Saturday, January 23, 2016

EQuaLS8 Done

Yesterday EQuaLS8 ended. As usual, there is a sense of relief as well as sadness with a feeling of incompleteness. Below are some pics from the event (more pics are available here).

EQuaLS8 group photo with all invited speakers

Martin Schlichenmaier

Teo Lee Peng

Miroslav Englis

Chengming Bai

Isamiddin Rakhimov

Riccardo Adami

Syed Twareque Ali

Syed Hasibul Hassan Chowdhury

Tay Buang Ann

All invited speakers are distinguished researchers, some of which are holding influential positions such as Prof. Englis as Vice Rector of Silesian University and Prof. Chengming Bai as Vice Director of Chern Institute. As usual, these researchers are pretty much down-to-earth (despite their positions) and were happy to be at our small event.

This time, EQuaLS8 was done on a very tight budget. We are much indebted to the speakers' willingness (both international and local) to finance their own travel without which we will be unable to hold such event. We still manage to hold a dinner for our overseas speakers at the KL Tower (Atmosphere 360^o) and another bbq dinner together with the participants and staff (see pics below). Given the austerity drive due to our current financial situation, the choice of the KL Tower might be strange to some. To thwart off critics, let it be known that the expenses will not be forked out from the event's budget or the management. In the past, we normally bring our guests to Restoran Seri Melayu which had cultural performance during the night but this restaurant is now closed, making way for more luxury hotels. Thus what we did is merely following what our Director has done for past guests. I hope there is not too much fuss about this.

I have to thank my staff for going all out to make things happen and I'm pretty certain that our guests appreciate very much what we are doing. Whatever others would like to say, I think it is good that we have gone a further mile in our efforts in entertaining our guests, living up to the reputation of Malaysian hospitality.

Perhaps another criticism is that the topics presented are way too advanced for the Malaysian audience. This is precisely the reason I started out EQuaLS. We have been always stereotyped that we are not able to handle really technical subjects. I think much of these technical things are simply a matter of getting accustomed to and yes of course a good amount of effort in learning them, and it is not impossible to learn them (despite some would like to paint them so). In the past, I have always said that while it is good to be able to understand the content of a talk on the go but some may just need to understand the ideas and the details have to be worked out later. In a way, this is why we prefer selecting good speakers for EQuaLS so that some amount of ideas cut through to even the basic audience, the very least.

A better way, is of course to prepare the participants with some background knowledge. We have been toying around the idea of a prequel programme called prEQuaLS to do just that but we have never managed to do this (hence the sense of incompleteness). With enough background, the participants may be able to ask meaningful questions during EQuaLS and hence more interactivity. For now, we have to leave this to the interactivity between the speakers themselves (much can be learned from just even this) and that's the reason we always have a few like-minded speakers to be on board in EQuaLS.

Perhaps we can plan carefully for the next EQuaLS which is tentatively scheduled in December 2017. I hope in a way my junior colleagues will gradually take over since I'm getting busier than ever. I am glad that they have shown commitment n the present EQuaLS and hence would like to thank them. A certain amount of sacrifice is certainly needed to make things work here ...

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