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Category: Looking Ahead Honors

Awarded to the team who makes a special effort to coordinate their event schedule in advance and plan ahead for potentially challenging months or seasons.


2017 Winners: Jaime D. Medina and Catalina Calin in Shanghai

2017 Honorable Mention: Marcela Alfaro and Ibsen Avila in Panama City


Why They Won

When searching for the recipients to win 2017’s Looking Ahead Honors, the Global Awards Jury selected our most organized individuals and teams. These teams do whatever it takes to ensure that all events take place throughout the year, no matter what! If a team cannot host an event (due to personal schedule conflicts, holidays, or otherwise), they outsource the work to a strong team of temporary hosts and volunteers to keep the events up and running.

Most impressively, our nominees plan and outline their event schedule for many months. The nominees take certain months into special consideration where it might be a challenge to find a good date, and keep an eye on public holidays, local special events, and their own vacation plans, to avoid any disruptions in the event schedule. Our nominees also plan ahead for seasonal dips where participation can vary, such as the “summer dip” months and December where many expats leave for holiday to visit loved ones.

This was a tough category, but one of 2017’s jury members makes the case for the Shanghai team’s win:

“Jaime and Catalina plan extremely far in advance: at the end of October 2017 they had already entered all of the dates for their 2018 events into our shared event planning table They also make sure to have their upcoming events published at least a month in advance, so that the other Ambassadors and the Consuls can plan their events and activities around them. Even during China's Golden Week, a very busy time in Shanghai, they make sure to host both their monthly events by planning carefully in advance.”

How much in advance do you plan your events and what tool do you use to keep track of them?

Shanghai Team: We pre-select venues every six months based on the news about upcoming hotels and bars, and we start talking to them around three months in advance of the event date. For brand new venues we are really strict and keep a backup plan all the time just in case the conditions/quality doesn’t match our expectations. For long-term venue clients, we have fast track procedures to simplify the process. All this information is synced via iCloud and Dropbox so each of us can add venues, photos, contacts, and be totally updated on the status of each venue and negotiation. The master calendar is handled together with InterNations HQ and internally we have additional tools to track details on the same period of the previous years (number of attendees, weather conditions, etc.). Based on all this we can tell our 200th event as Ambassadors will occur at the end of May this year.


What steps do you take to maintain two monthly events despite holidays, summer vacations, and other scheduling conflicts that come up?

Shanghai Team: Summer vacations? What is that? Haha! Between November and December, we prepare a detailed schedule for the upcoming year, fixing the dates for the first six months. Later, around March, we fix the calendar for the second part of the year. All this is decided based on the public holiday schedule and our personal holidays that we usually take in December and January. We take full advantage of the months with more than four weeks to arrange the events and avoid scheduling them during a public holiday or a long weekend.


Do you ask for help (backup hosts or other volunteers) to keep the events going even when you are unavailable?

Shanghai Team: We have a reception team (3–4 volunteers and a photographer) who are fully trained to run the events even if we can’t attend on time, (but that has never been required). Usually we manage to adjust our work and personal schedules to be on time at the events. If anyone of us is busy, traveling, or sick, the team takes over extra tasks to balance this.


Congratulations to Jaime and Catalina, 2017’s winners for the Looking Ahead Honors, as well as our honorable mentions, Marcela Alfaro and Ibsen Avila in Panama City, for leading communities where InterNations members can trust that the “show will go on”, no matter what.


About the Winners:

Jaime and Catalina are a married couple! They joined our Ambassador team in 2010 in Beijing and moved their event-planning-and-hosting powerhouse to Shanghai in 2016. Jaime Medina hails originally from Bogota, Colombia, and has resided in China since 2008. He is an architect, interior designer and mojito expert. Catalina Calin is a fashion designer from Romania. She has been in China since 2009 and is the owner of a school that welcomes any person interested in makeup, fashion, and style.

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