Philosophers Gathering

The curve of the world turns, with all of that flying…
The first time I flew to Europe in 1986, I had a window seat and saw the sun emerge from darkness to rainbow to daybreak around the curve of the earth. No matter how many times I do this overnight flight, the enchantment of seeing the curve of the earth from high altitude never fades.
…Join the herd for the mad rush…where does everyone come from? …
So many immigration lines, visas, passport stamps, and moments of being herded through with a mass of other migrating humans. My favorite was the official at Heathrow who asked why I was coming to the UK. 
        “To attend a conference.” 

“What do you do for a living?”

        “I am a chemical engineering professor.” I replied, with an involuntary guarded edge to my voice…

“What conference are you going to?” was his stern response. 

        Now I smiled, “The Gordon Conference on Visualization in Science Education!”

He smiled back, “For that, I will call you Professor!”

…I am all but surrounded…Grandfathers and babies…forgive me my unconcealed envy…

So many times we arrived at the airport in Charlottetown, always watching for the moment when my Dad’s stern face would break into a thousand smiles at the sight of his granddaughters and his children. So many times I arrived in a strange country and moved through the arrivals corral, secretly envying fellow passengers being greeted with magical welcoming signs promising a safe delivery to their final destination – and then having one of those signs assigned to me at a conference in Beijing in 2011. Tomorrow, I will go back to the airport in Istanbul to collect Rebecca who is now waiting for her flight out of Toronto.

…We’re philosophers gathering!…
…and yes! So many conferences with colleagues to talk about Mixing, to share ideas and questions and adventures in our host country. This time, at the 15th European Conference on Mixing, we are in St Petersburg…after Warsaw (2012), London (2009), Bologna (2006), Bamberg (2003), and Delft (my first European meeting, in 2000).
The friendships survive this three year cycle, students grow up and have children and grow research groups of their own…good friends start bringing their wives after their children leave home… and then they retire – but keep coming as part of their holidays because it is such a big part of our lives. 

This time, for the first time, three of my former research group members are here as professors – one from Turkey, one from Germany, and one from Alberta. The White Nights of summer mean that the sun is still evident at midnight, so we stay up until 2am every night, celebrating the time together, walking and talking and going to the opera and walking some more. A big thank you to our hosts, who have welcomed us with grace and shared the best that their home country has to offer!

Philosophers Gathering – Sasha, Marcio, Suzanne, Thomas, and Inci

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One thought on “Philosophers Gathering

  1. Marta Frant says:

    How long have you stayed in St. Petersburg? Had you enough time to see its beauty and majesty? 🙂

    Like

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