First IJSO Opening Remarks


Jakarta, 6 December 2004

Good Afternoon everybody,

My name is Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and I am the President of Indonesia.

I am so happy to welcome all of you to Istana Negara, or “State Palace”, which is a very historic building and a very special place for the Indonesian people.

So much of the history of Indonesia, so many important things has happened in this building. This is where I swear in my Cabinet Ministers, where I receive foreign ambassadors, and have meetings with world leaders.

And because all of you are so special, so very talented, we decided to have the Opening Ceremony of the First International Junior Science Olympiad here in this palace. You can tell your parents that you are sitting in a room where Presidents and Kings and Prime Ministers usually sit. That is how special you are.

This is the First International Junior Science Olympiad, an international science competition for junior high students. I can not begin to express how much my heart is filled with pride and joy to find myself here today with the best and the brightest students from all over the world. As President, my job is simply to open this ceremony, but the real star of this event is you.

I know many of you have traveled far from your home country to compete at this Science Olympiad. Your parents must be so proud of you. Your teachers must be so proud of you. Your country must be so proud of you. You know, even though I am older than you, I am also a student. A few months ago, after several years of hard studying, I was fortunate enough to finally complete my Doctorate degree at the Bogor Institute for Agriculture. So you see, I too have a great love for science. And perhaps because of this, my Education minister has asked me to give you a few words of advise, from one scientist to another scientist. So here it is.

I think the most important thing I want to tell you is to be thankful for the special gift of learning that God has given you.

As a life-long student, I have learned a powerful lesson: no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter how rich or poor, city-boy or village-girl, no matter your skin color or family background, each and everyone of us has the same capacity for learning. We all have the same brain cells. It is up to each and every one of us how we use this gift from God. You can choose to use your mind to become a smarter person, or you can simply waste it by closing your mind. It is all up to you. But I know from experience that those who succeed in life, those who are able to reach their dreams, and those who change the world, are always the ones who can take advantage of this gift of learning.

The other important thing I would tell you is to never, ever stop dreaming. Never stop imagining. Never stop thinking. Never stop wondering. Never stop being curious. Never stop asking question. Never stop trying to search for answers.

This is the only way by which you will know more, and understand better, not just about science, but about life in general, and also about your own self. No wonder that the most important inventions of the world, the ones who change the fate of mankind, always come from curious minds, who never stop asking “why” and “how”. This is we must always remember what Albert Einstein once said: “imagination is more important than knowledge”. So open up your mind wide open, because you have no idea how creative you can be once you pump the power of knowledge into your brain cells. The fact that you are here competing in a prestigious international junior science Olympiad, means that you have used the power of your mind more effectively than the average students to master science.

Finally, while it is obvious that all of you are talented in the field of science, it is even more important for you to know how to apply your knowledge, so that you can use that knowledge to make life better, to help others, for the good of society. Remember what Spiderman said in the movie: “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Well, whether you are a Spiderman, or President, or Science Student, that is very true: “With great power, with great knowledge, comes great responsibility”.

You are all here because you are so talented, so gifted, so smart. I am amazed to think of what you will know in the next 5 years, or the next 10 or 20 years. Do not get tired of gaining more knowledge, and always use your knowledge wisely. I want to share with you a saying that I think you will find useful in the years ahead. The saying goes: “20 years from now, it will not matter how your hair looked, how well you danced and what brand of jeans you wear. What will matter is the knowledge you gained and how you apply it in your life”. As you move on in life, I hope you will remember this.

In the next few days, all of you will be part of something very special. Your knowledge and skills in science will be tested. You will be competing with the best and the brightest in the field of science. And by competing with the best, you will only get better. I know that all of you will come out from this Olympiad a better scientist.

This junior science Olympiad will end on December 14, but I hope that the friendship that you will make during this exciting international event will last a life time, and will change your life. And that is another thing that I have learned in my life: knowledge will bring you far, but friendships, even farther. If you come away from this conference with better knowledge and better friends, you will go far in life.

I trust that all local Olympiad Committee members are: working very hard to make your stay in Indonesia as enjoyable as possible. I must tell you, Indonesia is a wonderful country. We are a people who love life, who love peace, who love progress, and who love science. We are now in the middle of the rain season, but that will not stop you from seeing and feeling warm heart everywhere you go.

I am therefore pleased to declare the International Junior Science Olympiad open. My very best wishes to all of you, and please also convey my respect to your parents and your teachers, along with our thanks for sending you to this important Olympiad. Tell them something they already know: that we are all so very proud of you.

Good luck, everyone

Thank you.

Jakarta, 6 December 2004



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