The first time Maike Elverfeldt came across the International Science Olympiads was in 2015 when she became involved in the organisation of the International Physics Olympiad. Maike was not aware of how challenging the organisation of such an event is and was impressed by the enthusiasm and ambition of the participating students. So, when she was offered the opportunity to become a member of the Organising Committee of the IChO 2023 in Zurich, she took the chance.
The first time I came across the International Science Olympiads was in 2015 when I became involved in the organisation of the International Physics Olympiad. I was not aware of how complex and challenging the organisation of such an event is and was impressed by the enthusiasm, ambition and willpower of the participating students. So, when I was offered the opportunity to become a member of the Organising Committee of the IChO 2023 in Zurich, I took the chance. Events come in various shapes and forms and the underlying processes are similar every time. However, not one event is the same and this is especially true for IChO. As event organisers, we face numerous tasks (and obstacles) to ensure that our events run smoothly and meet the needs of all participants. “Finding Solutions” is our daily business. As I am responsible for accommodation and catering, let's take a closer look at these areas and what I am doing in the team.
Selecting and booking suitable accommodations for students and mentors is one of the biggest challenges in event management. Various factors need to be considered, such as the number of participants, budget constraints, the proximity of accommodations to the event venue, and availability during the desired timeframe. Additionally, we must ensure that the chosen accommodations meet the standards and expectations of the participants to guarantee their satisfaction. I am happy to say that with the Crowne Plaza hotel for the mentors and the aja hotel for the students we have very nice hotels, but more importantly partners that join us in our search for the best and sometimes very creative solutions.
Providing adequate catering during an event is another challenge. We must take into account not only the participants' tastes and preferences but also any dietary requirements, allergies, or other restrictions. Moreover, we need to ensure that there is enough food and beverages for all attendees and that meals are served promptly, that a variety of food is offered and that you can taste a bit of Switzerland as well. So be prepared to sample some of the typical Swiss dishes - and yes, there will be some Swiss chocolate…
To overcome some of the challenges and to be ready for the delegations’ arrival in July, it requires teamwork and good partnerships, matching our “Togetherness” approach. Add a bit of creativity and problem-solving, flexibility and adaptability as well as attention to detail and organisational skills, and you have the skill-set required to organise an event like IChO.
A very important topic for us as IChO organising committee is sustainability. So, we seek to pursue sustainable approaches, find creative solutions and integrate the approach of "reduce, reuse, recycle" into our event organisation wherever possible. In this way, our guests will also be able to make a positive contribution. Be curious to see how small measures can make a big difference.
I am very much looking forward to welcoming all of our guests in Switzerland, to showcase ETH, Zurich and Switzerland and all the beauty it has to offer.