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Published: January 4th 2022
Note Durres on Adriatic Sea south and west of the capital of Tirane - you see it spelled with an 'a' also, so Tirana
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As you have probably figured out, these travel blogs are a way for Bernard and me to keep track of our adventures. I can't tell you how many times we've referred to one of our over 70 travel blogs looking for various details, maps, dates, etc. That said, feel free to enjoy the photos and just skim or ignore the text.
Pictet Edition 36, December 4 - 11, 2021 in Durres, Albania
Off to a good start - our Health Officer, Hennele from Finland, who was with us the entire week, tested all participants and staff for COVID - all
Notice the Roman amphitheater in the middle of the city.
negative!! At that point, Saturday afternoon, we were still missing two teams from Pakistan (total to be 18 teams of 3 persons each), which Hennele tested upon arrival. We wore masks at all times, except for meals, of course.
As I was assisting Hennele with the COVID rapid tests on Saturday, I was chatting with the students and was happy to hear that a good many of them had at least 2 vaccination shots. The participants reminded me that many of them live in extended family groups with grandparents, for example, and they took protecting them from COVID seriously. Several expressed that they thought it important to protect society in general and didn’t understand the anti-vaxx mentality. Hear, hear!
NOTE: we had no teams from North America at this session; we had teams from Asia, South America and Africa, and one team from Europe.
Because of COVID the 2021 - 22 Pictet competitions (2 in 2021; 3 in 2022) were/will be very different. Edition 35 was also held in Durres, Albania in March, 2021 - our normal time. Thirty teams attending that competition. Edition 36 in December is what I'm writing
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Our hotel for the week.
about now. There will be a competition in Mexico in February, 2022 and yet another competition held in Albania in March, 2022 - no idea what size that will be as the Omicron COVID variant is complicating things as I type.
So, what is Pictet:
The Jean-Pictet Competition is a training event in international humanitarian law (IHL) for students (law, political science, military academies, professional institutes) taking part in the competition in teams of three.
The 48 selected teams, usually from the five continents, receive remote training in IHL. They then meet for one week in a place that changes every year (Albania this year, Bali last year and France the year before that), for the competition itself. They compete in the context of simulations and role plays built around a fictitious armed conflict. Teams and support staff play the role of actors in armed conflicts (military, humanitarian workers, political officers, lawyers) in a context larger and richer than the sole judiciary context. Teams benefit from the support of tutors in tests where they are assessed by the jury. All tests are oral - no written part is required.
Typically it is a dual French and English speaking competition, but English speakers only compete against English speakers and French against French speakers.
Recently there have been so many English-speaking teams applying, that an English-only competition was added. In Bali last year we did one English-French and one English-only, so a double session with a one-week break in between.
Bernard has acted as a juror since 2009 and I’ve been working as an administrative assistant to the overall coordinator of the competition, Christophe, since 2012. There are **
approximately 43 staff members and 144 students. The competition coordinators, support staff and volunteers have become good friends, so every year it is like a family reunion. **
The number of teams varies and can change at the last minute because of all sorts of reasons - getting visas is always an issue. This year the English-French edition in Albania in April had 30 teams, but because of the COVID variants, the second English-only session $ the one I'm writing about now) had only 18. We had representatives from only four continents as there were no North American teams. Typically
Hennele, from Norway, was with us for the week. She tested everyone twice for COVID
we have three or four American teams and just as many Canadian teams. NOTE
: While all participants had COVID tests before traveling, we took COVID tests twice in the Pictet week; once on Saturday, and another on Tuesday. The Tuesday test was to make sure nobody had picked up anything while traveling. A third test at the end of the week was given for the return flights. This one was conducted by an official Albanian lab as official certificates were required for travel. The lab came to us at the hotel to do the tests, then sent the results back to us electronically, as well as emailing Christophe all the results. Christophe printed them out as an added precaution. All tests were negative. Hooray!
The week went smoothly and despite rain many days, our Field Test day was sunny. All Pictet weeks follow the same pattern: except for the Field Test day, all other ‘tests’ take place indoors - in front of a jury/judges. In the Field Tests numerous, in this case six, stations are set up to test the participants in many areas: humanitarian assistance, prisoner of war and refugee issues, the issue
Schedule for the Week
All of the competitions, no matter where in the world they take place, follow the same schedule
of legitimate bombing targets - you get the idea.
On Thursday the semi-finalist are named; Friday morning more test for those teams; Friday afternoon the 2 finalists teams are named. Later in the afternoon the final takes place (with everyone watching). That evening at the closing ceremony, the winner is announced. For the 36th Edition of the Jean-Pictet Competition, the team from Kenya won.
Normally Friday night after a farewell dinner is a big party night, and this was no exception - music, dancing, I’m sure too much drinking.
One of the reasons Bernard and I keep volunteering with Pictet is, not only is it a wonderful organization with incredibly dedicated and devoted people, but after such a week our faith in mankind in general, and in today's youth in particular, is restored. Spending a week with such motivated, smart, energetic and delightful young people is an elixir. We come away high on optimism for the future.
Saturday morning everybody heads out in different directions. We to travel into Montenegro, Kosovo, and then back into Albania. There will be a blog about that, of course.
German Red Cross
The German Red Cross sponsors Bernard to act as a juror/judge in the Pictet competition and he is very grateful
We have volunteered to work the competition in Cuernavaca, Mexico February 26 - March 4; didn't plan any extra time in Mexico this trip; got trip insurance or the first time. If COVID is raging, we'll likely cancel. But hopefully that won't happen and we'll have another delightful week with amazing people.
We hope 2022 finds you all happy and healthy.
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