ISSF 2018 Student Committee Co-President, and IMSA Senior, Claudia Zhu shares her thoughts on what ISSF means to her. “To me, ISSF is a platform for passionate students to share their ideas and collaborate with students of a similar caliber from around the world.”
I landed in Osaka, Japan for my first international science fair on a cloudy day in November at 6 pm 2016. Bleary-eyed and cramped from the 17-hour flight, I wandered around the airport staring at the Japanese McDonald’s menu and rotary sushi venues that populated the small airport. My eyes widened when I saw the toilets equipped with a seat warmer, speaker, and bidet with three different functions. It hadn’t hit me that I was on an island nation some 6000 miles from home. It hadn’t hit me that I was in a nation of different people. But it’s the little details about Japan that remind me I’m there.
Later that day, the representatives from Ritsumeikan (our host high school) found us and *officially* welcomed us to Japan. He leads us to a bus of students from around the world. I turned to the person across from me. I love talking to people.
“So, where are you from?”
“England,” he said. He stared at me.
I blanked. I love talking to and listening to the stories of those around me, but I’m kind of awkward in conversation and occasionally have no idea what to say even though I want to talk. England… England… I thought.
His face soured and then broke into a smile.
“Where would you like me to start?”
He was the first of many different and fascinating people at ISSF2016. I’m still in contact with some of these people and they never cease to surprise me with twists of culture and new information.
I met someone who loved to adventure as much as I did. We roamed around campus stargazing and (unintentionally) running through giant sheets of cobwebs. She let me try on her Bhāntānlan and I taught her how to Cupid Shuffle. We talked about how we could use my mathematical analysis to aid her research on earthquake-resilient structures.
Some of the people I met were interested in math, others medicine, some of them were serious, others more relaxed, some of them quiet and others loud, but everyone was passionate about their research and their projects. It was so refreshing to talk to people who all had diverse interests but we’re extremely knowledgeable about their interests.
So when you ask me, “Why are you involved in ISSF?” The International Student Science Fair means far more to me than just a conference for high schoolers from around the world to present their research projects and stories. It even means more to me than finding lifelong friends who welcomed me to their homes when I visit their country. To me, ISSF is a platform for passionate students to share their ideas and collaborate with students of a similar caliber from around the world.
I think that the gem of IMSA’s ISSF is the programming centered around three of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), clean water, zero hunger, and clean and affordable energy. The programming challenges you to come up with innovative solutions to some of the biggest and most pressing matters in the world. And the goal is not for you to develop groundbreaking solutions in a matter of hours (I mean that would be awesome, but we must be realistic as people have been trying to solve these problems for years) but rather to inform you of the importance of these issues and to inspire your collaboration with people from around the world.
So when you come to ISSF this year, I really urge you to talk to as many people as you can because everyone’s really cool once you find out what really makes them tick. Be open and share the authentic YOU. Try new things, new foods, new experiences, and new people. And finally, please, don’t just come to ISSF to present your research project.
Come to ISSF ready to learn, to innovate, to listen, and most of all, to collaborate.
See you guys in June 🙂 Love,
Clauds IMSA ’18