25th – 28th April 2015 saw IH Belfast hosting the International House World Organisation (IHWO) annual Directors’ Conference at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. Record numbers of delegates (over 140 delegates from 88 IH schools across 40 countries!!) descended upon the city for a conference the likes of which no-one had ever witnessed before..!
The annual IHWO Directors’ conference is a unique opportunity for International House school directors from around the globe to meet up, learn from each other and exchange ideas. IH Belfast worked together with IH World to create a programme of internal / external speakers and social events for the delegates who came from across Europe, China, Africa, North and South America, and Australasia.
Each year, the host school nominates a charity to support, for which a charity auction night is held. IH Belfast chose the outstanding Belfast Activity Centre, who work to empower disadvantaged young people in Northern Ireland. The auction was another record-breaker, with £17k coming from the sale of donated items. In an incredible act of generosity, the global CEO of Guard.me insurance donated £14k to make up an amazing £30,000 donation to the charity! Stephen Dickson, CEO of Belfast Activity Centre, said “Belfast Activity Centre was privileged to be the IH conference charity partner. The funds raised will go to support BAC’s AccessAbility programme. We can never thank Paul McMullan and his team at IH Belfast enough for supporting us in our work with young people with disabilities.” Belfast Activity Centre helped make this year’s conference particularly memorable with a variety of activities, perhaps the most impressive of which was sending ten IH Directors abseiling down the side of the 12 storey Europa hotel – definitely another first for an IH conference!
IH Belfast and T13
The conference closed with a stellar gala evening at T13 urban playground in Belfast’s historic Titanic Quarter. Bagpipes; dramatic shipyard re-enactments; awe-inspiring stunt shows from BMX and Parkour crews; abseiling and belaying; lively traditional music; Mind Reading from local Belfast Mentalist, David Meade; walking through Narnia; stunning fire and acrobatic performances and music ’til 3am all left a lasting impression on the guests!!
A record breaking event
Paul McMullan, Director of IH Belfast adds, “A record-breaking event from start to finish! Organising the conference has been an amazing experience. We wanted to challenge our delegates at every turn and I think we have done that. A conference is only ever as good as the people who attend so a big thank you to everyone for embracing Belfast and everything our city has to offer. A massive thanks to Keith and the guys at Guard.me who continue to be hugely generous with their support. Keith’s contribution helped the charity auction to raise more money than ever before… and last but not least, a big thanks to the IH Belfast team! They are the guys who set the tone for the whole event.”
Feyi Omola, International Marketing and Events Manager at IHWO comments, “We were delighted with all aspects of the conference this year, and have received lots of positive feedback already. As well as a stimulating session programme the extracurricular activities were unique and really showcased the hospitality of Belfast to our delegates.”
Here is what some of the delegates had to say.
“Many, many thanks to you and your IH Belfast team for putting on such a wonderful event. Brilliant. Belfast is a fantastic city with such lovely, friendly, fun people.
I’ll be back!”
Wendy Germann, IH Zurich-Baden
“I think that we are able to see Belfast as a vibrant, developing city which wasn’t scared to be what it is, for better or worse. It did so with humour, grace, style and a certain fearlessness. What we felt was a city which has been troubled by violence and sadness , beginning to fall back in love with itself. That, for a visitor, is an intoxicating feeling and something that’s very easy to love too.”
David Deere, IH Huelva
“What a wonderful bunch of people you are! Belfast is clearly bursting with life and potential. I really enjoyed the city and the warmth and vibrance that emanated from its people! Thanks again!”
Paul Ashe, IH Cordoba Sierra
“Such a meaningful and generous event. IH Belfast is an exemplary school with the most professional staff, and Belfast is a gorgeous city with the loveliest people! Thank you again, for every minute we enjoyed in Belfast!”
Alina Starikovich, IH Minsk
“What an amazing conference! Thanks so much to the team at IH Belfast for such wonderful experience. Everything was just perfect… a wonderful four days and I have come back to work feeling inspired and motivated!”
Elizabeth Arbuthnott, IH Madrid
“Thanks to the IH Belfast team for putting on such a fantastic conference, and showcasing Belfast in such magnificent style! I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Belfast is a fascinating place, and I will definitely be back to spend a bit more time there.”