I know it is not the same for every scientist but one part of my job is to communicate my research to the world. I write popular science articles, attend panels, give non-scientific talks, and teach graduate and undergraduate courses. I love interacting with young people through these opportunities. One reason behind having this website is similarly to being able to communicate what I do, why I do it, and to show people that I exist. Less often than formal invitations to talks, interviews, panels, and so on; I get contacted by young people who are having homework/assignments on science/scientists.
I cannot tell you the pleasure to receive e-mails from these students. I feel so lucky to know that, they have spent hours deciding to interview a scientist and in this wide world where 100Ks of us exist, they have chosen me as their subject. These interactions and communications with the young people always become the highlight of my day. They make me happy, put a smile on my face and I feel heard because if I want to do anything with my work, nearly anyone who follows me and my studies know that it is to be able to bring another perspective to this world and help out to change it. What can be a better way than having a chat with a younger person about science, robotics, artificial intelligence, women’s rights, and so on? Nothing, if you ask me! I know publishing scientific articles is one of the most effective tools in our hands to share our findings with the scientific community but it is certainly not the only way and I need more than the scientific community to make the world a better place.
A few months ago Marley who is in 6th grade and lives in Los Angeles had an assignment on researching a #scientist and he sent me an e-mail to ask if he can interview me about #robotics and #artificialintelligence 🙂 I surely replied back as soon as possible. It was one of the best #interviews I have ever had. What a brilliant young mind he is. Calling me from his bedroom with remarkable enthusiasm and asking very serious questions to learn more about robotics and AI. I was simply amazed!
Last month, I received another e-mail from Coco, from Hong Kong. She is a 3rd-year undergraduate nursing student from The University of Hong Kong. A smart, caring young woman who takes a class on Women in Science. The course explores the gender differences in STEM-related careers and the contributions of female researchers. Unbelievable! Everyone should take this course all over the world during their undergraduate studies. She asked me questions about my experiences and when I was answering them I had to do a lot of reflection. We talked about gender and politics in academia. It reminded me again that I still had a smooth ride, even though I had to run away from my country when I was 19 years old, even though I worked and studied at the same time throughout all my higher education, even though I moved between five different countries, dozens of houses and cities. I finally at one point found a place where I belong, I have been given opportunities and I was privileged in many settings. It was never easy but you know it was easier. All around the world, there are many women in academia that never had the chances that I had and this is not OK. Coco knows about it at this young age now because we had a genuine, honest discussion on it. And it is more than enough for me to know that at least one person who is living thousands of miles away from me heard me and learned a small thing from my experiences.
Below you can find the beautiful poster she prepared about me 🙂 One of the best gifts that I have ever received.
Thank you, Coco!
These small steps are the ones that will make a difference in the world, and I am sure that these #youngpeople will be the ones who will make it a more #inclusive, equal, diverse, #sustainable, caring planet where all have an equal chance to be whoever they want to be. Not us unfortunately, what we do is not enough if we do not find a way to do it together with others.
Even though I always dreamt that I will be part of the change and do something about it, I sometimes feel a bit lost. I am so grateful that these young people show up from time to time and remind me why I should never give up and why these small occasions are so valuable.
#Curiosity is an unbelievable skill. I wish grown-ups did not exchange it so easily! I hope they continue to ask questions, be curious and build a better #world than what we are leaving to them.
#interview #stem #steam #steameducation #students #kids #amazingpeople #change #transformation #future