by Olivia Dunnett – JCI Edinburgh President 2017

I have never written a blog post before and not sure what a blog post should be like but I have decided to write a short “post” on my time at my first European Conference.

Even though I have been part of JCI for almost 5 years, this year it was time for me to experience what a European Conference was all about. I have heard numerous things about them such as great networking and building an international network for life. Great training and keynotes that help you take new skills and ideas away to help you build yourself. Take part in Debating and Public Speaking competitions against all the other European countries to try and take home the trophy and a ton more!

So many things jam packed into a 4 day conference!

After watching most of the previous European conferences over Facebook, I was so excited to be heading to Finland last year for European Conference but…my flights got cancelled due to a strike!  So 2016 wasn’t meant to be and I had to wait another year…

So 23rd May approached and off I went to Basel, Switzerland for the European Conference 2017…and what do you know, it was everything everyone said about it and much much more!

My main goals for this conference included networking, training, gain even more knowledge about JCI on a bigger scale, find out what other chapters across Europe and further afield are up to to spark ideas and bring back to our chapter to start doing even more great work.

Over the 4 days I attended 3 of the official JCI courses on Leadership and communication, several other training sessions on conflict management and how to tell when someone is lying (yes, I am now an expert 😉 ). I watched part of the debating competitions, attended the JCI Morning show which certainly does wake you up after the party the night before! An Escape room challenge where this had an extra challenge for me as all of my team were German speaking so I had to work with them and complete the challenges knowing no German! Luckily in the 35 minutes of being locked in the room we nearly got there, we completed 11 out 12! Thankfully the Effective Communication training came in handy! I also attended some great keynotes which were very inspiring.

After every day of back to back trainings and sessions you do have a lot of party nights and a very good opportunity to get networking with everyone from all the other chapters! I had about 1500 people to meet and catch up with at this conference!

JCI Scotland at Opening Night and Gala Dinner Night

Opening ceremony and welcome night was a fantastic kick start to the conference and each night after had a theme! Soccer Party, 70’s Party then it was the final evening, The Gala Dinner and Awards ceremony followed by a Farewell Masquerade Ball held by next years conference team – JCI Latvia then an afterparty.

I wont go on and on, detail by detail on what I did but what I have taken away from attending this conference on a personal level is so many new connections, well not just connections but friends. Learned a lot about myself in terms of where I am in my own career and where I want to get to. I have more ideas on what I want to do through JCI also.

I have left with a lot of new skills through the training that I can start applying as of today. I have came away with a shift in mindset and more positivity on getting things done and to make a difference. This is the real gem of JCI, you continue to get things out of it the more you put it!

Being a member of JCI I feel an exceptionally lucky person as every opportunity is open to you for the taking and all you have to do is get involved.

Another great part of being there not just as a member but as Local President this year is looking at what we are doing now through JCI Edinburgh and what more there is to do this year, next year and all the rest. I certainly have loads of ideas on building and growing our chapter.

It was also great to see my other delegates get stuck in and involved. Our youngest member and a first time attendee, attended European Development Academy before the conference. He threw himself into trainings and keynotes and got the opportunity to present at General Assembly with his group from the Academy. It was great to watch someone grow so quickly in 4 days!

JCI Edinburgh member Cameron presenting at GA

Its all very well people reading this to get a short summary of what European Conference is like and find out what I have taken away from it but you really have to attend to find out for yourselves and I encourage you to do so as its such an incredible experience and buzz you get from it. It will open up a lot of opportunities for you.

I certainly had a slight sad feeling having to leave as I met the most amazing people and had such an incredible time. My first European Conference will certainly stay with me forever.

I am very much looking forward to our World Congress in Amsterdam in November. If you want to attend then drop me an email and we will get you booked up and make sure we are all in the same hotel so you aren’t alone and help you out! Il be a first timer at that one also!!

Hope you enjoyed reading and hopefully see many more JCI Scotland members in Amsterdam!! :)