Day 14: LIYSFinale

Hello everyone and thank you for following the blog.

Well, here I am at the end. Today is the final day of LIYSF and the final day of the most incredible two week adventure I have ever been on.

Today started off with an event called the Participant’s Forum. Here, the students of LIYSF gathered in the theater and sat before some other students who posed science related controversial or otherwise debatable topics. Topics included the morals and legality of genetically altering human embryos, the effect of divesting in the fossil fuel industry, and the impact that virtual reality has on society. The morning was filled with eager students expressing their perspectives on these matters and sharing their thoughts. It was a very interesting opportunity to hear different opinions and different reasons for choosing one side. It was really a lot of fun!

Following that, we all received our final packed lunches (not upset, they were pretty bland, and that’s a pretty consistent consensus). After eating said lunches, I was invited by the clan of Aussies to assemble in front of the Royal Albert Theater for pictures. Their level of brotherhood, or even sisterhood… You know what? Let’s call it aussiehood. Their level of aussiehood is a thing to be admired. Their all so supportive of each other all the while being rowdy, vibrant, and an overall wonder to be around. Of course, more good friends of ours from countries other than Australia and New Zealand came to join us and we got so many great photos of us all looking sharp. Safe to say I love all these people here. But I should stop gushing and move on with this blog.

We gathered again in the theater, some with shirts and ties, some without, for our final plenary lecture: Science In A Changing World by Dr Jeremy Farrar. He spoke to us about world health and how quickly diseases can spread in a modern era. Spooky stuff, but it’s important to be aware of what is out there.

After the lecture, we sent MORE time in the theater. This time was for a much more saddening purpose. This was our closing ceremony. However, I went in feeling sad that this wonderful experience was coming to a close. But with the amount of collective cheering and applause we shared in those final moments, I left feeling such joy and happiness for all that has happened and all the amazing people I shared so many irreplaceable memories with.

Then came something completely new. The Australians, drawing inspiration from their previously attended National Youth Science Forum, coordinated a “Love Circle”. Approximately 50 of us gathered in Hyde Park in a circle and my friend Johann played sad music, while conducting the exercise. With everyone else’s eyes closed, members of the circle would get up, eyes open, and deliver an act of affection (handshake, shoulder pat, hug) to another member who had made a positive impact on their life. I thought I wouldn’t cry. I figured I was capable of restricting emotions. But when your eyes are closed and from out of the sad music someone’s hands find themselves firmly grasping yours, shaking them in obvious excitement and reluctantly let go, you know that someone has been personally touched by you and wants you to know. I thought I wouldn’t cry. But hell, I’ve been wrong before.

So there we all were, fifty teenagers and young adults constantly embracing one another as tears spilled from our eyes, knowing it would be a long time before we saw each other again. Looking like a bunch of hippies.

I couldn’t care less, I love these people.

The night wrapped up with our closing party. There was booze, beat, and belting as we collectively sang along to our favorite songs out of tune. Many voices were lost that night and some of my clothing was quarantined on account of the amount of sweat I put into them. A necessary cost for one hell of a good night!

For those of you at the forum who follow my blog, please know that to me you all played the most important role in LIYSF. Richard (the forum’s director) himself said that “you bring life to the forum”. And he was completely correct. Sure, without you, there were still cool historical visits, and informative lectures. But with you all, there was all that plus more. I didn’t see Stonehenge in the rain. I visited Stonehenge while the rain dropped onto the goofy faces made by me and my friends. I didn’t eat breakfast and sit through lectures. I laughed and talked at the breakfast table, as between bites of food the company of my new friends lifted the spirits of my groggy, exhausted body. And I attended lectures with these people knowing that they would ask questions I never even thought of, but would want to know the answer to. I certainly didn’t walk through the streets and parks and cheer in the Olympics by myself. I did it with all of you, my teammates, my lecture buddies, my good friends. Thank you all so much.

I didn’t attend LIYSF. WE did!

I’m going to stop gushing now, but for everyone following, know how great the forum is, and how much more wonderful the people you meet will make it.

The blog doesn’t end yet, as I’m attending the CERN programme in Paris and Geneva. So stay tuned!

Nonetheless, it’s a fond farewell to so many wonderful people.

Tears and cheers, and always wishing you all a goodnight,

Nikola T.
LIYSF 2018