This blog was originally posted on the Kyiv 2012 event blog, but I think it is relevant for all event profs that consider staging an event in the Ukrainian capital.
Having just returned from a preparatory trip to Kiev in the run-up to this year‘s World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum, I have collected a number of fresh impressions.
First of all, there was this special shine in the eyes of our Ukrainian friends and partners. Co-hosting the 2012 European football championship obviously had an effect on the Ukrainian people. They had the chance to show the rest of Europe their warm hospitality – and also that they are indeed able to stage an event of such magnitude.
Ukraine is Europe‘s “Terra Malecognita” – the country with the most false characterisations in media discourse, as Dr. Rory Finnin, Chair of the Cambridge Committee for Russian and East European Studies, University of Cambridge, recently expressed in an article for the Huffington Post.
It is a country that deserves to be studied in more detail, not only because of its size (46 million inhabitants!) and its strategic significance, but also because of its people.
And those people have clearly gained pride from hosting the EURO 2012 guests who enjoyed their stay in Ukraine!
“I have never seen so many visitors in Kiev at one time,” said 74-year-old Kyivan Andriy Karpar, a regular at the Olympic Stadium and the fan zone on Maidan Nezalezhnosti throughout the tournament. “It was great to see their enthusiasm for our city. Knowing that our country has made a good impression warms the soul. It was a great opportunity to show the world that we are worthy of attention.”
On another level, we met with a number of really smart young entrepreneurs in Kiev. Ukraine is very strong in the IT sector, providing lots of outsourcing and software development services to large corporations (and media houses!) from around the globe.
When we visted one company, I felt as if I were back in the days of the New Economy, with table soccer, a gaming corner, fruit bar and lots of young, ambitious people.
We have decided to open up the Official Opening ceremony of the World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum and invite some of those smart people, artists, the Ukrainian intelligentsia, and bring them together with our delegates.
Thus, the Congress and Editors Forum can give the bigger picture of the vast potential that this country offers.
Again in the words of Cambridge University’s Dr. Rory Finnin, Ukraine “will undoubtedly continue to surprise.”
You can sample a flavour in Kiev from 2-5 September – and shape the future of the newspaper industry at the same time!