- Anna Harris
- Sabrina Wurzba
- Robert Lepenies
- Eva Alisic
- more to come…
Arriving at a GYA AGM is like no other conference. First, you are highly likely to be either sitting next to a GYA member on the plane, bumping into them when collecting your luggage or sharing a taxi/bus ride from the airport. Here some of the most fascinating (and at times life-changing) conversations you would have had all year start. And they will not stop! Registration is not a formal “queuing for badge and bag” affair but abuzz with exciting new introductions and maybe even a familiar face or two. The first sessions are not to be missed if you can help it, the ball is rolling. Mealtimes are for eating, dancing, games, connections, collaborations and plotting new ventures. By the end you will have forgotten all about email and other everyday work, and only be opening your calendar to plan meet-ups, calls and of course, the next AGM, with your GYA friends.
GYA is a school where we are all at different stages of learning and we all seek to evolve and become better professionals so that we can have a positive impact on our society… Being able to attend in person at the AGM makes all the difference because we no longer feel isolated when we are able to meet people all over the world (in the same place) with purposes similar to ours.
Interactions are not as spontaneous with remote meetings. There are no water cooler chats or spur-of-the-moment lunch gatherings. It can be tricky to comprehend communication in media like Zoom and Teams. After all, tone can be notoriously tough to decipher online. The opportunity to attend the AGM in person and interact, discuss and make decisions together is a unique experience that all members should live at least once.
I remember putting together a puzzle with 1000 pieces (with the faces of our GYA’s fellow members). We were all “new members” wanting to make a difference and contribute with the Academy, but asking how we could do it. The presence of the alumni, new and fellow members associated with the active environment favored the connection and helped us to better understand GYA. We felt like part of a big family, a circle of support that we could count on during that journey as a fellowship. This experience was essential to maintain my motivation and inspired me to pursue further steps in my career giving me the courage and attitude to take global action in my research field.
Attending a GYA meeting in person is unlike anything you have done or will ever do in your career. Attend. Block it on your calendar. Pretend you’re invisible to anyone demanding your time during the agm days. Skip anything that can be skipped. Interculturality, brilliance, making friends from around the world, connecting to brilliant scientists, young and old. Do it.
It’s a bizarre idea that it was 10 years ago that I joined the GYA. Really enriched and changed my life in so many ways!
The power of the GYA is really in the in-person meeting. The buzz when you’re in the same room together is what starts great collaborations and impact on the real world. While online exchanges have been super helpful in the past few years, they pale in comparison to the face-to-face experience: when do you get to have 100+ friends from all over the world together to work on meaningful and creative projects?!