Last week i had the honour to be a speaker in the Future Congress 2020. Here some thoughts
It is me sitting in the back stage of the Oriente Theatre in Santiago, waiting to give a talk to the public that I initially thought was going to be like many others. But in that back stage I sit in a small red couch, very close to Donna Strickland and Lindy Elkins. Around us there are few young and excited students serving as our assistants, and a beautiful woman in charge of our makeups. Lindy stands and looks herself to the front mirror, asking if she uses or not a black jacket, we said she looked better without it for outside is summer. Another powerful woman, Kristin Lauter, rushes into stage, smiling and greeting, while we chat about what it means to us and our families to suddenly be recognised by a prestigious institution and become more than just a scientist. I don’t think any of us really knew.
Lindy goes to the stage, I become more nervous, for it wasn’t just another talk, it was me speaking in the "Understand Panel", in between these 2 strong women that are changing the future. It was me being from the host country, the youngest, and by far the less known. In addition, I knew I was being recorded and streamed, so everything had to be perfect. But Donna is a good chatter so instead of making myself too many movies about that moment, I got distracted speaking about “women in science" and how organising the house can be a similar challenge than any other project.
Then I was called to the stage, felt the support of my people, of my panel, and sank into my talk.
See summary (spanish) and full talks of Panel Entender
I confess I prefer when conference speakers not only come to their talks but stay few days. It gives other participants the chance to talk to the speaker, but also gives the speaker the chance to understand their contribution in a much larger context. So I decided to not only speak at the conference, but to participate and enjoy the entire conference.
Some conclusions of it are the following. As the tittle suggests, the conference was meant to address the “Future”. It did so from many disciplines. Yet, all disciplines concluded that the future is only bright if the narrative becomes more inclusive:
1) Not only some should benefit from the goods of the Planet: rich and poor, men and women, black and white, west and east, young and old. Humanity is the collective of all these people, and therefore the future of humanity depends on all.
2) Progress is only possible with better communication. The collective learning is what makes mankind achieve what has already done and yet to do.
3) Soft skills are as more needed than never. We work in groups, and having motivated team players willing to keep learning forever is becoming crucial.
4) It is possible to have a future while respecting the environment and the people, because we are a clever species. Hope is our best ally to achieve our goals.
5) Democracies and society are in crisis in many places in the World, but they can work well if the game is played without cheating.
“Is the collective work that solves problems. What we can learn from the biological world is that all this evolution and innovation comes from the diversity: diversity of DNA, of life, that recombines in different ways. Without this diversity, we’re destined to extinction. ” France Arnolds
I am in particular filled with proud that the congress was brave at actively including women in the programme. Gender equality was achieved with no problem among the speakers, showing that both women and men were able to make excellent presentations and contributions to the subject. Indeed, the congress started with a magistral talk of Chimamanda Ngozi, inviting the feminism to be first concept of debate to the table:
See CNN news (spanish) of congress start
See more on website