Saturday, September 24, 2016

Eritrea 2016: Sketches of a Trip. Part IIB. A Conversation with Attorney Senai Woldeab about ICES.

Part 2

Issayas: The Conference had contracted many local businesses such as Eagle Travel Agency, the buses, the hotels, and etc. What was the evaluation of the participants and the committee about the services of the aforementioned?

Senai: Since I was in charge of communication with the presenters and some of the service providers we involved (such as Eagle Travel Agency), I was able to personally witness how the participants felt about the services of such businesses. Eagle Travel, which was our designated travel agent for the conference, for instance, offered to transport presenters who stayed at hotels which do not have shuttle services, free of charge. They received the presenters with flowers and small Asmara postcards. We had three brand new buses to transport the presenters to and from their hotels. Most of the presenters stayed at Asmara Palace; others went to Crystal Hotel, Embasoira Hotel, Sunshine Hotel and Albergo Italia. We have not received any complaints from our guests and from the hotels.


                                                               lunch buffet line at the Asmara Palace Hotel

                                                                    Traditional dinner being served at the
                                                                    Hidmona Restaurant, Expo Grounds.



Issayas: The Conference had organized a train tour and Asmara city tour. What comments did you receive from people who went on the tours?

Senai: A number of the presenters and participants already know Asmara, but have not had guided tour of the city. Asmara Heritage Project – which has been working hard to inscribe Asmara in the World Heritage List – provided us with two of its employees as our guides during the Asmara tour. More people joined us for the memorable Asmara-Nefasit tour onboard the 1920’s steam locomotive. Everybody enjoyed the tour.

Asmara historical sight seeing tour

                                                                                 a train ride to Nefasit

Issayas: There were many young people involved behind the scene at the Conference. The ushers /usherettes, the technical personnel, the note takers, the website, the logo, the video crew (every   lecture was videotaped, and so forth). Would you tell us about them? Are they students,..?

Senai: Right from the start of the idea of organizing the conference, we had determined to involve
the youth at all levels from ushering to presenting papers, from serving as reporters to being involved
in organizing the conference. The youth had a visible presence at all levels during the conference.

We invited thirty students from the eight colleges to attend the conference and get the inspiration they need. We also had conference staff (ushers and usherettes) most of whom just completed their high school classes or are in early years of their college studies. A team of five from the organizing committee took them through a selection process and we had equal number of females and males helping us as our conference staff.

They were given enough training a few days before the start of the conference. Every session had to be videotaped. We hired Audio Visual Institute of Eritrea (AVIE) to record (video and still camera) all sessions. We will also have a documentary video highlighting the conference. On top of that each presentation and the discussions on it were recorded by a team of three rapporteurs. They have now submitted their reports to us.

We will use the reports not only for documentation purposes but for communication to each presenter and interested policy makers.I cannot also forget to mention the admirable contribution of Sennay Kiflu – who just completed his law classes – designed the conference logo, the banners, the book of abstracts and the conference program.. Every piece of the products was essentially his idea. He is very imaginative.

                                                         Some of the behind- the- scene members

                                                                Members of the Organizing Committee of ICES

                                                     Senai Woldeab, Sennay Kiflu and Dr. Yonas

                                                  logo of the conference designed by Sennay Kiflu

Issayas: At ICES's website there is a section on Eritrea Research Fund. Not too many people are aware of ERF. Would you tell us about it and its relationship with ICES?

Senai: The ERF was established in 2013 to provide support research on issues related to Eritrea. The purpose is to encourage people stationed in and outside of Eritrea to conduct high-quality research related to any field of study on Eritrea. It also supports the two local academic journals, the Journal of Eritrean Studies and the Eritrean Journal of Science and Engineering.

An ad hoc committee at the National Commission for Higher Education has been managing the fund. A rigorous review process approves the research and financial proposals. Researchers must submit publishable research output also approved by reviewers of the final product. We have so far had three calls for submission of proposals and we received 126 proposals. Of these we supported 46 research projects. 21 have been complete to date. ERF is related to ICES in the sense that they are aimed at encouraging research on Eritrea. we also wanted the ICES opportunity to identify papers with potential for ERF-funding. We already have our eyes on some of the papers presented at the ICES.

Issayas: Senai, thank you for you time and the elaboration.

Senai: Thank you.

In the near future, I will provide a pictorial tour of the conference.


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