Exchange to change June 2016 - Page 5

at iob In the meantime... Paris 2016 Spring time, Paris time. For a number of years, IOB has organised a visit to the French capital for its Master students, a highlight in the IOB year. A group of 34 students and 4 IOB staff – including probably the youngest IOB member ever, 2-year-old Theo – left Antwerp on 6 April 2016. A diverse academic and touristic programme awaited us. On our first day, we went straight to OECD headquarters, where we had three excellent speakers: Isabelle Meert, member of the Belgian permanent delegation to UNESCO; Raundi Halversion, Senior Adviser in the Development Co-operation Directorate; and Henri-Bernard Solignac-Lecomte, Head of the Europe, Middle East & Africa Unit at the Development Centre, all excellently organised by Phyllis Flick from the OECD Public Affairs & Communications Directorate. Together, Phyllis and the speakers provided a lot of insights into the different aspects of the OECD’s work and answered many questions. Had we had more time, we would probably still be discussing development policies and OECD activities today! We started the second day with a boat tour along the river Seine. We passed many of the top attractions of Paris, from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre museum and Notre Dame cathedral. In the afternoon, former IOB staff member Jos Vaessen welcomed us at UNESCO headquarters, which are located in the heart of Paris. After passing by some of UNESCO’s many treasures such as a Giacometti statue, we had another set of exciting and interesting presentations and discussions. Jos, now a Senior Evaluator at UNESCO, gave an overview of UNESCO and specifically its evaluation activities, while his colleague Ricardo Grassi, a former journalist, talked about his work and the many development challenges in Afghanistan. Again, time was short and the questions many. Before heading back to Antwerp, there was still some time on Friday for tourist explorations. Many students strolled through the trendy Marais neighbourhood on a guided walk, while others went to see the art collections in the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay or Centre Pompidou. There was also time to explore the city at one’s own pace. The three days went by very quickly. Not least thanks to the wonderful sunshine, we all enjoyed the trip and its rich programme. Paris is always worth a trip, all the more so with a wonderful group of people! Exchange to change June 2016 5