Thursday, 28 July 2016

Day 2: The Warmest Welcome That Ever Was

Today was the first full day of LIYSF 2016, and a very full day it was. We started off with the Opening Ceremony. First, Director of LIYSF Richard Myhill gave his warmest welcome, followed by LIYSF President Richard O'Kennedy. Next, Professor Romain Murenzi, the Director of UNESCO's Division of Science Policy and Capacity Building, gave the Keynote Address. Professor Murenzi has had the most interesting life, with many obstacles that could have kept him from his dream of being a scientist. However! Professor Murenzi isn't the kind of person to let anything stop him from reaching his dream, as was very clear from his life story. He was born in Rwanda but spent his childhood in Burundi as a refugee. Life and schooling was tough, but Professor Murenzi was tougher. He has been a leader in the field of applying multidimensional continuous wavelet transform to quantum physics. If you had to google that, don't worry, I definitely did!

Instead of focusing on his research, Professor Murenzi talked about overcoming challenges when the odds are all against you. He compared being a newborn baby to being a ground state electron, and all subsequent knowledge you acquire and understanding you gain, you jump up energy levels, and this energy (now stored in the minds of individuals) can be used to better our world through creative thinking and problem solving. This may be the best science metaphor I have heard. 

Can you spot the slightly blurry Canadian flag making its way down the aisle? This was such a great part of the Opening Ceremony. Flag bearers were randomly selected from each country represented, and this display emphasized just how many countries are present at the forum - 75 to be exact! 
After the Opening Ceremony we made our way to the Great Hall for introductions to all of the staff who make LIYSF possible. I walked with this group of lovely people, including Rene from Germany,  Lorenzo and Martina from Italy, and Erica from Italy.  
Martina and I! Martina and I had such a lovely conversation about life in Italy. 
After the introductions, we were free to find lunch somewhere around the Imperial. I walked through the London streets with these wonderful people: Shu from Japan (who is currently studying Engineering at Oxford), Hadass from Israel, and two lovely girls from China. As you can see from the smiles, we found a great place for lunch. We met up with a few more students at East side, a restaurant located right by Prince's Gardens. Lionel from Malaysia, Renee from Germany, Erica from Italy, and Chris from China.  

After a delicious lunch, we had a lecture by Professor Steve Cowley on "The Quest for Fusion." Even though I don't have a background in physics, this was interesting! He discussed the great potential of making and harnessing energy from fusion reactions, the power source of stars. Above, you can see the building progress of ITER, a nuclear fusion research center and experiment itself. So, why aren't we using fusion to generate all of our energy yet? Cowley pointed out two of the problems: cost and size (ITER is enormous)!

After the lecture we had the opportunity to purchase tickets for the optional excursions happening throughout our time at LIYSF. Unfortunately, the line of about 400 people took almost an hour and a half to reach the ticket table. Many people were so hungry they decided to go to dinner instead. I'm glad I persevered through the line, because line ups are one of the best places to meet people. I met Gregory and Alex from Portugal, and we discussed Portugeuse eating patterns, which was immensely entertaining as we compared meal times and sizes. They just couldn't believe that I eat dinner before 8pm!  
One of the many beautiful buildings near the Imperial. Notice all of the flags - many buildings in the area have a diverse range of flags just like this building. Also, notice the speedy cars! Thankfully cross walks are abundant. 
After dinner we had the Welcome Party at the Chelsea Old Town Hall, with one of the most beautiful interiors I have seen so far. There was music, dancing, and a lot of people guzzling water from the heat! 
Represented in this one photo is Poland, Belgium, Israel, and Malaysia!
After the Welcome Party, a group of us took a stroll through more of South Kensington. There were lights everywhere, a cool breeze, and the streets were packed with both people and cars. I met another Canadian named Alessia, four people from Cyprus, two others from Taiwan, and two from Tunisia.

After everyone realized how late it was and how early we had to get up the next morning, we made the walk back to our halls of residence, and said our goodnights. What a great day it was.

Until tomorrow,

- Vivienne 

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