Of Butterflies and Tornadoes

Remarks of MFK CEO Petrit Selimi at the closing ceremony of #WomeninScience Summer Camp in Kosovo, which gathered 100 girls from Kosovo, USA, Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia with tutors from Intel, NASA, Microsoft, US Department of Energy and many more.

 

 

This is the closing ceremony of one of the most exciting projects for the Millennium Foundation Kosovo. My name is Petrit Selimi and I had the opportunity to address you at the start of this journey and I have followed the hashtag #wiscikosovo throughout last few weeks, being very impressed with the diversity of the classes and the depth of your engagement. I was also a bit jealous of the fun you are all having while being engaged in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

 

Science is indeed fascinating. But I dare say, girls and women in science should not be fascinating. Gender inclusion is a necessity for progress in our societies. Hence, much has been said — and proved empirically — how having more women engaged in science and technology is better for the economy, it’s better for society.

 

Yet, I would like to say a few words about another thing which I hope you’ve learned together, from each other and from your mentors and councillors: I would like for all of you to understand the hopes that we have put on you also becoming leaders in your communities, in your class, in your friendship circles.

 

It’s of fundamental importance that the lessons you have learned here in Kosovo, the friendships you have forged across the border and language barriers, the emotions you have felt, inspire you to not only pass your knowledge but also enable change.

To illustrate what are our modest expectations from you, I’ll say we expect you to be butterflies. 

 

Yes, butterflies.

 

As you may know, in science and mathematics, the butterfly effect says that a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. This happens in weather modelling. A very small change in initial conditions, a minor perturbation — such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly, several weeks later can cause a tornado in the opposite side of the world.

 

So butterflies can cause tornadoes.

 

We want — no, we know — you girls are the future creators of tornados. You will challenge and disrupt the business-as-usual in which men will define what is an acceptable job for women, you will disrupt notions that only men can inherit wealth from parents, you will not allow for your women peers to be downtrodden or discriminated only because of your gender.

This is the type of leadership we expect from you. Mathematically sound, empirically proven, coded in emotional intelligence and empathy — leadership of change.

 

There are many people to thank on behalf of MFK for this amazing, amazing summer camp, but allow me to only mention three: Bailey from GirlUp, who has impressed me with her engaging personality and involvement, Shqipe from MCC who worked on the backend to ensure various partners are connected and interactions are established, and Rina who helped summer camp look and feel as a platform of change, from crazy, silver tote bags to our overwhelming social media presence.

 

 

Date: 02.09.2019