Thursday, December 9, 2010

In Helsinki at last and ready to network

After one cancellation and more delays I finally arrived in snow covered Helsinki. I was unsurprised to discover that Finnair (the main Finnish airline) was still on strike; but, what did surprise me was that I was one of the few delegates to land relatively on time. In fact, many of the scheduled speakers are still stuck in their respective countries thanks to the Finnair kerfuffle, and have hitherto been unable to reach the EuroAfrica-ICT conference. It seems my inconvenience pales in comparison to the nerves of the organisers, who are hoping that the rest of the attendees arrive soon. Fingers crossed for the success of the eI-Africa sessions over the next two days.

There are still some major players who made it to the event. I happened to strike up a conversation with the Science Minister of Kenya while finding hot spots to place our cool (no pun intended) iSGTW Helsinki posters. Another interesting delegate I met was a woman named Victoria, who is a university lecturer in Nigeria. She is at the event to network with talented individuals she hopes to persuade in teaching her students back in Nigeria. Her goal is to enhance their skills so they are competitive on the world I.T. stage. And all this excitement happened in the first half-hour of me arriving at the event.

I’ve also managed to take a brief stroll through Helsinki, passing by its half-frozen lakes, and I fortuitously stumbled into a traditional Finnish Christmas market. The fish and sausages were scrumptious and there was so much to buy: from moose-skin gloves lined with sheep’s wool, to wooden Father Christmas models. One market seller described this two-week Christmas parade as follows: “You won’t find a more genuine hand-crafted market in Helsinki.” I’ll take his word for it then.

Currently, I’m on the prowl for a Swiss / Finnish adapter, as my laptop battery is running out, and I aim to mingle with more diplomats’ and further consume traditional Finnish food – I’ll be back online... hopefully.

Adrian Giordani

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