Attending the London International Youth Science Forum with the support of Great Ydeas

10 April 2018

Great Ydeas is YWCA Canberra’s small grants program, providing up to $2,000 to women to help kick-start a great idea for a business, community development project, or to support professional development or education and training opportunities. Applications for the 2018 Great Ydeas program are open until 13 April, and in the lead up to announcing this year’s recipients in May, we’re featuring some of our amazing past recipients to highlight what can be achieved through the program.

Elise Kellett received a Great Ydeas grant in 2017 to attend the 2017 London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF). Here, Elise tells us about her experience as a Great Ydeas recipient, and shares the highlights on what this opportunity enabled her to achieve.

I would like to express my appreciation for receiving a 2017 Great Ydeas Grant and to provide you with a report of what the funding enabled. I am grateful to YWCA Canberra for what they have done for me, and for what they do for women in the community. The grant helped me pay to attend the 2017 London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) that ran from 23 July to 11 August 2017. The program incurred a significant cost of $8,700, which included the LIYSF program fee, airfares, accommodation, and meals on residence.

Two students attended from Canberra and around twenty in total from around Australia. The generosity of YWCA Canberra meant that there was far less debt burden on me, and now that I am starting my degree in science at the ANU and accumulating HECS debt, I am very appreciative of the help.

The LIYSF consisted of a number of varied activities. Because we were travelling from Australia, we arrived two days early in order to adjust to the time difference. We took part in fascinating lectures, forums, and debates with students and scientific experts from around the world. We visited scientific and non-scientific institutions. We had a wonderful time getting to know other people in our area of interest, and did fun social activities together, and most importantly we developed friendships and networks that will help us, perhaps through our entire lifetime.

I loved getting to know a variety of people from different cultural backgrounds, and talking to them about science and the issues in their part of the world, how we might work together on projects in the future, and what challenges they face from a sociocultural perspective in their country. One of the most significant outcomes was the network that I developed with the twenty students who travelled from Australia, some of which are now studying with me at the ANU.

The discussions with people I met were really interesting. One of the most interesting discussions I enjoyed was with other female students to learn about what they plan to do with science in their country, and what issues and barriers they face. Events such as the LIYSF is a powerful tool to get young people together to gain an understanding of what is happening around the world and to discuss how we can work together as women to address these issues. I was interested in what progress is being made with gender equity, especially how things are going with pay gaps in their countries, and it appears while progress is being made, it is slow.

I have started my Bachelor of Advanced Science (Hons) at the ANU, and I am only in the first few weeks of the degree. So far I am loving it. I look forward to opening my biology text book and learning about the amazing information. I’m not sure how much I’m looking to sitting the exams but so far so good! As for what’s next, I have joined the ANU+ which is a volunteering organisation at my university which allows me to volunteer in many different ways, from events like the National Multicultural Festival to long term commitments like the Play Activation Network. Once I settle into university life I will be contacting  YWCA Canberra to get more involved in the organisation and to see how I can contribute to the wonderful work being done.

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