Last year I attended the 4th Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF). I would often get the e-mail announcements, but as soon as I would read it was intended for “promising young researchers”, I would stop reading. I never considered myself promising, and certainly not young. Not to the standards I see around me. However, a professor* at the university where I did my first postdoc forwarded it to me, adding “this is for you!”. How come his idea of me could be so different from my own, was unknown to me. In an answer that felt almost like a dare, I said I would apply only if he would write a letter of support. Which he did, so I applied. I did it with my best intentions, with a deep, but temporary conviction. As soon as I clicked the submit button, the feeling faded to thinking I had no chance to get in. It looked like a huge fancy event, anyway. How would I fit there? I’m a mathematician, sobriety is part of my craft.
I was invited to the 4th HLF, together with 199 other promising young researchers. And I made the best of it. I arrived feeling a bit uncomfortable, but determined to learn from this one-in-a-lifetime experience. And I did, and there was nothing to be anxious about. I appreciated the efforts of the organizers and the supporting staff to build a space of trust, where all participants could meet. Starting with the laureates, everybody was eager to talk, to open up, to be interested in one another.
That’s why I feel so extremely lucky to be attending this year’s 5th HLF. This time not as a researcher, but as part of the English Blog Team. As a warm-up, I wanted to share my impressions of last year’s HLF. Scroll down!
This wouldn’t have been possible without recommendation letters for my HLF application! Thanks to François Germinet (Cergy-Pontoise) for his continual support.
*Thanks to Thomas Østergaard Sørensen (Munich) for encouraging me to apply to the HLF and for his support.