zambia, it all started here, “passion into action”. We had a face to face meeting and agreed on a plan of action and a time frame, I can’t wait to get this show on the road!
We also took part in another passion into action programme in the form of a hospital clean up. It was quite a sight to see a hundred or so Jaycees walking through the streets of Casablanca to a rundown hospital, many hands really do make light work, we set to on a major litter picking up, cleaning and painting exercise, it was transformed in no time and a great JCI contribution to the Millennium development goals.
The gala dinner (thankfully served with wine) was the usual grand affair. I feel like I had known these people all my life and was becoming melancholy that the conference was ending, but hey it all starts again in Braunschweig in a matter of day’s right?
Has anyone ever read 1984? The very last words in the book when the main character has finally been fully indoctrinated his final thoughts were “I love big brother”, well it’s taken quite a few years of membership to get to this place and these won’t be my final thoughts but I have to say “I love JCI”………
By Heather McShannon
Categorised in: International
This post was written by makedo