Lais’s Story

Participating in the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) was undoubtedly the most enriching experience of my life. It’s challenging to imagine a more enlightening summer program to have been a part of during my high school years because it nurtured my personal growth like no other event could match. Being surrounded by fellow Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) enthusiasts from 84 different countries who were of a similar age was an incredible experience. The context of LIYSF provided the perfect environment for us to interact socially, resulting in significant interpersonal growth. Additionally, the opportunity to present my project at the science bazaar, sharing my work with students, staff, and professionals, and even being selected to present to the entire event audience, pushed my intrapersonal and linguistic skills to new heights. In conclusion, the exchange of ideas and knowledge-sharing among students, along with the insightful lectures we attended, significantly expanded my logical and scientific knowledge. LIYSF was a truly transformative experience, and I will forever cherish the memories and the knowledge I gained.


Diversity was, for sure, one of the key highlights at LIYSF, as it enhanced my interpersonal skills and cultural knowledge. On the very first day, I was honored with the role of carrying the Brazilian flag at the opening ceremony, which gave me the perfect opportunity to have a little taste of the diversity of all the countries at LIYSF. Despite a tiring day before, I easily woke up the following morning, excited about the experiences that lay ahead. As I left my shared dormitory with my neighbor, who happened to be my first international friend, my eyes were met with a vibrant array of distinctive dresses, each representing a different country. We strolled together to our first ever breakfast at LIYSF: a group of unfamiliar faces trading diverse insights while enjoying a common meal. Only during breakfast time, I got to know at least 10 different countries – I was shocked with all the unique names I’ve heard that were out of my social bubble. When we arrived at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), they welcomed us with a flag ceremony and gave us some tips on how to handle our flags properly. During the practice session, I ended up standing really close to the representative from Canada, who was right behind me. We got to chatting about our countries’ traditions, and somehow, we even dived into a conversation about physics! However, what amazed me the most was to hear that she loves making Brazilian chocolate “brigadeiro,” which she learned from her Brazilian classmates because it’s both simple and delicious. After the practice, we were directed to a waiting room, where I tried to strike up conversations and take selfies with as many of the other country representatives as I could. It turned out to be a blast: I made some genuine friendships that stuck with me right until the very last day of the program.



This and many other remarkable experiences at LIYSF, such as the traditions of Home Night, truly underscored the importance of diversity. What struck me most was how it pushed me far out of my comfort zone. I made a conscious effort to understand the unique accents and cultures around me, which was both challenging and eye-opening. Being in such a diverse environment broadened my mind to traditions, customs, and living conditions that I had never encountered back in my home country. It also boosted my confidence in social interactions, thanks to the outgoing nature of most teenagers. However, perhaps the most significant change was how it heightened my empathy. I realized I could relate to many of the people I met, despite our differences, serving as a reminder that deep down, we all share a common humanity.



As a passionate STEM researcher, the science bazaar, in addition to the diversity, was the main fuel to my sparking interest at LIYSF, thus holding a crucial role as a cornerstone to my experience. Skipping ahead to the third day, as my Brazilian friends and I were preparing to set up our stands, we encountered a humorous mishap: our posters got trapped in a tightly sealed tube we had brought along. We spent quite some time attempting to open it, even resorting to lightly smacking it in our frustration. Things became a bit desperate when it wouldn’t budge, but eventually, after some jumping, we managed to loosen it enough to remove the cover. Some of the staff found our struggle amusing, and it turned into a memorable and comical moment. Once we were all set up, I decided to explore some of the projects and ended up forming some really close friendships. When the setup time concluded, I returned to my stand and began presenting to curious visitors, many of whom were my friends! Everything was going smoothly until the judge arrived, and I started feeling nervous. Fortunately, he was quite relaxed and enthusiastic, which helped me calm down, and my presentation became highly interactive. He praised my project and then asked if I would be comfortable presenting it to the audience, to which I enthusiastically replied, “Yes!”. Later that day, I found out my project was chosen to present to the entire event, which made me really excited.


The night before my presentation, after a tiring day, my roommate sat with me to help practice my speech. She had a timer, a bossy and determined look, and was ready to make my script shine. We went through it a few times, she made some helpful suggestions, and by the time we went to bed, we had almost nailed it. The next day, my counselor, another big cheerleader of mine, not only assisted me with practice for the big night but also provided emotional support, making me feel well-prepared. I can’t really put into words how much their assistance meant to me. They were my top 1 supporters all along. As I arrived at RGS with my fellow young scientists to receive instructions, it seemed like time was crawling by. After discussing our anxiety at dinner, we returned to RGS for the big event. As we took our seats at the front, lined up in the order of our presentations, I watched as each speaker ahead of me took their turn. With each passing presentation, my anxiety grew in a steep slope. Presenting for the first time to such a large audience, and in a second language, with students from 84 top-tier countries, only increased my nervousness. When it was finally my turn, I walked to the stage trembling. Yet, when I caught sight of my Brazilian buddies in the crowd, waving the Brazilian flag and cheering me on, I received a shot of confidence, and it got me into my presentation with a burst of enthusiasm. I’ll admit, though, my nervousness didn’t completely vanish: during my talk, I goofed up. But here’s the twist: instead of cringing or feeling embarrassed, some folks in the audience started chuckling, and I couldn’t help but join in. Suddenly, the whole vibe became more relaxed and friendly. When I finished, everyone in the room burst into applause. Although I was still a bit worried about that mistake, many people came up afterward to congratulate me, which really boosted my spirits. This experience taught me a significant lesson: mistakes are a part of life, and if you can laugh them off, what might have seemed like a disaster at first turns into a great memory.


Although a daunting prospect, delivering a lecture to such a massive audience turned out to be incredibly fulfilling. I’m certain that I experienced substantial personal growth by taking on this challenge. Presenting a project I had created to a global audience on a stage, in a fun and interactive manner, significantly boosted my confidence and improved my emotional intelligence. Moreover, explaining my work to people from diverse backgrounds at the science bazaar had a profound impact on my social skills, enhancing qualities like charisma, and my linguistic abilities, refining aspects like diction. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity that LIYSF provided me with.


In addition to the enriching experiences I’ve mentioned, there were many others that left a lasting impact on me in various ways. The lectures, in particular, were incredibly important, because I learned a lot from them. Some of these lectures solidified my confidence in the career path I’ve chosen, which is technology. In addition to presenting my project on stage, I delightfully delivered the votes of thanks three times. This not only pushed me beyond my comfort zone but also provided me with an opportunity to express my appreciation to the lecturers for sharing their incredible knowledge.

In summary, LIYSF was truly a once in a lifetime experience. The international friendships I forged, the whole gamut of knowledge I gained, and the personal growth I underwent are all irreplaceable. I distinctly recall one of the lecturers mentioning that he had participated in LIYSF many years ago, and it still ranks among his top five experiences. Hearing this endorsement from a successful gentleman certainly deepens my appreciation for the opportunity I was granted.


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