Many questioned me when I told them I would be attending LIYSF, and the only answer I had for all of them was, “I don’t know, maybe it will be fun.” My Name is Kisaja Rivenaka Malkith Hewa Waduge and I’m from Sri Lanka.
This program completely flipped my life upside down. I’m sure that when I look back at the program in my elderly years I will definitely say that this is what changed my life for the good. I was then 16 and not sure what adventure called life I would take. I was interested in studying in the field of science but science is a broad field so I mainly came into this forum, to narrow down my selections and gain experience in the adventure of life. As soon as I entered through the doors of my hall of residence, my life took a sharp turn.
My LIYSF experience was a strange one, a conflict of emotion, you could say. But it gave me an everlasting confidence and a feel of studying aboard. This program changed the person I was, I first made friends so I would not feel left out, but soon I embraced it and grew to like it. This was because I could be my true self with them.
The lectures were out of this world, literally and metaphorically. The experiences I gained in this adventure aren’t relatable through words. At every lecture, visit or social program I discovered a new part of me that I never knew of. I have to admit, I was homesick for the first couple of days but my new-found friends and the staff of LIYSF especially my hall host Emmanuel and my buddy Victoria fought the battle for me and soon LIYSF was starting to look like home and even better, (sorry mum and dad) due to the immense bonds that started to form within me and the other participants.
One of the most interesting visits was to the University of Leicester, Space Research Centre and the National Space Academy. This was one of the out of this world lectures, my mind was blown away by the immense work they do. One of the lectures which was held in the University talked about the Mars Curiosity Rover and what it did for this and many other fields of science. We learned about earth observation science and the latest technology being developed for future Mars sample return missions, the highlight in this visit was the physics masterclass we attended in the National Space Academy and when we got to hold parts of mars and moon in our hands, (Meteorite) and when one of the staff members in the NSA made liquid CO2. Which is impossible under normal conditions as CO2 sublimes.
Buckingham Palace was a highlight of my tour. The state rooms elegantly decorated contained gifts which was given to her majesty, the queen by other countries. One of my favorite places to visit is Hyde park, which was introduce to me by my friends, we used to go there regularly to relax in the middle of this immense but fascinating forum. I believe one of the highlights of staying in London and especially MGM was the day my friend related to us how he was chased by a goose on the night before which occurred in Hyde park, I immensely regret missing that experience.
I mentioned that many questioned why I was going to attend the forum, and the real answer was very simple indeed. I had a love for science, a growing flame in my heart and I knew that this forum would help me to grow that flame even more but also direct and make it calmer. LIYSF showed and found me the path I was searching for, it showed me what I could become while helping to grow that everlasting flame and taming it in the process. It made me the person I am and I will be eternally grateful towards it. LIYSF found this lost one, and nurtured it immensely to be one of the world future scientist and even though I will be 17 next year I would love to come back as a staff member so I hope that I would be able to see you at next years forum.