Bericht 2018 Kai Stewart
International Summer Science Institute 2018 I’ve always been a big fan of Israel, whether it’s because of its interesting history or its fascinating culture. Growing up my father would tell me amazing stories of the time he spent living in Israel. So naturally, once I heard of the International Summer Science Institution and the opportunity they give to a selection of students, my interest was sparked. After speaking briefly with a friend who attended ISSI in 2016, I knew I wanted to go. From that point on, that was my main goal in school, to get good enough marks to get the opportunity to be a part of something so special.
Naturally I was ecstatic, when I was informed that I was one of the 73 students from all around the world that got accepted. My expectations were very high as I knew that this would be one of the best months in my life. Normally, when you go into something with such high expectations, you walk out of it feeling disappointed, because nothing can live up to the unrealistic standards you built up in your mind. This was different. Not only did this experience meet my expectations, it completely blew them out of the water. It was without a doubt the best month of my life - I learnt so much from the incredible people I met in Israel, whether it’s was the staff, my amazing mentor or my peers, all of which I consider lifelong friends now.
During our four weeks stay at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot no moment was unused, no time wasted. During the week our mentor would guide my lab partners, Elina and Gean, and me through the various assignments and projects we would complete during our time there. Together we mainly explored the mechanisms of the iron transport from mother to fetus. To do so we had to use various techniques and machines, which we all knew from theory, but to put that theory into practice and see it in action, was very interesting. After a long day at the lab, we would return to our youth village, where we would either attend an interesting lecture by one of the professors at the institute, work on other, smaller projects we were assigned to, or partake in one of the various social activities they had planned for us. These included for example an Israeli Falafel night with a dance party, the chance to perform our various talents in front of the President of Weizmann Institute or evening trips to Tel Aviv and Rehovot. Even after those interesting, but very long days we would stay in the center of the youth village or in our clubhouse to play games or simply to talk. Whether it was about science or any other topic, these talks, that lasted long into the night and well past our bedtime, are one of my fondest memories of the month. The resulting state of sleep deprivation was just another thing we bonded over. But the majority of the most memorable moments happened on the weekend excursion all across Israel. Exploring the amazing countryside, culture and history of Israel, is an experience by itself, but doing so with so many bright young people is a memory I will always cherish. We travelled all over the country, from the Galilee over Jerusalem to the Negev desert. We got to see Haifa and the Bahai Gardens, partake in a Druze feast, visit Yad Vashem, experience Jerusalem’s Old City and traditional markets, visit the desert and look at an unobscured night sky, go snorkeling at a coral beach near Eilat and go swimming in the Dead Sea. The hikes we went on in the Galilee and in the desert perfectly demonstrated the diverse landscape of Israel. During all the excursion we had multiple discussions and lectures that taught us more about Israel’s history and gave us all a deeper understanding of the Palestine-Israel conflict and Judaism as a whole.
At the end there was a real sense of community which is why saying good-bye was incredibly hard. Hardly anybody slept in the last 24 hours, as everybody wanted to maximize the spent with one another. We were brought together as strangers by our mutual curiosity and love for science, and are separating as, hopefully, lifelong friends. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that this was an unforgettable summer.
I want to thank the Weizmann Institute and Swiss Society of Friends of the Weizmann Institute for giving me and my fellow Swiss ISSI alumni this opportunity and allowing us to have the experience of a lifetime.