Bericht 2019 Elia Weber

How many places in the world exist where three young people from three different continents can go for a hike, and casually start a conversation about epigenetics?

When I first heard about the ISSI I could hardly believe such a program existed let alone that I would be a participant one day. Even a month after coming back from Israel part of me still can’t believe it.

When I heard about my project assignment, I was extremely excited, but I had no Idea just how much I would love working on it. Our mentor, Yana, explained everything we did in great detail and really let us participate in lab work. Before I came to the Weizmann, running a PCR was about the most exciting thing I had done in the Lab. Using a confocal microscope, running an LC-MS, or doing agroinfiltration was simply overwhelming. Seeing how much I enjoyed myself, Yana offered me to spend more time in the Lab. I ended up staying longer almost every single day.

I remember being told that “all doors are open” at the Weizmann by almost everyone I met that had ever been there, but I did not truly understand until I experienced it myself.
It took no more than a curious glance and people would start to explain their projects.
Thanks to this, I ended up learning about much more than just what I was working on.

One of the first things that comes to my mind when I think about the ISSI is the night we spent in the desert. It was near the end of the camp, all of us were fairly sleep-deprived, and we knew we had to get up at 4:00 am, to hike up to Masada, so the sensible option would have been to go to sleep. However, Josua, Tal and I decided to stay up. We lay on our backs, feeling the warm desert rocks beneath us that had stored the scorching heat of the day and looked at the clear sky. We counted shooting stars and talked quietly until it was time to leave for the hike. When we walked back to grab our backpacks, we even saw a desert fox, disappearing into the dark without making a sound.
We hadn’t exchanged more than a few sentences before that night, but by the end of it we were true friends.

However, it was not just the Lab work or the trips that made the ISSI so special to me, but small things like casual conversations about physics while swimming in the pool or trying to imitate each other’s accents and learning more about different cultures.
We stayed up late almost every night, playing games, or talking, until we started to doze off. By the end of the summer camp all of us had become very close.

When I will have finished school next summer, I’m going to travel for about half a year, and hopefully visit as many of my friends from the ISSI as possible. I also hope to go back to the Weizmann Institute during my gap year and I’m currently looking into the visiting students program the Weizmann offers.

I would like to thank the Swiss Society of Friends of the Weizmann Institute and everyone involved in the ISSI, especially my great mentor Yana who opened a whole new world to me in plant science.

Kind regards,

Elia Weber

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