One World Week returns for 2010

One World Week (OWW) is as much an institution of Warwick University as Top B, or, dare I say it, our dearly beloved Boar. Due to celebrate its fifteenth anniversary next term, it seems appropriate to prime our collective awareness once more, in advance of the monolith that is OWW. As fortune would have it, the journalist’s severe lack of time this week has coupled with an equally lacking knowledge of the subject matter; rather than another biased Boar op-ed slamming the mother of Warwick’s ‘Weeks’, we have instead an interview with the horse’s mouth.

I spoke to Pavlos Yeorgaroudakis, and Kristijan Stamatovic, the two coordinators carrying the torch on into 2010. A night of much drink and little sleep detracted from the quality of the journalist’s questioning, but I provide a mostly-direct transcript below. Read and learn about the Week to end all Weeks:

**Chris:** This is the 15th anniversary of OWW, is there going to be anything in the week’s program to mark the special nature of this year’s OWW?

**Kristijan:** The event will be special in itself; we are working really hard to make this the best one so far. The launch party for externals will be held in the name of our 15th anniversary, but there will not be any dedicated event to the anniversary. Like we said however, we will do our best to make it the best one!

**C:** How will you be coping with the rebuild. I remember some of the stuff was in the Piazza last year. Will any of it be in the Copper Rooms for example?

**Pavlos:** It has been a concern for us as we are planning the use of the atrium for Days, Sports and Arts without having the venue itself. The union has been very helpful by showing us impressions and taking us on tour inside, however we still are worried about how we will use the space at the end of the day. All of our night’s events will be held as per usual in the Copper Rooms, and days will be having various activities there.

**C:** I understand you have around 250 student volunteers. Does this still make you the largest student run event in the country? With such a monolithic organisational structure, how long in advance do the preparations for OWW begin? Any time left for your degrees?

**K:** It has been called the largest student run event in the world. While we cannot claim we have the most volunteers working for the event, we can almost certainly say that we have the largest number of people involved and taking part in the week. Estimates suggest more than 16,000 people in total attend our events. Given OWW’s breath, length and depth, we are positive this places us right on top of the world.

**P:** Preparations begin two weeks after OWW has ended. As for time with our degrees… it certainly requires us to pull some late nights in the library and a lot of understanding from our friends.

As an organisation we had a complete change from previous years. One World Week had outgrown its infrastructure (technical) and management practices, which were not able to cope with the volume of people organising it and the time constraints. This year we have outsourced most of our online intranet to Google and we are now able to do most of our work online. Work that had to be done previously in SU North can now be done online! Apart from that, due to its size OWW has to maintain a hierarchical structure and execs have been given complete control of their events this year. This also meant investing a lot of time and effort in recruitment to be able to attract the best people to work for OWW… and it has certainly paid off!

**C: **For a lot of people, Forum is perhaps the highlight of OWW. Last year I remember some of the forum events being moved into S0.21 during the Gaza Solidarity Sit-in. It was a magical time. Are you able to tell the Boar a little bit about what range of subjects the talks will be on this year?

**K:** Topics this year are as follows: Civil Liberties, Eastern Europe in limbo, Deforestation, Global political disenchantment, development in post financial crisis (not their full official titles.) We have a range of special speakers lined up – prepare to be surprised in January.

**P:** We have also planned a World Lecture this year which promises to add a completely different dimension to our forum events!

**C:** Last year only 1/3 of your members were home students. Given the ratio of home students to international students at the Uni, do you see this disproportionately high involvement of international students as a positive thing, or something to be changed?

**P:** Last year’s coordinators put a lot of effort to change the perception that OWW is mainly for international students. We were very pleased this year to see an increase in the number of home students being involved.

**C:** Some people accuse OWW of being a bit superficial, or somehow missing the point; being a bit ‘Disneyland’. What would you say to those detractors?

**K:** We don’t think it’s superficial – it is exactly what it claims to be: a celebration of culture. There are so many ways one can do so, but none of the attempts are superficial. Hey, if I can learn at least one thing about another culture, I haven’t come across before, in one week, the event has already justified its existence. This is something unique to Warwick – few other universities can offer such a thing. It’s also meant to be a fun event, so being compared to Disneyland… we are flattered!!

**C:** More personally, what made you originally want to get involved, how long have you been part of the OWW movement, and what has been your favourite part of OWW to date. What are you most looking forward to?

**P:** I thought of it as a challenge… I really enjoyed OWW in my first year and then decided to apply for Finance Officer in my second year. My favourite part is the execution of the event, seeing all that hard work pay off at the end of the day is very satisfying. What am I most looking forward to? The long sleep I am going to have after OWW!

**K:** It was a challenge for me as well – I wonder when in the future will I be able to oversee the work of over 200 people. I certainly hope it will be as enjoyable and fun as it has been so far in OWW. I am looking forward to the 22nd of January!!

**C:** If you had the power, what direction would you like to see OWW take in the future?

**K:** We strongly hope OWW will grow beyond campus, attract outside -home and international – attention, and attract as many outside visitors as possible. This was our vision when we assumed our roles and have committed ourselves to fulfilling it. Great attempts that have a lot of potential in the future have been put forward. To name but a few the One World Lecture, Bust a move, internationally famous DJs and of course intelligent external marketing and PR.

**C:** And finally the financial stuff: where do you get your sponsorship from?

**K:** From a variety of corporate and non/corporate sources. Without them, it would not be possible to put up such large event and we thank all of our sponsors for their support.

**C:** How big is the budget?

**P:** Our budgets are big enough for us to be able to run our event smoothly. Unfortunately it still needs to grow in order for us to be able to reach our full potential in terms of artists, speakers and being able to subsidise external students to come visit.


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