Wetskills Kerala 2019 – By Xiaoxuan Zhao and Csilla Bekker –
On the last day of the Wetskills program we had to give our pitches at the Conference on Maritime and Water Development held in Kochi. As we were staying in Fort Kochi we needed to arrange transport to the Hyatt Hotel in Kochi where this event was held. Fortunately we could hire a small boat that directly took us to the venue, starting the day with a boat trip in our smart dresses. Great fun!
We arrived just on time and at the back door of this fancy place, so it felt a bit like sneaking in. Once already there we had our first real coffees of these two weeks and could join the opening ceremony. After some interesting morning sessions we were provided with an extended buffet lunch, which we all really appreciated. Some of the pitchers had a last repetition and we went back to the great Conference Hall.
Once there, we took some group photo’s with the podium and the Dutch Water Ambassador Henk Ovink. The pitches were given in an accidental order, giving us the last thrills of these exciting period together. At this time we were feeling so connected that there was no real competition about who should win, we were all just appreciating each other’s work. Luckily, because we still had to wait another couple of hours to hear the results. But with the end of the pitches the real closure came as well and we were starting to feel sad about our last hours together as a group. One of the pitchers had to leave immediately after her duty and so we had to start our goodbyes.
The rest of the afternoon we attended other sessions of water professionals and taken the bus afterwards to Fort Kochi where we had a dinner with the Dutch business delegation. We had some nice time conversing with them and enjoyed a great dinner. After dinner the results of our competition were announced. The winning case was the team with the youngest pitcher, propagating the empowerment of women. As besides that all the pitchers were women we had the feeling we were really succeeding on this topic.
This was also the moment for the Dutch participants to say goodbye to Madam Sunitha from JDT, who gave us a lovely welcome and stay, so we tried to hug her tight enough to feel our appreciation. We were trying to postpone saying last goodbyes and went for some drinks with the group. It was another fun time together but eventually some of us had to leave and we got a bit emotional as well.
A part of the group spent the last night together in our shared hostel, trying to hold on to the last hours. But everything comes to an end. Even faster when there is a lot of fun involved. And we had great times together: getting to know each other and each other’s cultures and forging solutions from our different perspectives!
These lovely people and the lovely state of Kerala will always stay in my heart and I think I could say this on behalf of the whole group. See you next time at a Wetskills reunion!