As soon as the plane’s wheels lifted from the ground, the feeling struck me with the power of a boron-enhanced fuel: LIYSF 2016 was over! Two weeks of meeting people from all around the planet, attending lectures given by world-class experts and laughing way too much. That’s LIYSF – the London International Youth Science Forum.
It’s my third time attending the science forum. I was invited to participate in 2013, without even knowing what it was. After doing a quick search on the website and finding out what I would do in those two weeks, my attitude towards LIYSF quickly changed. I was now more excited than ever. But even with all the research in the world, I could never imagine which experiences were waiting for me in the science forum. I finally got the chance to meet young people who found science as cool as me, who shared my enthusiasm about scientific discoveries. “Those were the best two weeks of my life!” I said to myself as I was returning to Portugal in 2013.
But life is unpredictable and that’s what makes life so exciting. And one of those unpredictable moments happened when I was invited to be a staff member for the 2015 edition. One of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made was to accept the invite. How could I say ‘no’ to this science forum? I didn’t exactly have the same experience as my first time there, nor I was expecting to do so. Every year is different. Every year you discover a new and intriguing area of scientific research. Every year you meet new and exciting people, sometimes from countries you’ve never even heard about. That’s what LIYSF is all about. Going there and having your expectations completely blown out of the park. Very few gatherings around the world can even be compared to this one, especially because LIYSF creates a non-competitive atmosphere.
This year I had the privilege to return as a staff member once again and, once again, one thought became clearer in my head: It’s not about seeing who’s the best scientist, it’s about sharing our love for Science and spreading our culture with people from different corners of the world. In 2013, as a young scientist who had just graduated from high school, I only had one objective ahead of me: being the best scientist I could be. In order to do that, I believed I only had to study the hardest I could and dedicate the majority of my time to Science. And that still remains true for the most part, but what I didn’t understand up until LIYSF was that chemical bonds should not be the only bonds a scientist should care about. We, as the scientists of tomorrow, should also try to establish international cooperations. It’s events like LIYSF that help create the science of tomorrow by building lifelong bonds between young scientists from all over the world.