Short report on the Advanced School 2008
Back from Hermanus, where the First IUBMB African Advanced School took place, my first reaction has been: 'fantastic'. It started in a simple, solid way: I arrived with most of the students on the first bus to Hermanus, a pretty village 103 km east of Cape Town international airport. No whales in this season near the cost but the ocean itself and the coastline were enough to keep us long minutes, standing in admiration.
The Windsor Hotel was built in 1896 - making it the oldest accommodation in Hermanus! It is situated on a cliff edge with spectacular panoramic views of the Indian Ocean: family style house, with nostalgic old furniture. Hermanus has managed to maintain its charming and tranquil atmosphere color an ideal place for our scopes. The registration, with friendly white smiles of black boys and girls, was extremely efficient: more than 40 people were checked in 14 minutes! And we moved quickly to small, clean and comfortable bed rooms. The abstract book (nicely done with good space for notes) and a badge was all we received. And still there was an hour to stay at the window or at the belvedere across the street to admire the ocean and begin the first exchanges.
The student appeared to me immediately uninhibited, curious and active. Gender, religion, geography and ethnicity seemed to be more an incentive to interact than to divide. Ready for dinner I gave a short presentation on the IUBMB and its roles as well as on the advanced school and the invaluable role of Iqbal Parker and Pascale Cossart. During the dinner, the students introduced themselves, with sense of humor and a very few signs of shyness.
The perfectly sized lecture room was ready in the morning for the first lecture of Pascale: two hours mixed with intensive discussion by very active students. The start could not be better and I regret that I had to go to the airport to catch my flight in the middle of the afternoon.
I'm sure with such a beginning the continuation has been equally successful and my recommendation would be that of repeating this experience under the local organization of Iqbal Parker with a different topic and different scientific organizers, in order to maintain technical continuity and stimulate scientific change.