PhotoDaisuke Akai
Kyoto University

I was sent to Stockholm, Sweden as a participant in the Stockholm Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS) by the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan from December 4th-11th, 2005. I was working at my university late into the night on December 3rd, and honestly I wondered if I would really be in Stockholm in just a few hours time. Yet one week in Stockholm passed as quick as a flash, as the saying goes.

What happened within the scope of this very valuable week? The Nobel Prize has special importance for people involved in science. Many events related to the Nobel Prize are held in different parts of Stockholm every day, such as the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony, lectures by the laureates, a press conference and the Nobel Foundation's reception. Some 25 students from 16 countries--all of us wanting to be scientists--met in Stockholm at the SIYSS and took part in these special events.

This came about in my case thanks to a professor at my laboratory. He made the suggestion that I apply for the SIYSS, and that was the trigger. At that point, I thought that I could experience many things that I wouldn't normally do, and that there was no reason not to apply for the SIYSS. And I wrote a short essay about my future as a scientist, as requested. I thought that I would not be selected as a candidate for the SIYSS, based upon the short essay I wrote, because only one person was selected from my university. So when I received a call from the university offices to tell me that I had been selected as a candidate for the SIYSS, I honestly couldn't believe what they were saying. A few weeks later, I took an interview and I wrote a short essay at the office of the Foundation, where I found a very friendly atmosphere. A few days later I was contacted and informed that I had been selected as an actual participant of the SIYSS.

Almost all of the participants were 18-20 years old this year. They had their own projects, on the basis of which they were selected as participants of the SIYSS. I had an opportunity to make a presentation about my own research in this program. So, I presented it, and I also heard the presentations of all the other participants. What made me feel excellent was that many of the participants looked at issues arising in their own countries, and concentrated on them--such as issues to do with animal protection, food distribution in societies where there a wide gap between the rich and the poor, environmental issues, energy problems and others. The participants are still undergraduate students, and have keen curiosity. And they are honest about their feelings and want to know many things, and take action in their own particular ways. I thought that was an excellent attitude to science. It is very easy to criticize something or to be envious, but it is very important to find out something new and to do something actively in your actual environment. And there are so many things to learn from this attitude. I realized that having an attitude to want to know something new in science would bring about great success. Around the world many students are getting Ph.D's. Philosophy is a case. One of the Nobel laureates said: "It is a very important factor for success to find out great challenges that you can work on with your own will in science, and also to select the environment where you can make the best your ability." I thought about these matters throughout the week.

I think the best part of the SIYSS is to take part in the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony. The Nobel Prize is taken notice of around the world, and thus eminent people are invited to the ceremony from all over. I caught a glimpse of a social system that values science and technology highly. I believe firmly that supporting scientists is very important in a society.

I wore my haori hakama at the ceremony. My dress stood out in the crowd because many were wearing tail-coats. I talked with the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and I spoke with famous news-casters at the local TV station, and had my photo taken by other participants. I danced with beautiful women wearing my haori hakama. I had a marvelous night. I recommend that you wear haori hakama if you want to make a big splash!

All in all, I had a great week at the SIYSS. I want to shape my own future by sharing my experience in this SIYSS program with otheres. I appreciated, so much, all those who gave me such a great opportunity.

Thank you very much.

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