Around the globe again

Yesterday I began my review of a busy year by featuring the top ten cities I visited around the globe in 2010. The countdown continues from 5 to 1:

5) Serekunda, Gambia. Going to the Gambia in February was a profound learning experience for me. Serekunda is the largest city in one of the smallest and poorest African nations and it has to be one of my most inspirational experiences, ever. I was in Gambia looking after some of our education students, and we were on a week long comparative study tour. The students learnt a lot, but then so did I. The noisy bustle of the crowds, the colourful sights, the opressive heat and the huge variety of odours that assail your senses leaves you captivated, bewildered and excited all at once. We visited some of the schools and saw how teachers were coping with no money, few resources and the constant threat from sicknesses such as malaria. They are truly heroic. The pace of life in this tiny west african country is generally slow, but the people's minds are quick, and I had several opportunities to just sit down and talk to local people about life in the Gambia. People in the streets just approach you and want to talk. I learnt a lot about education, society and politics from these folks, and it was a rewarding but also at times a disturbing experience. To say my time in the Gambia changed my perspective on life does not do any justice to what I learnt there. Related blogpost.

4) Napier, New Zealand. During my Antipodean lecture tour in September and October, I arrived in Auckland airport direct from Brisbane and immediately boarded another, smaller turboprop flight which took me directly down to Hawke's Bay and the lovely town of Napier. Napier was the victim of a massive earthquake in 1931 which virtually destroyed it and killed 161 of its inhabitants. The centre and seafront of Napier was rebuilt shortly afterwards and many of the buildings retain their colourful Art Deco designs. It's one of the best preserved examples of this architectual period in existence, and wandering around the town is absolutely wonderful, even if you are an art philistine. I was collected from the airport and taken to my hotel by my good friend Joyce Seitzinger, who works at the Eastern Institute of Technology, who were also hosting the national New Zealand Applied Business Education conference. I had been invited to keynote the event and was accomodated in the best hotel in town, overlooking the seafront and the conference venue. I took a photo of the rising sun from my hotel room window the following morning and incorporated it into the title slide of my presentation, much to the delight of my audience. Related blogpost.

3) Nuremburg, Germany. It's the place you read about in all the Second World War history books. Nuremburg is famous for being the site of the Nazi war crime trials. But if the city was remembered just for that episode, it would be doing the city an injustice. Nuremburg is deep in the German region of Bavaria, and is such a charming place with its medieval castles and architecture that largley survived the allied bombing. I spent a pleasant afternoon in the warm May sunshine wandering around just sampling the atmosphere and enjoying a meal of bratwurst and potato salad, accompanied by a fine draft of the local brew. Speaking of beer - the famous Bergkirchweih beer festival in nearby Erlangen was quite a spectacle. With 11,000 seats, it is the largest beer festival in Europe. I was in Erlangen to meet with colleagues on the Concede project, and during our evening out at the beer festival I amused myself observing the antics of a local cast of thousands as they consumed large quantities of the falling down water and their collective bodily co-ordination gradually deteriorated. I stuck to drinking Radlers - the German eqivalent of shandy (beer and lemonade) just to be on the safe side. Related blogpost.

2) Auckland, New Zealand. I set foot in New Zealand in October, in the Southern Hemisphere springtime. It's just about as far away from the UK as you can get, but as I had already spent a week in Australia, I was just about acclimatised to springtime in Autumn and being 12 time zones away from my own. Auckland is the first city of New Zealand, but it's not the capital. It just behaves as if it is, sprawling for many miles across the northern tip of the North Island. I was well looked after by both my hosts (I was there to keynote the Auckland University of Technology conference) and also by my own family who live in Mount Wellington, an Auckland suburb. Highlights of my stay in Auckland were a trip to Devonport on the ferry, and the view from Mount Eden over the city. I also spent a lot of time with my cousins, second cousins, and their delightful children, who took a real shine to me. I was sorry to leave this wonderful place with its friendly people, but I will be back there again in December 2011. Related blogpost.

1) Valencia, Spain. This was my first visit to the beautiful Spanish city of Valencia, but I hope it will not be my last. I was in Valencia in June to speak at the EDEN Conference, and I was very impressed with the city. I stayed in a hotel just across the road from the stunning City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias) and made three visits during the few days I was there, because I needed time to take it all in. To say it is visually stunning is an understatement. I have already blogged about it here, so I will leave you to appreciate the picture on the left which I hope captures just a little of the futuristic grandeur of the place. I met up with several people at the conference who I had always wanted to speak to, including George Siemens, Alex Pickett and Sebastien Fiedler, whom I spent some time with. The EDEN conference was as usual, a mix of new and old, challenging and mundane, and you took your chances, but the networking opportunities were excellent, and time 'off the pitch' was time well spent.

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Comments

i think i was there with you when you took that picture in Valencia : ) lovely shot, great conference! Happy New Year!

Alex
Steve Wheeler said…
Hey Alex, yes I remember it well. We had a real blast that evening. But who was the other person with us that evening??

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