Bonjour from International Space University!

Elizabeth's journal about her experience at International Space University in Strasbourg, France. Read on to find out what she did...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Selection of Department and Project

We started our lectures yesterday. They gave us an overview of the academic and research portions of the course in the morning, and that afternoon and evening we participated in the opening ceremony for the SSP. Several prominent members of the Strasbourg area welcomed us, as well as two of the co-founders of ISU, Peter Diamandis and Bob Richards. There was a very nice reception following the ceremony, which all took place at the Parc de l'Orangarie. The park is absolutely gorgeous, and the people of the area take advantage of it. There were pick-up soccer games being played, lovers and friends having picnics and sitting on benches, and people playing with their dogs. I can't wait to go back and enjoy it more on one of my days off.

Today we were in full swing. I'll explain a little bit of the structure of the program so my comments about today will make more sense. The session is broken into two halves. The first half is the academic portion of the session where we will listen to lectures and have a cumulative essay test at the end of the first four weeks. There are also nine different departments during this part of the session. Before arriving we each ranked our top three choices for the departments. We will spend a large portion of the first half focused on the topics for the department in which we are placed. We also have a project to do for the department before the end of the first half. The second half is the research/project portion of the session. There are three different projects to choose from, and again, we ranked these before we arrived.

The lectures started first thing in the morning with a presentation on Space & Society. I was actually somewhat offended by the speaker, which is not an easy thing to do. He had a lot more opinions than facts, and most were very negative about American's views of exploration and NASA, which was surprising since he's from the US. After this lecture we found out which departments and projects we were assigned to...guess which department I was in. That's right...Space & Society, which was my second choice based on the description. However, the description was nothing like this presentation. What I gathered from the description was that Space & Society would be more about how society perceives space activities and space, as well as what we can do to improve the public's perception and how to better communicate the advantages. I swallowed my pride and decided that this must be God's plan. The next lecture was also from the same department. It was about the History of the Space Age, and the presentation was much better. Both presentations seemed to have a strong focus on art in space, which is something both of the presenters seemed to have a passion about. Again, not what I expected for the department. The final lecture for the day was about Policy Rational for Space Activities, which was a fine presentation from the Policy & Law department. On a good note, I did get the project that I wanted, which was A Big Revolution on a Tiny Scale, Micro- and Nanotechnology. It should be both challenging and fun.

After the lectures we met for a department activity. There were only 5 students in the Space & Society department, and 4 of us did not want to be there. I really felt bad for the faculty, but the information that they presented that morning provided little to no benefit to us or our careers. We sat through the activity and participated in the discussions...all the while I was trying to keep an open mind. However, when it was over, I knew without a doubt that I could not continue for the rest of the academic portion in that department. I was able to obtain a department change request form and submit it to my first choice, which was the Business and Management department. The co-chair for that department, Christopher Stott, is actually a professor of space law at the University of Houston, and his wife is an astronaut at JSC. I didn't find out until after our final workshop for the day, which was on team work, that he approved the request. I was so relieved. Our first assignment is due tomorrow, so already have a little catching up to do, but I don't mind at all!

After all of that I stayed at the campus so I could watch the shuttle launch since we don't have TVs or internet in our dorms. It was beautiful, and very patriotic to see the shuttle take off with the red glare streaming behind it this 4th of July. God speed Discovery and bring her home safely.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Elizabeth! Your dad sent me the link to this page. I'll have to bookmark it so I can keep up with you. This opportunity sounds fantastic for you! Oh, to live and learn in France for 2 months. . . I know you'll miss Ross tremendously (believe me I can relate), but God can make you stronger than you think is possible. I'll be checking your blog and praying for you. I haven't seen you in forever, and I miss you!
Brandi Hart

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank the Lord for "change requests"! I'm happy for you that you are now in a focus group that will be both interesting to you personally and beneficial corporately. The nanotechnology project should be a blast second only to the shuttle launch! I'm so glad you got to see Discovery take off. Love the photos you're providing us, too...The pictures bring even more life to your beautiful words. Keep sharing! PFY (praying for you!) Love, MOM

11:30 AM  

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