A Five Day Conference in Antalya
Sorry for the blog gap this past week. I have been on a conference in Antalya with my unit (i.e. the Moldovan, Ukrainian, and Belarusian Country Offices and some of the DC staff coordinating the technical work for these countries). And because of a security update of our information system, I can at the moment not access my work e-mail and so I decided to travel light and leave my computer at home.
Our conference was held at what I thought was the definition of comfort. It was an all inclusive hotel located at the beach a few kilometers outside of Antalya, with swimming pools, saunas, Turkish bath facilities, bars, a buffet restaurant, shops, and even a cinema. I have never seen anything alike! It was like a small society within the gates of the hotel. If I would have stayed there the entire time, I am not sure I could even say that I had been to Turkey. I also thought it showed the absurd overconsumption of the rich and the unequal distribution in the world. Everything was designed to meet any possible demand for comfort and since it was an all inclusive, everyone consumed as much as they could of what was available. Way too many of the tourists staying there were heavily overweight and yet their plates were overloaded with food from the restaurant that offered more than we could ever eat. However, as our conference sessions started between 8:00 and 8:45 am every morning, and we worked for up to 10 hours per day, this setting proved to be very convenient as we could still enjoy the nice sun, lovely Mediterranean, and the other facilities during the limited time we had available for non-work activities. And it would be a lie to say that I did not enjoy it! (I should probably add that the organizers wanted to have the conference in the region, but off season Antalya was actually cheaper for a group the size of ours.)
The actual conference was immensely interesting and I learned a lot. I also enjoy these events as it gives us an occasion to meet people that we mainly work with via e-mail, a chance to discuss development and economics and learn from the experience of others, and to brainstorm around specific issues.
A very focused Åsa
Thursday afternoon was set aside for team building activities and I decided to go rafting on a river about 1.5 hour away from Antalya. Since this was my first time rafting, and I foresaw wild rivers with semi high falls, I went on a raft (or rather a boat) with a guide. It was great but the river was not very wild and at times it felt like we were out on a paddling trip organized for active seniors. So next time, I will go by canoe instead as some of my colleagues did. And it will for sure be a next time! Also, the nature was beautiful and I am glad that I got to see some more of the surroundings and not just the hotel areas.
A photo of a photo that they took of us (hence the bad quality)
Friday evening, the three country offices made presentations of their countries or their offices, and my colleagues presented our office with caricatures for each and every one of us. Mine is quite cute, but I am not really sure who the guy is…
So all and all, the retreat was great. I ate so much from the buffet that I have not been able to eat any dinner for several days in now. And I completely fell for the Turkish baths – it is how I imagine heaven!
The view from our hotel room (I shared with a colleague from our
sister organization IFC)
My colleagues having an evening swim wonderful Mediterranean