The International Computer and Communications (ICC) Camp this year was held in Riga, a beautiful city in the heart of Latvia. We were lucky enough to have several opportunities to visit the city for sightseeing and gift buying. The majority of the trip was spent at the Riga School for the Blind taking part in workshops which ranged from computer activities to dance, music, cooking and goalball workshops.
Our UK team of staff and volunteers delivered three workshops that covered networking, goalball and clock making. The networking workshop lasted for one and a half days and was compulsory for all attendees. The total number of participants was 77 from 17 different European countries and Japan. Goalball was ever popular and always busy. The clock making workshop was a huge success and meant that the young people at the camp all had the chance to make a souvenir of their visit to Riga.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn the night before we flew from Stansted Airport so that everyone had the chance to meet each other. An early night was followed by a 3am start. Some slept, others tossed and turned wondering what the next 10 days were going to hold. At 3am we arose and made our way to reception to wait for our shuttle bus. Already friendships were developing and it was going to be an interesting and inspiring experience. Stansted Airport was packed but we had assistance to get through the check-in, passport control and onto the Ryanair plane. Our journey had begun…
On arrival at Riga Airport our watches moved on two hours to local time. Riga Airport is the smallest airport we have ever seen. Passport control was smaller than a school hall and the luggage claim area not as big as a goalball court. Hot Latvian sun greeted us. We were collected and taken by bus to our new home. We travelled for 20 minutes passing through the town of Riga over impressive bridges, past decorated churches and old beautiful buildings. We arrived at the Strazdumuiza Residential School and Training Centre for Blind and Partially Sighted Children in Riga. A lovely building with big corridors, high ceilings, helpful staff and students who were going to be our hosts. We were one of the first countries to arrive so we had chance to unpack, make our beds, locate the water fountain, canteen and meeting hall and catch up on some sleep. We orientated ourselves with the school which was quite tricky at first although we all soon got used to it.
We met wonderful people and have been inspired by the stories and determination to succeed. The young people were burning the candle at both ends. The last night was a presentation night where each group entertained the rest of us with stories and showed off their many skills and talents. We all felt quite tearful saying goodbye to everyone. Again we witnessed young people exchanging contact details and I am sure there have been many lifelong friendships formed.