I recently had the opportunity to attend the 9th HOPE Meeting in Japan, with 110 delegates. This was quite an educational and exciting opportunity. Apart from learning about the culture and people of Tokyo, which included writing in Japanese, we had the chance to interact with Nobel Laureates. Through their unwavering consistency, these researchers achieved major scientific discoveries.
They, of course, gave us lectures on their Nobel winning work, but we were also given the opportunity, in small group sessions, to have discussions with the Laureates. These included their mindset, postgraduate journey, challenges and triumphs. They highlighted their need for consistently seeking knowledge, asking and answering questions differently, as well as resolving problems. They key driver to their success was the environment they were in at every stage of their lives.
The need to create relationships with people not only assisted them in growing as individuals, but also fostered their involvement in intercontinental research.
And we had the experience of true team-work and thinking with those who can challenge you. We we placed in teams, comprising exceptional doctoral and post-doctoral students from the Asian-African-Pacific regions. WOW!!! My passion was truly galvanized by this group of individuals. All teams arrived at similar conclusions: if we don’t work together, our progress as a world will be tainted. And, if we resolve mundane or even global problems, do the people who can use these solutions have access to them? We need to create platforms that ensure that science is not restricted to formal publications, but is distributed to societies through platforms they regularly have access to.
Each delegate also had the opportunity to present their work. This was done in the form of a 60 second presentation and poster! If you haven’t done this before, you have no idea how hard it is to condense your life’s work into a single minute…The works covered ranged from chemistry to out of this world science (astronomy). I left the meeting feeling that the future is indeed bright in the hand of the young people I met there.
As we thrive to become individuals in a world full of pressures, in addition to inner drive, it is through the relationships we build that we are propelled into becoming better beings. Most of the idioms that carry us through the perils of life, mostly talk about giving rather than receiving. A Chinese adage I often reflect on speaks to “the life of a candle never getting shortened by giving light to another”. We cannot evolve as individuals and society without the aid of people that we come along in our path. On the whole, South Africa – at its best – is a true reflection of this example. Ubuntu: working together, encouraging each other and effectively bringing change to our world.