World Congress – Amsterdam 2017 – A first timers experience

written by – Samantha Paterson, JCI Edinburgh Projects Director 2017

I booked Amsterdam at the beginning of 2017, I knew I wanted to go and wanted to get an early bird rate and start to save my money.  Having a World Congress in Europe was such a great opportunity, I couldn’t believe it when the day finally came.

A few of us from JCI Edinburgh travelled out a couple of days before the Congress to tour Amsterdam and visit some of the sights, it was my first time in Holland. We did a tour on the Canal boat and was lucky as the sun was shining.  We made sure we registered on the Sunday before kick-off and picked up our passes and gift bag.

Day 1 of the conference unfortunately I couldn’t go to the First Timers session as I was booked into Insights training.  Before going to Amsterdam I was asked to complete a questionnaire about myself, this was analysed and a personal profile was produced. It was very interesting session about how we work together in a team and with others around us, and to think of people who may be your opposite.  To say it was pretty accurate is an understatement! Very interesting reading!

I then met the others for lunch to show them my profile, we were in a large tent next to conference centre and it was an opportunity to catch up with others in Scotland and meet new people, I was sat at a table with past world presidents of JCI which was very interesting! I then went to a session on being a World Class Manager and heard from a Senior Director in HSBC bank about his career and how he manages his team.  It gave me some great ideas to take back to my job at home.

That afternoon our team in JCI Scotland went back to the hotel to get changed into our kilts and JCI Scotland shirts and go back to the conference centre for the opening ceremony.  This is very exciting, I loved the high energy atmosphere where everyone cheers on their National President and is so excited for the week ahead.  We had our saltires waving and was cheering Amanda when she walked down the orange carpet!! We then went for some dinner and drinks before the party really got started, there was a brilliant band and we danced to the early hours.  Everyone is so excited for the week and love to party!!




Day 2 I managed to get up and out early to attend the Morning show.  This is where everyone gathers early and gets pumped up for the day ahead.  There was an interesting speaker about World Clean Up day and the speakers gave away some free t-shirts for everyone to catch.  I then stumbled into an excellent session on social innovation.  Another session I wanted to do was full, so on my way to another session I walked past social innovation and was curious.  This is the great aspect of World Congress there is so many to choose from, I was interested to know what it would be covering so I sat down.  It was probably the best training I did during the week.  We practiced taking an issue and problem, where there are no right and wrong answers but to brainstorm answers with mind maps and a set formula, the trainer set an egg timer so you didn’t procrastinate and kept flowing with ideas.  We were to choose a solution and build a prototype to speak to people for their thoughts and views.  It was fantastic training and emphasised that it’s important to speak to stakeholders and gather views when looking for an innovated idea for social problems.   Later that evening we hit the town in Amsterdam.  Estonia were hosting a party in a nightclub and everyone dressed in White!!


Day 3

We had to get up nice and sharp (which was not easy!) and got to hear an inspirational key note speech from Kofi Annan “Good leaders listen and good leaders follow” he also talked about how important it is that young people make their voices heard by using their vote, that people across the world have died and fought for their right, leaders have to listen when young people vote for what they believe.

After a much needed nap it was time to hit the best party of the week – Global Village!  Everyone had been talking about Global Village and how it was the best party… they were right it was brilliant!  Every country has a market stall where they have samples of food and their national drink for everyone at World Congress to try.  It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about other countries culture and of course, taste their national drink.  Let’s just say it was an experience, and within 45 minutes I was having the BEST TIME!!  The DJ soon got the party really started and we partied until the early hours!

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Day 4

Back to the conference first thing!  Let’s just say I was not jumping out of bed eager to get to my first training but I wanted to make sure I took every opportunity.  There was a course on developing a Growth strategy for our local organisation, it was very useful to hear how local organisations around the world grow their chamber and gave me some ideas to bring back to Edinburgh.   I made it a quiet evening that night, others in the group attended the Japan night.  It’s a bit like Global Village but all about Japan culture.

Day 5

The final day we had a lie in and took in some of the sights of Amsterdam.  There was a very exciting final session which was a social enterprise competition and two Scottish Organisations were competing, the best bit was one of the Scottish organisations won!! Brewgooder, Through selling Brewgooder lager will provide clean drinking water for communities in Africa.

That evening we got our best clobber on, had some pre-party drinks and made our way to the President inauguration and the Gala Party!  It was brilliant to watch the new President receive his Chain then party with everyone at the Congress for the final night.

My first International JCI experience was brilliant! It really did show me the fantastic opportunities  that being part of JCI brings. I made some great new friends from the other side of the world and got some fantastic expert training.  JCI really do throw some excellent party nights! I can’t wait to go to my next conference with JCI!