The International Space University’s (ISU) annual alumni conference lasted from 27 to 29 July 2023. Fifteen ISU alumni came from all over the world to join the SSP23 alumni staff and participants in Sao José dos Campos, Brazil. They assemble for an unforgettable reunion and celebration of ISU’s 35th Space Studies Program, coordinated by SSP22 alumnus Erik Busnello Imbuzeiro.
SSP22 alumnus Leonard de Guzman summarizes this gathering in the write-up below. Read on!
“SSP23 Alumni Conference kicked off with a stunning visit to Paraty to explore the incredible natural beauty Brazil has to offer. Being amongst the greenery in the mountains and getting out onto the water to experience the ocean’s gentle waves. The traditional SSP culture night wrapped up our first day, with the UK, Italy, Israel, and the Netherlands showcasing their cultures for all to enjoy – thank you for the stroopwafel!! I still have some stroopwafels leftover from when I was a participant at SSP22 in Oeiras, Portugal, and am happily adding to my stash after this year’s Alumni Conference!
On Friday, we were hosted at the National Institute of Space Research (INPE), a research unit of the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, which included a visit to their satellite assembly and testing facilities, as well as learning about the Embrace Program – Brazilian Studies and Monitoring of Space Weather. We had the unique experience of a churrascaria for lunch (what others may know more colloquially as a Brazilian steakhouse), sampling delicious preparations of beef, pork, and chicken. The SSP23 participants did not disappoint with their Space Masquerade costumes, with Cat-Women of the Moon and Canada Arm tied for best individual costume, and a crew capsule from India winning the best group costume. It brought back wonderful memories of when I was a participant last year, trying to convince 14 other of my fellow participants to join me in building space station modules out of foam and cardboard, then “dressing up” as a space station!
Finally, on Saturday, we enjoyed a wonderfully prepared brunch before visiting the Brazilian Aerospace Memorial, an indoor-outdoor museum, and making a slight unscheduled detour to a food festival, which again did not disappoint (a recurring theme for all things Brazilian cuisine)! And whilst we may not have spotted the elusive capybara, we did spot evidence of their presence, which was good enough.
A huge Thank You to the Local Organizing Committee of SSP23, the Brazilian Space Agency, the National Institute of Space Research, the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, and ISU for hosting such a wonderful and memorable Alumni Conference. It gave many of us the chance to reconnect and rekindle relationships after many years apart, and it gave the opportunity for newer members of the alumni community (like myself) the chance to genuinely feel part of the international ISU family. It’s one thing to complete an SSP and call oneself an “alum”. It’s a whole enriching and empowering experience to attend an Alumni Conference and genuinely feel part of the family. Thank You!”