2.50am. hours of hardwork (one night choinging i admit) beautifully concludes my ASC 2013 journey.
Asian Science Camp 2013: *Official* Post-trip Report
From the inspirational opening addresses encouraging us to seize this singular opportunity and make full use of our time in camp; to the final farewell party which capped off our shared experiences with a flourish; the Asian Science Camp was a truly memorable experience.
The Asian Science Camp was unforgettable in many aspects – academically, inspirationally, emotionally, and culturally.
Lectures and camps were the main mediums of learning, and dominated the bulk of our time during the camp. Lectures were conducted by specially chosen leaders of the camp, in a large-group setting. These lectures were mainly thought-provoking and left unanswered mysteries and questions for us, the future generation, to solve. For example, in Professor Hitoshi Murayama’s lecture on “Introduction to Cosmology”, he talked about the enigmatic dark matter and dark energy, and encouraged us to continue researching this field to unravel these secrets and advance mankind’s knowledge. Although the speakers were from diverse fields – ranging from Biology and Chemistry, to Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy – a common thread connected them. All the speakers were pioneers in their respective fields, having led the development of unique ideas or processes. This avant-garde spirit showed in their credentials – most speakers were either Nobel Laureates or prominent luminaries.
Above and beyond the academic knowledge I learnt, what I thought exceptionally meaningful, was that the lectures also focused on the foundational values needed in the pursuit of Science, and the journey as a scientist. For example, Dr Ada E. Yonath’s lecture talked about “The Fruits of Curiosity”, while Dr Yuan T. Lee’s lecture gave us insights into “My Life as a Chemist”. Not everyone may grow up to pursue the specific field of research mentioned during the lectures. However, all budding scientists should embrace and embody certain values – like curiosity, perseverance, and humility – as well as have an understanding of the challenge and rewards of embarking on Science as a career.
As a complement to lectures, camps were conducted in small groups, where we could interact with these speakers and ask questions. Certain lecturers also took this opportunity to speak about topics they were passionate about, which were outside their research field. For example, Dr Yuan T. Lee spoke about the “Importance of Sustainable Human Development” and the need to conserve our only home, Earth, and develop new alternative technologies. He is a strong advocate in this field, and encouraged us to always consider environmental impacts. These camps were also valuable in allowing us to experience hands-on learning. For example, Dr Motoko Kotani, who spoke about “Discrete Geometric Analysis and its applications to Materials Science” in her lecture, allowed us to self-explore the key concept of ‘least energy pathways’ via experimenting with soap films. We could ask her any questions that surfaced as a result of the experimentation too. Together, the lectures and camps worked hand-in-hand to facilitate our learning in this camp.
The strong friendships forged amongst the delegates (still lasting strong through Facebook and email) were another beautiful takeaway from this camp. Learning, working and having fun together drew us all closer, and knitted the fabric of our experiences. Everyone unanimously brought to this camp an open, honest spirit, where cultures were freely shared, and sensitivities carefully looked after. This spirit, which should definitely be encouraged in all future camps, allowed everyone to take part fairly and benefit most by learning from each other. These international friendships built will undoubtedly serve as a platform for our scientific endeavours in the future – where we can tap on everybody’s expertise to do something great for humanity. This is especially important in a world where multi-disciplinary science holds the key to the future advances (Biology, Physics and applied technology to build prosthetic limbs, for example).
Finally, the cultural exposure gleaned from everyday interaction, the excursions and the farewell party’s cultural exchange, was indeed a great learning experience. Not only did I gain a better understanding of their cultures, I also realised that many of us in Asia have shared values, which can provide a basis of our interactions. For example, most of the camp participants – whether they were pre-university students, or already pursuing a university major – were extremely diligent in their work, with many willing to pour in time and effort to get a job well done. Most enjoyed striving for excellence, and held integrity close to their hearts and regarded friendly competition as essential to growth – something also present in Singaporeans. It was interesting to note that these shared values are not just Singapore-wide, but also Asia-wide!
To quote my team’s poster: this 5-day camp may have ended, but as promising youths, our lives ahead are just beginning. And with the new friendships forged and experiences gained, the journey ahead is bound to be exciting.