AILA 2011 was a very interesting cultural experience. The organisation was uniquely Chinese, and I think we will all remember the orange T-shirts of the ever helpful and cheerful volunteers. The highlight of the congress was a photo montage of the events of the week, set to music, played out at the closing ceremony!
AILA 2011 also saw the first awarding of the AILA-Multilingual Matters solidarity awards, which enabled two AILA delegates to travel to this year’s congress. There will be further awards at forthcoming AILA congresses, and we will soon be announcing the details of our AILA-Multilingual Matters library awards.
One of the parts of the job that I love the most, is selling the books we publish directly, and talking to our authors and customers in person. In China we sell through our import partners, and so I found it a little difficult to stop myself from bartering and offering discounts in the manner that I normally do at the book exhibits. But it was great to watch our importers sell so many books, and even more encouraging to see many local Chinese delegates who I have not met before browsing and purchasing the books. And I had many interesting conversations at the stand, and was proud to be able to hand deliver a hot off the presses copy of “Discourse, Identity and China’s Internal Migration” to a happy author.
I travelled to Beijing via my grandfather’s village in rural Finland, which believe it or not is almost directly en-route from the UK. The contrast was quite mind-boggling! I have never seen so many cars and such traffic as I have in Beijing. But the modern metro system makes the city quite easy to navigate, and everywhere I walked I found people helpful and willing to communicate even if we did not share a common language.
I can’t wait for my next chance to visit China and continue growing the friendships and working relationships that we have developed.