Bericht 2014 Anna Bot

Dear Sirs and Madams,

Returning from Israel left a hole within me; after an entire month packed with unique experiences, sitting at home and slowly easing back into daily routine feels odd. There is an incredible amount of reasons why I am intensely grateful for your support of the ISSI and I would like to highlight a few.

One predominant reason for applying for the program was the scientific part. I expected to come in touch with the way a postgraduate or doctor would work and think. Indeed, the project I was assigned to did not disappoint me in that respect but opened up an entire field of mathematics, the Lie algebras. Working in a group of three and being taught and supervised by a mentor was challenging and equally rewarding. There is one memory that shows clearly the joy of mathematics: Jared, one of the students on my project, and I were pondering on the solution of a problem all morning. We knew that only one link was missing and that we were very close. Queuing up for lunch, all of a sudden, I realise how we could use the Kronecker delta, turn to him and hastily explain. It worked flawlessly and we both felt the excitement of having persevered and reached the solution. It was thrilling.

As it would turn out, the impact the social interactions had on me was far greater than I had expected. Before I left, people would tell me that I would have an exceptionally great time with the other students, but I dismissed it, since I could not imagine how close we would get. There are countless memories of new friendships made, which was especially gratifying, because we all shared a common interest and were from many different countries. We also shared a persistent lack of sleep after the first night, since no one wanted to miss out on the long conversations. Once, on the trip to the North, I did not sleep the entire night because together with Roy, a student from America, I talked throughout the whole night. There really was no time when the participants would not try and sit together in the clubhouse or play ping pong outside, watch a film or explore Rehovot.

The trips were an integral part of the summer camp, with the week spent in the desert being the most memorable. Beautiful hikes, looking for scorpions in the night, having stunning views on the desert or Eilat, climbing Massada or sleeping under the stars made the week unforgettable. One of my favourite memories from there is the night that we slept under the stars, since before we went to bed, we hiked a little bit and then lay down. Then, our guide, Rei, who was not just knowledgeable but also very friendly and quickly an important part of the group, showed us the different constellations with a beam while we were lying down in the still warm sand.

Obviously, as you surely have read and heard in the news, the conflict between Israel and Hamas escalated while we resided at the Institute. It was probably in the second week that the first of many rocket sirens started, but in spite of the scary situations, I never felt unsafe. The staff took care of us and made sure we were fine throughout the entire month. Regardless of the special situation, I would like to commend the staff for having been both helpful and fun to be around. They also showed us the best way of dealing with the situation: carry on living. This is starkly illustrated by memory of the evening at the president's house, where his speech was interrupted by the sound of sirens. We stayed in the safest place in the house and despite everyone being nervous and unsettled, we decided to go forward with the planned musical performance. It was a special moment when everyone joined in to sing Hallelujah that I will not forget.

I hope that although this is nowhere near an accurate description of the summer camp, it has given you a sense of what it was like for us during July 2014. I'd like to thank you so much for your support and hope you will continue making such experiences possible for future students.

Yours faithfully,

Anna Bot


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