Day in the Life: Twinning officer
Published: 26 Sep 2014
My day usually starts at 7am with a hot shower and bowl of porridge.
One of the benefits of living in the city centre is that I enjoy a 15 minute walk to work in the morning – I take this opportunity to learn languages. I studied German at school and since the start of the year I have been learning French as well so that I can communicate with partners in Clermont-Ferrand.
Aberdeen is twinned with five cities across the world – Stavanger, Norway; Clermont-Ferrand, France; Regensburg, Germany; Gomel, Belarus, and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe – so languages are an important part of my role.
By the time I’m in the office at 8.30am, I can have a full inbox as the working day in Aberdeen’s twin cities is already well under way.
One of the things that I enjoy the most about my job is the variety of the work – no two days are ever the same. When I turn on my computer in the mornings the first thing I do is check my diary. My job can take me anywhere in Aberdeen. I work with groups and individuals from across the city to create projects with partners in Aberdeen’s twin cities.
Schools, community groups and individuals from Aberdeen can apply for grants of up to £7,000 from Aberdeen City Council’s International Twinning Grant to support projects with partners in twin cities. So I often find myself at various schools and offices across the city discussing funding opportunities, project development as well as providing visa and travel guidance.
I usually have lunch in the office. I love to cook and lunch is usually leftovers from the night before.
As well as working with groups from Aberdeen, I am often the first point of contact for international delegations when visiting Aberdeen. I work with local authorities and groups to devise programmes that showcase the best of what Aberdeen has to offer.
In the past month I have accompanied international visitors to TechFest, musicians from twin cities to the Celebrate Aberdeen Weekend and a Norwegian business delegation to the city’s outdoor markets. Visitors to Aberdeen also often meet with the Lord Provost who is a strong supporter of strengthening Aberdeen’s international links.
In the next month international visitors will be visiting DanceLive and the city’s secondary schools.
So much of this role is about promotion: of the opportunities and funding available to Aberdeen citizens to engage with and share experiences with partners in twin cities; and also of Aberdeen to international visitors as a vibrant city and a place to Invest Live Visit.
The opportunities provided by the twinning grant demonstrate a long-term commitment by Aberdeen City Council to nurturing local communities and developing international relations.
I am based within the City Events Team and work closely with the team on large events, which occasionally includes evening work.
Performers from Aberdeen’s twin cities often participate in large events contributing to a diverse event programme in the city.
Acts from two of Aberdeen’s twin cities will be entertaining local audiences at this year’s Winter Festival: Traditional Norwegian musicians will perform at the Christmas Tree Light Switch-On on Thursday, November 24 – the tree in Castlegate is a gift from Aberdeen’s twin city of Stavanger – and a traditional Bavarian Brass Band will be marching down Union Street in the annual Christmas Light Switch On Parade on Sunday, November 27. The bands will be performing at public spaces in the city during their visit and I accompany them throughout.
Festival and event organisers from external organisations can also apply to the International Twinning Grant to support their event. Funding from the grant has recently supported an exciting collaboration between Aberdeen’s Sound Festival and Musiques Demesurees in Clermont-Ferrand – the world premiere of which will be performed by the Orchestre d’Auvergne and Red Note Ensemble at the Music Hall on October 24th.
When not attending or working at evening events I like to cook, go for a run along the beach or dance at Citymoves.
Meeting with so many people from different countries also gives me itchy feet and I love to plan my next holiday whether in Scotland or abroad – I’m just back from a week-long archaeological dig in Iona and next month I’m travelling to India and Nepal.
People are usually flummoxed with my job title, but when I explain to them what my job entails they usually say “That sounds like a really enjoyable job”. And it is.