Notes from UNESCO:
Being a fellow at UNESCO has many advantages. Last Thursday night, I was allowed to attend the L’Oreal – UNESCO For Women in the Sciences awards ceremony. This is a black-tie event that has been held for the last 20 years at UNESCO. There are five trailblazing women scientists selected from around the world to represent their geographical region, and this award is considered to be extremely prestigious. Thousands apply for the award from various fields of science. Some of the past winners have gone on to win a Nobel Prize.
The event is held at UNESCO but primarily organized by L’Oreal, the global cosmetic company. Coming to Paris, I brought clothes appropriate for a business casual environment but nothing even close to black-tie. Truth be told, I don’t even have anything at home that is black-tie worthy.
After lamenting about whether or not I wanted to go due to the wardrobe issues, I decided to bite the bullet and attended with my lovely wife Ryann. I threw together a ragtag assortment of business casual attire and Ryann put on all the black clothing she brought. I think we did a pretty good job.
Ryann showed up to the event a little early so I gave her a tour of the giant, maze-like UNESCO campus. This was her first time visiting since I started in January.
Guests started arriving around 6:30 p.m. in formal attire, lining up to get there picture taken on the (literal) red carpet in front of the L’Oreal poster.
The ceremony celebrated the five scientists with a short of video of their work before they were invited up on stage to receive their awards. Each scientist ended there thank you speech with advice for young scientists. This was my favorite part of the ceremony. It was so inspirational to have these scientists out in the world inspiring young women. Some of the winners raised the trophies above their head as so many athletes do after winning. I left feeling inspired to tackle my own ambitions with the same vivacity.
The party really got started after the ceremony. Guests gathered in UNESCO’s main hall for drinks and food. Yummy freshly prepared appetizers were prepared by multiple chefs lining the side of the main hall, while other appetizers circulated the room of server trays. Ryann and I made our way through the hall eating and drinking. We had an absolutely fantastic time, and really appreciated the opportunity to celebrate these awesome women!
To end the week off Eliza Byard agreed to be interviewed on Many Voices, One World. This was a personal highlight for me because Eliza is such a trailblazer for LGBTQ+ rights. She is currently working to change the school system into a more accepting environment for LGBTQ+ youth.
Notes from the Field:
Ryann and I have been desperate to watch sports. We love watching basketball during the winter and spring. To fill this void, we agreed to meet some of Ryann’s running friends at an Irish pub to watch a rugby tournament.
I know nothing about rugby, so I watch a couple of short Youtube videos and read the general Wikipedia page. I’m still confused about the purpose of the scrum which is a method of restarting the play but decided I had enough information to participate in light rugby banter.
The bar was your typical Irish pub setting, dark wood bar, Irish flag hanging, whiskey bottles lined up on the shelf behind the bar, and Guinness along with other Irish beers on tap. We ordered some pints and got ready to watch some rugby.
We ended up sitting next to some Irish folks that are acquainted from work. Instead of participating in rugby talk, the folks wanted to focus on politics, specifically about the United States. In the US it’s considered impolite to talk about politics and/or religion in a bar, but I have learned that Europeans do not abide by this same unspoken rule.
They were very interested in letting us know a clown ran our country and that the U.S. use to be a positive example for other countries. The overall sentiment was the U.S. was letting them down. This is not the first time hearing this opinion in France. Actually, I haven’t heard any other viewpoint.
We left the pub after a couple of rugby games and pints. I enjoyed speaking with the Irish group about multiple subjects outside of politics. These conversations included the difficulty of pronouncing certain Irish names, and about the loving environment of the death metal music scene.
Though Ryann and I had a good time watching rugby, we’re excited to catch the tail-end of the Trailblazer NBA season upon our return!