A cheery night at a Czech beerhouse, complete with singing and dancing, was one of the highlights of The English UK Fair, Prague 2013.
The party took over one of the traditionally-decorated rooms at U Fleků, a 500-year-old brewery, for a meal, lots of Czech beer, and entertainment from a local folk band - who encouraged delegates to join the singing by hitting them with wooden spoons. The bravest delegates then took to the floor for folk dancing with the band.
"Everyone was up for joining in, and the very relaxed atmosphere made it one of the best fairs we've done so far," said Roz Rozidor, international manager for English UK. "We've had some excellent feedback about the business meetings and networking, and also that all our delegates had a fantastic time."
The Prague fair was attended by 86 delegates, a mixture of English UK members and agents from 16 countries in the region, including Russia, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. They were joined by representatives from the British Council's Russian and UK offices, the UK Border Agency, English UK North, and an English UK corporate member, White House Guardianships.
The event was based at the Lindner Hotel Prague Castle, which is in the grounds of the UNESCO-protected Strahov Monastery and part of the city's famous castle. As with all of English UK's small regional fairs, the event combined a limited numbers of educators, quality agents and an inclusive programme of social events, seminars and one-to-one appointments to give delegates the best possible opportunity to get to know each other and develop long-lasting, productive business partnerships.
Delegates enjoyed a welcome reception at the Residence of the British Ambassador before moving on to a dinner at the Celeste restaurant, famous for being on the top floor of old city's few modern buildings, and also for its fantastic views of the Castle and the Little Quarter.
The first full day began with a networking breakfast and seminars tailored to the different interests of language centres and study abroad agents. Both groups came together for a talk and question and answer session presented by the UK Border Agency, before spending the rest of the day in one-to-one appointments.
Networking opportunities came that evening, spent exploring Prague. The first stop was a private guided tour of the stunning Strahov Monastery Library, used as a set in several Hollywood blockbusters including Mission Impossible. The group then boarded a historic tram for a tour of Prague before arriving at U Fleků, one of the city's oldest beer houses, where they enjoyed dinner, a folk band... and the local beer.
After a second day of appointments, the party enjoyed a farewell gala dinner in the stunning surroundings of the Great Hall at the Troja Chateau. The chateau was inspired by the great Italian villas, and the Hall, decorated with wall to ceiling frescoes, is renowned as one of the best examples of classical baroque painting.
Feedback was fantastic, with delegates praising the organisation, programme, convivial atmosphere and business networking opportunities of the fair.
"It really was one of the very best workshops I have ever attended and over 35 years, I have been to quite a few," said John Duncan from English Language Centre Bristol "The organisation was superb, the quality and focus of the agents was excellent and the venue, the social events and the fun factor were 10 out of 10."
Catherine Tucker from Sussex Downs College added that it was: "a thoroughly enjoyable experience which has facilitated many new business contacts. The social activities were well chosen and provided good opportunities for networking whilst having a lot of fun."
Study abroad agents were equally impressed. Halina Juszczyk, director of Language Abroad in Poland, said: "It was a real pleasure to be there and I found the fair very useful for personal connection with my old and new business partners. The organisation of the event was excellent and the whole treatment unforgettable." Pavel Joukovski of Delius-Terra in Belarus agreed. "This is my first English UK workshop. Compared with ICEF...British Boarding Schools Workshop, British Council workshops – excellent! Professional and busy with great communication opportunities."
Click here to view a gallery of photos on the English UK facebook page.
The next English UK Fair for the region will be held in Vienna from Monday 03 March to Thursday 06 March 2014 at the Austria Trend Hotel Savoyen Vienna. Full details and registration will go live online at www.englishukfairs.com at the end of March.