The 2017 class of Summer Students has now successfully concluded with 340 students from 90 countries around the world learning and working together for 8-10 weeks at CERN. For many students, this unique opportunity has been made possible thanks to donors from all over the world supporting the CERN & Society Foundation.
One of them, Yasemin Arik, has been a long-time supporter of Turkish Summer Students at CERN. We sat down with her and asked about her passions, her support for the cause and her experience with CERN.
C&S: Allow me to start this interview by thanking you for agreeing to share your story. Talking about one’s charitable gifts can start ripples of generosity. Tell me about you, your life. What are you passionate about? What is your personal mission?
YA: I grew up in Turkey, as the daughter of two visionary scientists who decided to return to their home country in 1979, in the midst of the oil crisis and a military coup. It was a time of economic difficulty and political uncertainty. My brother and I grew up in a family dedicated to science. We became familiar with CERN from an early age, as our parents would often spend their summers there working on projects, and we would sometimes accompany them. I also remember their continuous struggles to find funding for research, and support PhD students, and their initiatives to start organisations nationally and internationally to help support the cause.
My brother and I subsequently applied for undergraduate / graduate schools abroad, and were able to get great education thanks to the scholarships we received. I therefore am a huge believer in the need to support and fund education and research. It provides equality of opportunity, and enables students, who don't have the means or the opportunities in their country, to realise their true potential.
C&S: For years, your family has supported Turkish Summer Students coming to CERN for their training. Why did you first give for this cause?
YA: We lost my late mother, Engin Arik, in a plane crash in 2007. She and her project team were flying to Southern Turkey for a workshop. This was part of an ongoing project she initiated to build an accelerator in Turkey, to be able to provide to Turkish scientists and students the opportunities for research and advanced study of particle physics. Their vision was to put Turkey on the map of technologically advanced nations in the world.
The accident was indeed tragic. 55 people died. Among them was this team with this great vision that few were aware of at the time. The aim of our donations is to support this vision and commemorate those scientists who died in the accident, my mother among them. We have also been able to gather the support of friends and a few institutions who have generously made gifts, such as the one from Kale Group this year.
C&S: Why have you continued donating? Why do you think this is important?
YA: It is important to keep a continuous donation. This enables a continuous flow of students every year and for students to plan their academic research ahead of time. It also builds momentum for the following years. We have received a small settlement amount from the lawsuit regarding the plane crash which we earmarked for this purpose. I hope others will also keep contributing. Turkey becoming an associate member state in 2015 and ongoing media coverage of CERN and the research activity in Turkey will help keep this effort live. CERN can also support by providing donating individuals and institutions with opportunities to participate in the ecosystem.
C&S: What does it mean for you to be a donor?
YA: I care more about the cause being supported rather than me personally doing it. I will continue to support as my means allow. And grateful for any others who do the same.
C&S: What has been your donor experience so far? Is there anything you would like to see in the future/suggest for the future?
YA: Research institutions should do more to appeal to the masses, make science more accessible, within its Member States and also internationally. This is an important part of benefiting society and outcomes, I feel. My impression is that today they are very much perceived as an elite institution. As a donor, frequent updates on achieved outcomes of specific funding, and opportunities to connect with other donors are much appreciated as well as the opportunities to participate in the ecosystem.
C&S: What could you say to inspire new people become donors of CERN & Society?
YA: Science is a cause worth supporting and I trust in CERN & Society’s capacity to do this in the best possible way!