A Virtual Toast to the HRRS-2019 Family: IACAPAP Congress 2020

By: Grace Eugenia Sameve (Indonesia), Lakshmi Sravanti (India) & Aisha Sanober Chachar (Pakistan)

While the “See you in Singapore next year” phrase was expressed to one another at the end of the seminar last year with the expectation to reunite in-person at the conference in 2020, little did we know that the HRRS reunion would happen virtually. Prof Petrus de Vries hosted a lovely virtual cocktail party that was attended by 13 HRRS fellows, and 5 mentors. There was a surprise appearance by Prof Helmut Remschmidt himself who wanted to personally meet all the fellows – given that his absence in Singapore was greatly felt by the fellows last year. Thanks to technology, we were able to catch up while enjoying some sips of the BYO (Bring-Your-Own) drinks together, and even sing a happy birthday song for PA (Prof Per-Anders Rydelius) through the 2-dimensional screen on the 5th of December 2020. Joining from different parts of the world, no matter what time of the day it was for different people, everyone was equally enthusiastic.

It has been a challenging year for all of us in different ways but, truth be told, many happenings that are worth celebrating have happened too. To sum the fellows’ journeys up, life changing convictions have been acquired and decisions made, numerous academic papers have been published, many achievements have been accomplished, and multiple breakthroughs, collaborations as well as promotions have also been acquired. Graduations, weddings and birth of babies too have been celebrated. To put it in Dr.Fung’s words – “HRRS is indeed a very fertile ground”.

The stories and experiences that the 5 mentors shared are, as always, very inspiring. Their enthusiasm, vision and passion to make things happen is contagious. Interactions with them also instill a sense of purpose and drive that cannot be explained but can only be experienced. Perhaps, it is the “essence” of HRRS fellowship program and we feel fortunate to be a part of this elite family. On top of that, it was an honour to share the same virtual space as Prof Remschmidt and listened to him speak. This turned out to be the icing on the cake. His words will be etched on our memories and we hope to carry his legacy forward.

Happy faces of HRRS-2019 mentors and fellows

Even our serious interactions are coupled with fun activities. So this time around, we all played a word-association game (with a twist). Our host, Prof Petrus, asked each of the attendees to say a “word” that comes to mind in response to ‘HRRS’ – not in a rush but after putting in thought, which was the twist. And here is the list of words that emerged from the attendees – Decision-making. Hope. Friendship. Enlightening. Inspiration. Pleasure. Networking. Fun. Coping. Safe Haven. Academic Family. Rewarding. Collaboration. Family.

The session that went on for almost two hours felt like “just-a-few-minutes”. Although virtual, it was indeed a much needed meet that brought cheer to all the faces who attended. Mentors and fellows who could not make it were in everyone’s thoughts and dearly missed. We all hope that we will be able to meet in person soon again. While we may have met as strangers 16 months ago, we stay connected and grow together as a family and watch out: this is just the beginning!


IACAPAP Bulletin, Issue 60