Starmus IV, Day Four: Trump sacked by Sachs, a King and a Prince doing a little bit of arson. 

Jeffrey Sachs - How we can survive Trump, Climate Change and other Global Crisis? Starmus IV
Jeffrey Sachs – How we can survive Trump, Climate Change and other Global Crisis?

“This is about money and greed. This not about science and denial.” Jeffrey Sachs came out swinging hard, unapologetically, and you could tell that his heart is angry. I know exactly what he is speaking to as a fellow American. My blood boiled, my emotions tumbled and, as always, I am left with the crushing question of how can there be humans who so deliberately chose such abhorrent behaviour? To me this talk was the hardest to hear, because those I love are living with the omnipresent and harsh realities created by the monsters parading as men.

Jeffrey Sachs
Jeffrey Sachs

What left the biggest lump in my throat was his appeal to not give up on the American people because we do know this is all wrong. Very wrong. We need those in this audience and in audiences similar to keep fighting back with innovation, solid facts and sound logic. It isn’t just a battle of economics, or science, or technology being developed to change the world. Not by a long shot. It is a war to save lives and help repair broken spirits.

Larry King - The Era of Post-truth and fake news
Larry King – The Era of Post-truth and fake news
Larry King - The Era of Post-truth and fake news
Larry King – The Era of Post-truth and fake news

Larry King, thankfully, brought us all to balance with his hilarious “interview” conducted by Garik Israelian. Poor Garek though. Larry is certainly one to talk and steer a conversation, and I think that his insights into good conversation were very much needed. The call for curiosity, honesty and building solid lines of communication has been a theme repeated by most of the speakers. The call to remember that we need to laugh more and use humour to help carry the human spirit was demonstrated in its effectiveness to do just that. His points of can we have too much information? Is there a danger of having everything at our fingers? Is it okay for everyone one to put information out there as fact? Have been topics that I would wager most of us have talked about with some friend over coffee at least once. Having accessible information has been enriching lives globally, but what is the cost to this? It was the questions within the questions and between the lines of banter that I found myself drifting on.

He said at dinner the other night that we need not only ask the big questions. We can just ask why and go from there. “Simple questions often get the most shockingly honesty answers because it surprises people and they forget answering grandiosely,” he said after I had asked what he felt the best type of questions to ask are. For a man who has interviewed 60,000 people, I am certain that advice is some of the wisest.

Starmus in the City - photo by Torleif Kvinnesland
Starmus in the City – photo by Torleif Kvinnesland
Starmus in the City - photo by Torleif Kvinnesland
Starmus in the City – photo by Torleif Kvinnesland

The City Programme, on the other hand, unfortunately plagued by our wet weather, has soldiered on providing some fun for those who are not attending the Main Programme events. So, while those of us at the Spektrum headed into a break to see a moon rock, eat a donut and then pile back in for the last panel discussion, the City Programme was well… on fire, literally, as the Crown Prince set our city’s resident and aspiring Bill Nye, Forsker-Frederic on fire.

“There was an immense amount of bending the rules,” Frederic said about having the Prince set him on fire. Which came about because, as it seems, a certain Princess is rather happy for her Prince to set someone on fire. A few well placed elbows from Mette-Marit and Haakon was on the stage being Forsker-Haakon, setting Frederic on fire after he asked for a volunteer. All in a day of royally-awesome science.

For the main programme tomorrow I want a really good seat for Martin Rees talk Living Beyond 2100: On Earth and Beyond.  I am also very curious about how marine biology, twitter, DNA and crochet all fit together, because I’ve crocheted for 30 years and I am really not coming to any conclusions on my own. I am certain Nancy Knowlton will clear it up for me. And although I am rather lame with my early bedtime, I am going to try to keep my eyes open long enough to go to the concert tomorrow evening.

Oh, one last thing…. If you want to set Frederic on fire (tell him I sent you), be at the Torvet at 11:00 for a front row seat (it worked for Haakon).

 

Finn Kydland - Innovation, Capital Formation, and Economic Policy
Finn Kydland – Innovation, Capital Formation, and Economic Policy

Wil_Lee-Wright_Starmus2017_93A0359_lowres

Oliver Stone - Decoding truth in films
Oliver Stone – Decoding truth in films
Oliver Stone - Decoding truth in films
Oliver Stone – Decoding truth in films

Wil_Lee-Wright_Starmus2017_93A0324_lowres Wil_Lee-Wright_Starmus2017_93A0308_lowres

Larry King.- The Era of Post-truth and fake news
Larry King.- The Era of Post-truth and fake news

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Starmus in the City - photo by Torleif Kvinnesland
Starmus in the City – photo by Torleif Kvinnesland
Starmus in the City - photo by Torleif Kvinnesland
Starmus in the City – photo by Torleif Kvinnesland
Starmus in the City - photo by Torleif Kvinnesland
Starmus in the City – photo by Torleif Kvinnesland

Words by Jennifer Wold, Photography by Wil Lee-Wright

Starmus IV, Day Three: Light, heavy, thrilling and humbling

Stephen Hawking, via live feed Starmus IV
Stephen Hawking, via live feed

Judging by the queues starting an hour before the session with Stephen Hawking, I could tell the auditorium would be full and the halls would be more than empty today. I did not have any desire to check my hypothesis on the matter first hand, however.

I got to enter the theatre before the doors officially opened, which I recognise is an exceptional thing to be able to do at a conference such as Starmus. I was perched at the top of the bleacher seats, watching the crew test the link to Buzz Aldrin, and it really hit me how in less than 30 minutes I would be hearing from Hawking firsthand. Last night I also had a rare opportunity fall into my lap which, in hindsight, has further entrenched my opinion that Starmus is a very, very important thing to have landed in Trondheim indeed.

I sat enjoying a few more quiet minutes, when the call “Let them in” rang out to break my thoughts. In an instant the room seemed to be tumbling in people. Norwegians, by all accounts, are typically rather orderly. Peels of laughter, a bit of running in the isles, and people making seat choices with haste, made me smile as it was refreshingly unfamiliar to other occasions I’ve been in primarily Norwegian crowds. It wasn’t just the young scooting around enthusiastically either. The impending talk by Professor Hawking was clearly fuelling activity across the room.

Stephen Hawking has been said to be funny, and he is. Jokes and his heartwarming, but mischievous smile, peppered his rather serious talk about the need to colonise other Goldilock-zone planets. The talk has roosted rather heavily on me though. I have been contemplating why that is and I think it is a two fold reason. For one, seeing him talk was on my bucket list and I got to check that off. It is an odd feeling to have something you never saw happening, happen.
Two would be that he was seriously imploring those in the audience to work hard to make our ability to survive beyond the capabilities of our planet, because of our mishandling of it, a priority.  A third did cross my mind and, although morbid, it stems from that he didn’t attend in person for health reasons (he spoke via feed) and I feel rather certain a world without Professor Hawking isn’t something I am comfortable with.

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Neil DeGrasse Tyson took over the stage to moderate the Moonwalker Panel. Buzz Aldrin joined in on a flawless feed to poke a little fun at his friends, Charlie Duke and Harrison ‘Jack’ Schmitt, and remind us how sunny it is in Florida before things got more serious and technical. Astronauts are fascinating people. They are very humble despite doing work only a few get to do. Sandra Magnus, who was stationed to the International Space Station, sat with me for an interview and the feeling I got was very similar to those of Charlie and Jack when I met them yesterday. I want to say it is a beautiful humility and rich perspective they have all gained by their time orbiting our blue marble that I am not sure can be attained any other way.

The presentation of the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication (say that three times fast) was joyful and a clear reminder of how we have to celebrate those working hard at making a difference in the post-fact/denier age. Hawking said that scientists are being held in decreasing esteem in his talk, and I see the individuals awarded today as the those fighting to put science and those who do it at the cool kids table.

I was in the extremely fortunate position to have dinner with two speakers last night; Larry King and Neil DeGrasse Tyson. We had pizza, very American of us, and really good conversation. I mentioned earlier that it was clear to me Starmus is a very important event to have happen here (truthfully anywhere and everywhere) because it brings in a person like me, who would otherwise maybe not go to a science conference, to a science conference because it isn’t elitist. I feel like I belong here despite my lacking a strong science background. Dinner with these two men made clear I might know their faces from TV, but as people they are much like myself and that fact was brought to me because Starmus is in my backyard. It’s easy to think science is only for “them”, but the “them” is another human trying to figure out the world like I am. In that sense we are the same. Sharing a meal is always a great equaliser in my opinion.

I got a chance to interview Neil (look for the article in the upcoming issue of Tech List) and then had a short, but insightful, conversation with Garik Israelian. I thanked him for the opportunity that he has provided our community. I thanked him for the the forward thinking and for the radically creative idea of putting music and science together with Brian May to make everything more accessible for all. He smiled and said “It makes me feel alive to do this. It energises my blood to help people hear directly the words from these people,” and I get it. It takes a courageous person to do something so radically different than the norm and to bring that which could confuse or alienate a person down to such an accessible level.

In thinking about tomorrow I am super focused on hearing Jeffrey Sachs talk about surviving global crises and Trump, Larry King on Post-Truth media, and Jaan Tallinn discussing artificial intelligence. I am hoping to get to the pollution pods at Festningsparken as I did an interview with one of the primary faces behind the project and have been fascinated since. I also highly encourage those with kids at home to go to the Torvet to see all the activities there. A few friends took their kids today and said the kids were very focused on what they were learning, chatting all the way through dinner about it afterwards.

All in all this has been a radically different day to yesterday and I am still just as excited for tomorrow as I was for today.

Words by Jennifer Wold/Photography by Wil Lee-Wright

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Starmus IV, Day Two: Gobsmacked and then some

Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion

In the span of a few hours today I learned that while chemistry has always escaped me, string theory (apparently) does not, and I shook the hand of two moonwalkers. Both things are wildly mind-blowing. I have been sitting for the better part of a couple of hours trying to, or even come close to, sorting out exactly what just happened to me today. Gobsmacked is the singular word that keeps coming to mind. I was there, and yet the whole experience is hovering over being put in the ´pictures or it didn’t happen` bin. Except I have pictures, a bag, a book, a conference pass all indicating that I did indeed have the wildest day.

I was never strong at maths or science, but I am a deeply curious person. Insomuch so I’ve always believed that continued self-learning in either discipline isn’t just for those with degrees or serious aptitude for them. I am often swept up in the livestreams from space missions with the type of wide-eyed awe that a five year old shows at a new bike. However, because I hold no education in the spheres of the Starmus speakers, the idea of being in the same room as many of these very people still feels preposterous and highly unlikely.

I have known about Starmus for the last two years. I thought I ´got it` before I even got in the doors (I mean I did write about it for the Starmus issue of The List), but the atmosphere nearly bowled me over; the excitement was far more than tangible, the focus of the auditorium was like a laser and the faces were illuminated with curiosity, awe and profound respect for those doling knowledge out from the stage.

It occurred to me when the eleven Nobel Laureates took the stage and Carlos Moedas began his keynote, that despite my lack of an engineer’s ring or a single class of physics, I was in a room of people who hold similar beliefs as I. “Democracy needs science, ”Moedas said and that, in this age of post-fact and flat out deniers, is something which I cling to as a deeply held belief. Terry Virts aptly added, during the following panel session, “if you´re not standing on the truth it’s all over,” and it is all too clear that those fighting the good fight for science number in the many and they are not giving up soon. I have been watching terrified at the voracity at which alternative-facts are taking over my country of origin, and in the hours I sat amongst the other attendees the sense that all is lost has abated.

I laughed along as Adam Smith tried to wrangle the Nobel Laureate panel, I was mulling over the possibilities for how nanocoatings could prevent the regolith from embedding in space suits and how I want to know where to sign up for classes on string theory and quantum mechanics. I am also looking forward to replaying the hours of audio I recorded.

If one day could leave me as inspired as I feel right now, I cannot imagine what I am going to feel like by the end of the week.

Tips for tomorrow: I am excitedly looking forward to seeing the presentation of the Stephen Hawking Medal of Science tomorrow and to hear the panel discussion by the moonwalkers. It is a shame Buzz cannot be here in person, however joining by video is still very fitting considering the use of technology and space.

The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast
The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast
The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast
The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast
The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast
The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast
The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast
The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast
The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast
The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast
The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast
The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast
Garik Israelian
Garik Israelian
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion

Wil_Lee-Wright_Starmus2017_93A0393_lowres

Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion
Nobel Prize winners/Panel discussion

 

Words by Jennifer Wold, Photos by Wil Lee-Wright

Juba Juba seen with Zane’s eyes

Words and photos by Zane Datava

Despite a grey sky over the Festningen fortress on Saturday afternoon, Juba Juba children’s festival is humming with voices of small participants, artists, clowns and all kinds of activities.
DSC_1426We head towards the Adressaavisen tent where everybody can get on the front page of issue special issue of the newspaper and take it home! My one year old son is eager to try drawing on the textile tote bag. A memory that one can use after the festival has finished. Various tents offer all kinds of creative workshops – final products stay in hands of little participants who can take them home and use!

There is a buttons workshop at art museum tent, an apocalyptic workshop lets kids’ fantasy fly free. Chilfren can make objects of recycled everyday objects and materials, and many more.DSC_1424Now we head to literature tent to hear the readings, and end up at music tent listening to “9 grader nord”. Bubbles, balloons and music all fit well together!DSC_1444We will definitely come back next year, when the little one will have more skills to fully participate in the festival.Fortunately, there are many activities for the smallest ones, too, including the toddler tent. And, of course, a fun of experiencing an event!

Lost Teen in a New Place

The current issue of The List has been taken over by the youth. You better hurry up to read it as we’ve already started working on the next one! In the meantime, enjoy Magalie and Klaudia’s article on communication and cultural differences. Magalie and Klaudia are 15-years old students at Rosenborg School.

Words by Magalie Baardsen and Klaudia Ciszewska

Howdy! Cześć! Bonjour! Agent Magalie Baardsen and Klaudia Ciszewska speakin’.
Today we’re on a mission to share our thoughts on communication, the experiences we’ve had, and how different from our homelands things are for us in Trondheim.people-23733_1280Being from Poland and Cameroon we have certainly noticed some differences. Trondheim welcomes students and immigrants from many places, but you can notice some differences. Especially when you are from another country.
First and foremost, there is not much racism or hate towards different people – different as in Ethnic groups – among the folks of Trondheim. Despite the contrasts in skin color everyone is treated equally. Diversity is very important to everyone living in Trondheim and makes the population richer.

Of course it was never said that there is no racism or hate in Trondheim; one can see that discrimination does exist here, but then again, there is no place in the world that doesn’t have hate. Hate is an easy feeling to get after all.

We were brought up in our homelands with very different morals and thoughts than our Norwegian classmates. For example, Magalie’s country of Cameroon is well known in Africa for being welcoming towards other Africans. They have a different concept of “foreigner” and in their view anyone that starts a life there is a Cameroonian; even without the papers to show it. However it becomes a little more complicated if you look a bit different (different as in white). They tend to judge one’s financial situation and personality by the skin color. Nevertheless, Indians, Chinese and Middle Eastern people aren’t rare sights if you go to certain cities.

In Poland however, Klaudia’s country, it is very different. People are brought up with a very different disposition. There is a rather high level of discrimination; there is no acceptance for immigrants most of the time, but it doesn’t mean that Polish people aren’t welcoming. It is like that because there are few immigrants in Poland, unlike in Norway wher seeing a person of another race isn’t something strange. It doesn’t mean that there’s no discrimination. Poland and Norway are two different countries. When Klaudia moved to Norway she could feel it and, it was something new to her.

In Norway teenagers and children grow up with people from different skin color and cultures. Therefore, one can see the different mindset of a teen from Cameroon, a teen from Poland and a teen from Norway. The first difficulty you meet when coming in Trondheim, is naturally the language. We all understand that we cannot just live in Norway without speaking Norwegian. We immigrated here knowing that. We must learn it one way or another, even though it is hard and takes time!hands-565604_1280Communication is extremely important for humans. Without the capacity to communicate relationships cannot be built. Without relationships isolation is inevitable. Isolation can lead to loneliness, but what is certain is that the humankind is not a lone race. It lives in big groups called communities and needs interaction. Communication is so important that humans cannot live without it (I am not human btw. I am a Unicorn). Not speaking Norwegian creates the language barrier that prevents people from communicating, in other word, interacting, in better words, building relations: be it of friendship, love, or hate.

It is human nature to want to communicate. It is the easiest way to express feelings and send a message across. It is with communication that we share knowledge. And people often feel the urge to interact and share. That is easier to do by speaking. Although when someone really wants to say something, he will always find ways to get rid of the language barrier. Talking is not the only tool of communication. When Klaudia first came to Norway, her friend could speak neither English nor Norwegian. Thus they had to find other ways to send messages across. She had to try to make her understand what she was trying to say by showing her signs with her hands or make strange movements. They interacted this way for a month and stayed friends until they finally learned a common language to communicate easier.

Many people don’t have the capacity to talk. Sometimes it is physically, sometimes it is mentally. Yet, they found ways to communicate: sign language, writing or even through art. On the other hand, when you know how to talk, you may sometimes find these other forms of communication quite hard to use. And in the end, most of the time, it crashes. Everything depends on the environment one has grew up in, the environment one lives in and the types of adaptation one has to make: states of mind, ways of seeing things, thoughts on things, lifestyles, capacity of adaptation, ability to express feelings with words and ability to express feelings with the body, etc, etc…

That day after 17 May

It’s been a fantastic celebration of Norwegian Constitution Day yesterday! How are you guys feeling? Gradually getting back to normal life? 🙂 We have prepared a short summary of what you can find in the current issue of The List Magazine so you can relax a little bit with coffee and the magazine in your hands.18278862_1086708978099817_4608288444886635871_oPhoto by Wil Lee-Wright

The List wanted to know more about what the youngsters are thinking and how it feels to be a teenager living in Trondheim. Therefore, we have created issue 16, which is in fact developed, influenced and inspired by the youth. Students at Trondheim Katedralskole, Rosenborg skole, as well as students taking part in the AFS international exchange programme, squeezed the most out of their free time after school. They found time to perform the roles of writers and photographers, creating content that is interesting, professionally written, and comes from their hearts.All writers by Théo Duperret_IMG_3755.jak-zmniejszyc-fotke_plPhoto by Théo Duperret

There is no time to waste, check out articles about the new circus and Lindy Hop, activities you probably didn’t know existed in town. Go, grab a copy and indulge in the column on how it feels to be born and raised in the city of opportunities, music piece about underground hip hop, interview with Stian Sandø, and learn what the youth’s thoughts on Norway being the happiest country are.Maura March_lindy hoppPhoto by Maura MarchKristian Wanvik_Cirquante Ungdom til print (25 of 34)Photo by Kristian Wanvik

Furthermore, we encourage you to find an interview with dr. Alan Stern and have a closer look at Starmus’ programme, the world’s greatest science festival that is soon taking place in Trondheim (!)astronaut-877306_1920Stock photo

We are also honored to introduce our readers to our new concept, which is Art List, the city’s first English-language, dedicated guide to museums, galleries, and exhibitions held in town.Work by graduate Amanda Trygg at Trondheim Art academy - 2016 Work by graduate Amanda Trygg at Trondheim Art academy
Happy reading!

Words by Kasia Gasiorek

Rockheim Hall of Fame

170421_197_hall of fameDon’t miss the party as the Raga Rockers, Popol Ace and Dizzie Tunes are inducted into the Norwegian Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 28 May. The Rockheim Hall of Fame is an institution honouring persons and groups who have played an essential role in the development and dissemination of Norwegian music. Artists are nominated for the award by a committee, and then voted in by a group of their peers.

The night will be one to remember; with a programme full of big surprises, amazing artists, stimulating discussion, and of course the music! The programme will be lead by Thomas Felberg – known for his music show on Norwegian radio station P13, and for his own work as a rock vocalist.

Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is what many Norwegian artists dream of. The party surrounding the event is once in a lifetime for the artists,but as attendees we have the privilege of experiencing it every year!

Fans of Norwegian music will find this to be an event that can’t be missed. Tickets are available for purchase online, or directly from Olavshallen (where the event is being held) – act quickly to secure your seat at the table for this historic event.

Words by Bradley Kurtz

Film showing: Screaming Masterpiece

For Icelandic music lovers, or maybe just simply – music lovers, Screaming Masterpiece is one of those films that make you take a trip down the memory line with no turning back! I keep on wondering why and how I overcame my teenage addiction, which Icelandic music certainly was. Well, after the Trondheim Filmklubbs screening at Nova last week, I am gradually coming back to it.iceland-1859435_1280

Screaming Masterpiece is a documentary on Icelandic music scene from 2005 that presents all the major music stars such as Björk, Sigur Rós or Múm but also makes you realize that’s definitely not it. How come Iceland, a small island in the middle of Atlantic Ocean is home to numerous unique music artists? There are only 300, 000 people living there and it’s seems that at least half of them makes music. There is a hypothesis presented in the film, which says that Icelandic musicians start making music without even thinking about commercial international success. They do what they want, the way they want.2015_BjorkBiophilia_Press_191115-920x610 Photo credit: Press

Björk, who remains one of the most famous Icelandic singers, is of course featured and interviewed in the documentary. She shares her thoughts on why this tiny isolated island is capable of producing so much music and explains what stands behind her songs. The question what makes Iceland a music paradise is, therefore, reoccurring through the film. Did you know that Björk’s music is inspired by national anthems? She thinks they are all the same song with just different lyrics and what she does is challenging it. Icelandic landscapes, climate and often tough conditions influence the artists and make them proud of the heritage. They make music about Iceland because they simply don’t see a need to copy internationally known bands. Icelandic musicians are from Iceland, therefore the music is heavily inspired by the life on the island.

Words by Kasia Gasiorek

The Great Egg Hunt

intro_93A0261 copyintro_Wil Lee-WrightStaying in town for Easter break? If you subscribed to our newsletter, you already know there is no room for boredom in Trondheim! Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimusuem, Norsk Døvemusuem, Sverresborg, Rockheim and Røros museums are open and offer special exhibitions for those who feel like experiencing some culture during Easter. This post, however, is for those who need even more inspiration on what to do for the next couple of days (of course, if you’re not already at a cabin eating oranges and kvikklunsj ;))

For inspiration, grab a copy of The List issue 15. You will find The Great Egg Hunt there, an article written by our lovely contributor Tijana Ostojic. She lists options waiting for you just under your nose and promises you will have a hard time finding excuses as to why you should stay indoors! What Tijana recommends? Here is the short list:todd-quackenbush-27493First swim of 20172_BOOKS_93A0193Visit at the librarySUP_10343580343_ef27de22e5_o_croppedKayaking on Nidelvatram2Tram ride to LianBymarka_8503431834_f8f95faca5_oVassfjellet and cross country skiingcycling by Nikol HerecCycling along Skansen and LadestienBymarka_8502322447_4fa66857e0_oJonsvatnet and BymarkaKorsvika_campfire-1548787_1920barbecue in Korsvika10_vintensenteret_Wil_Lee-Wright.jak-zmniejszyc-fotke_plVitnesenteret

Need more details? Find Tijana’s article on page 35 and let her inspire you this Easter!

Photos by Wil Lee-Wright, Nikol Herec and stock
Words by Kasia Gasiorek

Paul’s thoughts on ISFiT 2017 and discrimination, the festival’s main theme

Words by Paul Emanuel Kalle, a participant of ISFiT 2017.

466 students from 107 countries met in Trondheim to make the world a better place

“It’s a fallacy that walls and fences erode our obligations to other people’s rights.Walls within the human family in a small and distressed planet, in a globalized world, with the largest population of young people that the world has ever seen, such walls and borders, they are untrue, they are irresponsible and they are unconscionable. There is no country on this planet, at this time, in such an interconnected world, that can rightfully stand apart, stay silent or not be at the table of rightful solutions.”
These revolutionary words from Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore, said during the first of seven plenary sessions, show the necessity and the spirit of ISFiT 2017. This year’s topic “Discrimination, why?” could not be more up to date than today, considering the world events happening around us. Discrimination is still happening. Today. Around us. In many different faces and dimensions. Discrimination because of disabilities, gender, sexual orientation, religion, origin, culture, social class and many more. The thriving point is that a person nowadays might be discriminated several times, in several different dimensions.
Looking at discrimination against LGBTQI, according to Matt Beard, CEO of the American registered LGBTQIA rights organization “All Out”, 40% of the people in the world live in countries where being gay is illegal, 400 million are living in countries where gay people are endangered by the death penalty and very soon there could be a new law in the United States of America of the protection of the 1st amendment allowing shop leaders to put up signs stating “No gays allowed”.

Not only do we still have a highly discriminative situation against the LGBTQI community but also in regards to indigenous communities. Chief Wilton Lilltlechild told his tremendously sad story about being displaced from his family, put in a residential school, thousands of miles away from home and being taken away his name: “Your name was taken from you and [you were] given a number. My name in school was number 65. 65 come here. 65 pick that up. 65 you dummy, why don’t you do this. You see what happens to a little boy when you do that?”
Another dimension of discrimination and intersectionality can be seen in the situation in the Middle East. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi stated that “Unfortunately the region in the Middle East is burning in the flames of war and the route of it lies in the lack of democracy in the region. […] and be sure that there will be tranquility in the region once Saudi Arabia and Iran are becoming democratic.” Furthermore, when she was asked about Donald Trump’s influence on the region she stated that “Donald Trump’s presidency has not only failed to better the situation in the middle east but has made it far worse. And I was very sorry to see the travel ban against 7 mainly Muslim countries. […] Am I more a danger to world peace than Donald Trump?!” Here one can see intersectionality since people are discriminated in respect of their political rights, their origin, and their religion.

This is why it was more than necessary that 466 students from 107 countries met in Trondheim under the motto “Ten days without discrimination” in order to discuss how to make the world a less discriminative place to live.
Through a great mixture of events such as art exhibitions, concerts, parties, a project day, the attendance of each participant at smaller workshop groups looking at the theme from different angles as well as inspiring talks with experts from all over the world this festival is fostering intercultural understanding and exchange. Topics of the workshops were among others family, health care, law, and policy or environment. The project day gave the participants the opportunity to learn new skills on how to implement the results of the discussions.
While explaining the concept of a student festival to others, it can be either understood as bone-dry academic discussions between uprising members of the academia or an alcohol soaked music event, this gathering represents something different. A multicultural meeting bursting with inspiration and motivation to make the world a better place.

ISFiT is a place where the world is coming closer together. It was fascinating to see how people from many different countries with many different backgrounds became friends. One important part of this intercultural convergence is the fact the participants are hosted by local residents triggering a multiplication of the ISFiT spirit and the intercultural communication towards the local society and into the world.
While there were many sad, depressive and pessimistic descriptions of the present, there were also a lot of expressions of hope. The Secretary-General of the World Council of Churches stating that he has hope that we will be able to find a way to live together or as Kate Gilson said by referring to human rights: “These principles they don’t prevent our diversity, they establish it. They don’t limit our culture, they protect it.They don’t stop our debate, they empower it.They don’t beige us out, they don’t reduce us to a preferred human being. Human rights create the space in which each and every one of us is entitled to dignity […] The message of human rights is that we can transform society. That we have a right to transform society.”