Friday, 7 June 2013

The Accidental Diplomat - Day 4 - The Conference

After only an hour of sleep and some serious jet lag after the double city jump it was time to get up and prepare for the conference. Luckily Perm was experiencing the White Night which meant that the sun rose very early and made 6am (1am GMT) feel more like 10am.
Once registration was over there was enough time for a coffee and a mingle with some of the other attendees before I headed over to the venue for my discussion. However, the event did not quite go as I had expected.
I took my seat in the audience on the front row so that I would have easy access to the microphone and could stand up if needed. I was just looking over my speech when one of the organisers came up and asked me why I was sat in the audience when I was meant to be on the panel representing Great Britain. This somewhat through me but it was too late to protest. Next thing I knew I was on the panel for the discussion along side five other people (all native Russian speakers) who were all very high up in their respected organisations. Oh and the event was chaired by the Russian equivalent of Philip Schofield, and was televised.
Eventually my turn to speak came and I decided to give it my best shot and pray their were no follow up questions. There was one but it was about the definition of 'proper Russian' which I was able to draw a parallel to 'Queen's English' and explain the differences to regional English.
(Image - Me on the panel discussion)

As it was a bit early in the day to begin drinking I decided to go and recover with coffee and biscuits, while doing so the chair of the debate, Sergei Brulov, came up to me and chat a had in English. He apologised for being a bit hard with the questions, asked me where I learned Russian language, jokingly accused me of working for MI6 and told me that clearly I would go far. All very encouraging things to hear!
(Image - Me with Sergei Brulov)

After lunch it was time for my fellow delegate to speak on behalf of Great Britain in the international round table that was linked up to countries as far west as Iceland and as far east as Japan. It was truly an amazing experience! It was then time for a drinks reception with the Governor of Perm and some time in the sun enjoying some Russian vodka.
(Image - Me with the Governor of Perm)

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