In 2005, after the 55th annual meeting of the Nobel laureates, the two Asian Nobel laureates Professor Yuan T Lee and Professor Masatoshi Koshiba co proposed that an annual event should be organized to promote science in the region of Asian countries and also to nurture friendship and cooperation amongst the younger generation of scientists in Asia. And this idea led to the annual Asian science camp.
The first ASC was held in 2007 in China and thereafter it was held annually in various countries belonging to Asia.
This year, the ASC was held in Thailand for the 9th consecutive year.
And I was really fortunate to participate in the 9th Asian Science Camp as a delegate representing Sri Lanka. Well, I was not alone. I was accompanied by four other colleagues namely our very own FOS media blogger Rusiru Gambeera, Sanjaya Ariyawansa, Noushin Zubair and Ornella Joseph.
The Science Camp was held from the 2nd of August to the 8th at the Convention Center and Sirindhorn Science Home at the Thailand Science Park, National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA).
The venue was located in Pathum Thani which was 30km away from the city of Bangkok.
From the moment we stepped foot in Thailand, we noticed the country glowed in purple to celebrate the auspicious occasion of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s fifth cycle or 60th birthday anniversary.
And the opening ceremony of the ASC was graciously presided over by Her Royal Highness in celebration of her birthday.
The six days which followed the opening ceremony were hectic with the tight schedule of plenary lectures, camps and discussions, but very enjoyable and interesting at the same time.
The lectures and the camps were conducted by Nobel laureates and a field medalist covering the streams of biology, chemistry, physics and Mathematics.
I should say, the most memorable moments of the lectures to me, were, to witness the opening plenary lecture by Professor Hitoshi Murayama from Japan who did an amazing lecture on the Origin of the Universe through the eyes of Cosmology, the lecture by Professor Ada Yonath who won the Nobel prize for her work in proteomics, on the structure and the function of the ribosome, and last but not least the lecture by Professor Robert Huber who won the Nobel Prize for developing crystallography techniques to define the structure of photosynthesis enzyme in purple bacteria.
Proteomics being one of my favorite branches of biology, meeting these two great Nobel laureates who worked for the development of the field of proteomics and listening to their lectures inspired me alot.
Leaving the academic programs aside, there were a lot of fun activities which were really entertaining. We had various Thai cultural activities which involved learning Thai kick boxing, preparing Thai desserts, making Thai flower garlands and even traditional Thai Indigo dyeing.
We were taken on an exciting excursion to visit the ancient ruins of Ayuthya, the Bang Pa In royal Palace and the Ayuthya Floating Market.
we got to work with other delegates during the poster competition which was a great experience as well.
Though unexpected, we were able to win the gold award and the student’s popular vote award for the poster we prepared.
Meeting new friends from twenty eight different countries, getting to know them, learning to greet in different languages, getting used to the amazing thai cuisine are just very few enjoyable things we came across during the week we spent at the ASC.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the week spent at the NSTDA was the most memorable week and the most amazing week I have spent in my 23 years of life.
Being my first overseas tour all on my own, I should say I was very nervous, but Thailand really lives up to their slogan, Land of smiles. They were so friendly and made us feel at home.
At the end of the seven days spent, 258 students from 28 countries have become one family and it was a bitter sweet moment to leave them and to return to Sri Lanka.