Patricia Aldana--Closing

Address by Patricia Aldana at the Closing of the 32nd IBBY Congress


Dear IBBY Friends,

We have come to the end of this marvellous encounter with friends, experiences, new ideas, and of course wonderful food and lots of fun.  Once again we have come from every corner of our troubled world to learn, renew old friendships, make new ones, and above all sustain each other on our way ahead.  Those of us who are lucky enough to be here must share a sense of privilege; some of our members have been denied the right to attend this world congress devoted to children's literature.  For once again fear, prejudice, and the banal bureaucratic reflex to say no, have prevented some of our dearest friends from being with us on this occasion.  We cannot accept this outrageous discrimination – it goes against everything that IBBY stands for.  At our General Assembly you passed a resolution protesting against this unjust situation.  We hope that our existing partners and our new ones will join us in condemning the stupidity and ignorance that keeps people of such great quality and good will from joining together.

Despite this black cloud that hangs over us we have a good deal to delight in and be proud of.  Once again, I’d like to salute our colleagues who have responded so well and bravely in the face of the suffering of children.  We all salute you.  We are delighted that IBBY will soon have a project for the children of Pakistan who are facing one of the world’s worst natural disasters.

Here, I would especially like to thank our generous sponsors: the Katherine Paterson Family Foundation for supporting the Children in Crisis programme; Hideo Yamada for funding the IBBY-Yamada workshop programme; Nami Island Inc. whose support for Hans Christian Andersen Award is already enabling us to do a better job of promoting what is the most important of all children’s literature awards; the great Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun whose 20th anniversary of generosity we have celebrated this year; and the many National Sections, institutions and individuals who so generously and spontaneously have donated funds for children in crisis.

Now we turn to a very pleasurable part of the evening – acknowledging exceptional contributions made to international IBBY by four outstanding IBBY colleagues. To these friends who are with us this evening, we wish to show our deep appreciation by bestowing them with IBBY honorary memberships.

Anne Pellowski, please come up

Your work with children all over the world, especially those who have the least access to any kind of resources, and the fact that you give so much of yourself and your own resources to this work, has been inspiring to all of us in IBBY.  Among us you can truly claim to be an international citizen, working everywhere; seemingly comfortable and certainly capable in the most remote regions; and known throughout our world for your dedication and presence on the ground.  You have also been responsible for the creation of a number of IBBY sections.  You and your work represent the very best kind of international solidarity and we salute you for your long, unwavering commitment to bringing the possibility of reading to children everywhere.

Noushin Ansari, please come up

We are paying you this homage for the work you have done in Iran, leading one of the most inspiring sections through often extremely challenging times and for the influence that your work has had on so much of what we do in IBBY today. From the early days of the Children's Book Council’s existence the rigorous commitment to the highest standards of quality in children’s books never clashed with the simultaneous work done with the most marginal children in the country—refugees, the visually impaired, child prisoners, street children and victims of the terrible war.  As a moral force in the international arena, you have demonstrated a consistent ability to inspire us all. You have shown us how to lead, how to survive, and how to live with each other, no matter where we come from, regardless of the differences that may exist between our leaders at the state level. You have been a true bridge for peace.

Emilia Gallego, please come up

We are paying you this homage for your role as a great example to us all.  Few people in IBBY work in such difficult circumstances; yet you have achieved more than most of us over and over again.  The regional IBBY congresses in Cuba are events that have become obligatory for so many of us within IBBY and beyond in the Spanish and Portuguese speaking world.  Each congress has been unique—not only for what they have had to overcome to take place: 9/11, hurricanes, economic crisis, an accompanying EC meeting, etc., but also for their powerful, challenging and exciting intellectual content. To have organized even one would have been an achievement – to have organized seven is extraordinary!  And of course as an orator, there are few of us who could equal you.

Sadly one of IBBY’s greatest friends for many, many years has had to leave Santiago already: Juan de Isasa.  But I would nevertheless like to share with you a small reminder of what Juan de Isasa means to IBBY.

No other major multi-national book publisher has been so constant and committed to supporting our work as SM has been under his leadership.  From the early contributions to the IBBY Trust, his contribution to IBBY as Vice President from 1992 to 1996, his essential role in the 1994 Seville congress, his work on the IBBY Foundation Board, and for the overwhelming support given by the Fundación SM to the 2010 congress, we are deeply indebted to him.  Juan's wit, astuteness, critical spirit, good advice and most of all his underlying warmth, affection and support have made so many of us in IBBY know that in him we have that very best kind of friend – for a friend in need is a friend in deed.

We have one more award: one that is a surprise to its recipient, will Joan Glazer please join us on stage.

Dear Joan, You have been the President of the Bookbird Inc Board, ie its publisher for 11 years.  When I began in IBBY Bookbird was a constant topic of discussion at IBBY meetings—mainly due to the fact that we always needed to find a way to subsidise it.

Since you took over the magazine’s publishing – a thankless, not very glamorous but essential job – Bookbird has become financially self-sufficient and a source of pride for IBBY.  You have worked with many different editors.  You have come to all our meetings.  You never complain.  You answer all our questions without resentment.  You have been a wonder to work with.

We thank you from the bottom our hearts for keeping our magazine alive and thriving.  And we hereby award you the Jella Lepman medal in honour of the magnificent work you have done.

Thank you to all of these dear friends.

We are on the verge of launching a database of the very best Reading Promotion programmes that are going on around the world.  This innovation has been made possible by the companionship and support of our friends from IFLA and I would especially like to thank Ingrid Bon and Ivanka Stricevic for what has proved to be a wonderful relationship.

I will also take this opportunity to welcome our newest section to be established: the United Arab Emirates and also a warm welcome back IBBY Kuwait.  We are sorry to lose IBBY Albania, but look forward to when we can welcome them back in the not too distant future.

The time has come to warmly thank our Conference Organisers: Maria Jesus Gil and Ana Cendan of OEPLI who have worked above and beyond what anyone had the right to expect; the congress executive committee in Galicia: Marilar Aleixandre, Manuel Bragado, Manuel Figueiras and Xavier Senin who together with Henrike Fesefeldt the congress chairperson, have been an active and committed team making the impossible possible.  In spite of the current financial crisis and the many obstacles this event faced, they have produced an exceptional congress for us.  We want to thank them all from the bottom of our hearts.  I hope that the success of this gathering makes you feel that all the endless hours of meetings and hard work were truly worthwhile.  We have no doubt that it was.  Thank you again.

Would María Jesus and Henrike please come up to receive these tokens of our deepest esteem for what you have managed to do so well and in such a short time.

I would like to sincerely thank the congress patrons: Xunta de Galicia, Ministerio de Cultura, Fundación SM, and the Concello de Santiago de Compostela.  The sponsors: Consorcio de Santiago, Ámbito Cultural, Asociación de Editores Gallegos, Editorial Juventud, Grupo SM, Edelvives, Edebe, Everest, Fundación Germán Sánchez Ruipérez, Cedro, Santillana, Kalandraka and Nami Island Inc. Thank you all for your support and belief in the IBBY mission to bring children and books together.

Now I would like to turn to our other thank yous.

First and above all else I would like to thank our extraordinarily dedicated staff, Liz Page and Forest Zhang.  I am sad to announce that Forest will be leaving us shortly in order to get married and move to France.  As for Liz……. Our deepest thanks, respect and affection.

Next I would like to thank the outgoing executive committee – which has been so hard working and so effective.  This EC has made so much possible while at the same time been harmonious, dedicated and exceptionally constructive.  They have given useful advice at every turn and supported not only our secretariat, but also me through what have not always been easy times.  I’d like to take this moment to sincerely thank all the members of the EC from both of my terms of office: from 2006 to today.  I’d especially like to thank Elda Nogueira who has twice represented me on the Andersen Award jury and did a far better job than I ever would have.

Will Reina Duarte, Anastasia Arkhipova, Hannelore Daubert, Wally de Doncker, Jehan Helou, James Tumusiime and Mingzhou Zhang please come up.  Will Redza Ahmad Khairuddin and Zohreh Ghaeni, please join us as well.  Two of our outgoing members are unfortunately unable to join us today: Elisa Bonilla and Nikki Gamble.  I would like to ask representatives of IBBY Mexico and IBBY UK to accept these small tokens of our gratitude on their behalf.  (gifts and diplomas for outgoing EC)

Let me end by saying how important and wonderful it has been for me to be your president for the past four years.  This has been an exceptional time in my life.  I have made so many new friends and of course heavily relied on old ones.  And I’ve been treated so well by you all around the world and had so much fun and shared a lot of laughter as well as a few tears and rages.   You are doing such truly important things, so well and with so little financial support and in many cases with insufficient acknowledgement.  It was an honour to work with you.  And it will be an honour to join our IBBY Foundation board to work on finding enough funds to help you continue all this work, as well as to bring IBBY the visibility it deserves.

Now I’d like to invite our new IBBY President Ahmad Redza Ahmad Khairuddin back up to the stage. Redza, I wish you the very best for the coming years.  It is a big job and I can’t imagine anyone better able to carry it out at this moment in the history of our organization and of this difficult world than you.  We are so lucky to have you. Thank you.


Santiago de Compostela, 12 September 2010