Smart Cities and Smart conferences – How does a JCI-conference look like in Belgium

Pirita Huotari (WJ Darmstadt) berichtet von Ihrer Teilnahme an der diesjährigen Nationalkonferenz in Belgien:

Amazing, amazing, amazing! That is all I can say after visiting Belgian National conference in Gent 2017. Even though I have participated to about 24 national and international conferences throughout my JCI-career, this one definitely goes straight to TOP-3.

What was then so great about this conference? Well, first of all it was not ‘just’ an internal JCI-training day: Throughout the year, Gent Artevelde (Organizing Local Organization) had built events and cooperation network around the theme ‘Smart Cities’. This project combined the universities, companies, the city and the third sector to consider what do the new technologies and opportunities mean for the city, its infrastructure, community and business. During Friday, they had organized an exhibition in the centrum on exploring opportunities around the theme, and on Saturday we heard multiple quality key notes going from city infrastructure to internet of things and data security. A world-class project even without the conference!

Going to the conference itself, it was exceptionally well organized, and one couldn’t complain about even a smallest detail. There were program tracks to choose from key notes to sports and leisure all the way to company visits, JCI-trainings and culture. On Friday, I participated to a really nicely built Global Development Goals workshop, on Saturday to key notes and in the afternoon played the world trade game. The latter reserves an extra recommendation. The world trade game is developed by a Nobel winner to simulate world trade. In the game everyone gets to play a country, and acquire end products required to keep the citizens happy by processing and trading resources. This was a fun way to spend an afternoon, even though with my lacking Flemish skills the negotiations were sometimes a bit of a challenge 😀

The Friday evening party and the Gala were of course amazing, with a cool location, the best food I have eaten in a conference, great program and live music. Without needing to mention, the cool Belgians who really know how to set up a party!

So, overall when you think what else is available through WJ than company visits in Southern Hesse, I encourage you to look around what’s going on in Europe and travel around a little bit!