Kashif Ali is a second year student in biotechnology
LIYSF, I wonder what these five letters mean to a non LIYSFer. I imagine they assume that it is just five randomly scattered letters; well that is what I assumed it was before participating in LIYSF 2016.
LIYSF stands for London International Youth Science Forum, which takes place over two weeks in the heart of London in Imperial College London. For these two weeks the forum each year welcomes the brightest minds from all four corners of the globe (I mean this literally!!) because at LIYSF 2016, the 59th edition of the forum there were 75 different countries represented by around 580 students. The theme of LIYSF 2016 was Great Scientific Discoveries. I along with a fellow science student in DCU were lucky enough to have been selected as Ireland’s delegates in the forum.
The Forum kicked off with the opening ceremony on the 28th of July, where I was privileged enough to carry the Irish flag, without a doubt the proudest moment of my life. In the opening ceremony the key note address was given by Professor Romain Murenzi from UNESCO and the President’s note by Professor Richard O’Kennedy of DCU.
The forum schedule was filled with amazing Principal Lectures and demonstrations, which truly achieved the theme of LIYSF 2016 as these lectures seek to dissect the process of scientific discovery from the eureka moment through to the widest, successful scientific developments. Also in the schedule at LIYSF are specialist lectures, which were an amazing opportunity for majority of students at LYISF to experience their chosen lectures in different fields of sciences, sciences in which they may wish to purse their further education. Most of the delegates were pre-college (High school) age and therefore the specialist lectures helped them find an area of science that they found most intriguing before choosing a course in university. For me, however, the situation was a little bit different. The specialist lectures allowed me to see the great research that is being conducting in the Biotech industry currently and the kind of research work I may be conducting in future and so these specialist lectures definitely reassured me that the field of science that I am pursuing my future in is one for me.
It is not only the full, rich and varied programme with incredible lectures, speakers and visits to incredible lecture departments around the UK that made LIYSF great but rather the great diversity and engaging social programme. The diversity at LIYSF was evident to me when somewhere in the middle of the fortnight I found myself having lunch at a table with a Mexican girl, a Spanish boy, a Kuwaiti boy and a Cypriot girl. That’s the beauty of LIYSF: interacting with as many different cultural backgrounds as there are people around you. Everyone I met at the forum had a completely different view on current global issues, while at the same time, sharing the same love for science as I do. That made me acknowledge how important it is to accept and embrace the baffling diversity our planet possesses, because it is only by welcoming everyone’s point of view that we can evolve as species.
My personal favourite moment of the forum came when I was asked by the Pakistani delegates to perform a traditional dance with them in the International Cabaret, which was a cultural showcase performance evening. It is these kind of moments that only LIYSF can offer that will live forever live in my memory. LIYSF changed my point of view because it is not about seeing who’s the best scientist but rather sharing our love for science and spreading our culture with people from all corners of the world. LIYSF is about communication as much as it is about science. By attending the Forum my views on matters of the world have changed in a way I would’ve never imagined but I guess that’s the beauty of this forum. LIYSF only outlined how important international collaborations are in this day and age. As Henry Ford once said ‘’Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success,’’ LIYSF brought us together now it’s our responsibility to stay together and work together to change the science of tomorrow. The only dull moment over the fortnight came when the plane’s wheels lifted from the ground and the feeling that LIYSF 2016 was over struck me with the power of a boron-enhanced fuel.