On August 12, 2013, one and a half years after the groundbreaking ceremony of the International Center of Interdisciplinary Science Education [ICISE], an impressive building was inaugurated in Quy Nhon, Central Vietnam. The Vietnamese government, along with many internationally recognized, prestigious universities and institutions in physics, strongly endorsed this initiative.
The ICISE is part of an ambitious project planned by Professors Tran Thanh Van and Le Kim Ngoc, as part of the work of the Association “Rencontres du Vietnam”. This non-profit organization was created in 1996 to contribute to scientific development in Vietnam. It was born out of the success of the Rencontres de Moriond and of the Rencontres de Blois, two recurrent conferences that have been organized for the past 48 and 24 years respectively. The founder, Jean Tran Thanh Van, is well known for his role in bringing together physics communities from across national and cultural borders, and for his tireless efforts to build a modern scientific community in Vietnam. In recognition of his efforts in this field, and of his contribution to physics, he has been awarded several distinctions, such as the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the Russian Academic of Sciences, the Légion d’Honneur, and the 2011 John Torrence Tate Award for International Leadership in Physics. Through ICISE’s facilities and together with the scientific communities, he will also encourage and host scientific exchanges between the Asian Pacific countries and within a worldwide framework.
Despite heavy rain, the ICISE’s inauguration took place within a very formal setting in the presence of five Nobel laureates in Physics, Sheldon Lee Glashow, David J. Gross, Klaus von Klitzing, George Smoot, and Jack Steinberger. The Fields Medal laureate Prof. Ngô Bâo Châu, the Deputy Prime Minister Nguyên Thiên Nhân, the Minister of Sciences and Technology of Vietnam Nguyên Quân, the CERN General Director Rolf Heuer, the President of the American Physical Society Michael S. Turner, in addition to several officials of prestigious institutes/ institutions (CERN, IN2P3, JINR Dubna, etc.) also attended the event. More than two hundred foreign and national scientists and several Vietnamese socio-political personalities were present. The ceremony was broadcast on national television and reported in the newspapers.
Today ICISE offers excellent working conditions with state of the art technical infrastructure required for conferences (e.g., auditoriums, seminar rooms, internet access, audio and video systems). It is located in a wooded and peaceful location, near a sandy beach; just far enough from the urban center to ensure the calm needed for reflection, but close enough to walk there, along the coast through a nice forest. In a later phase, this area will be enriched with a planetarium, built in the hills of the site, an exhibition hall and a library. In a next step, an engineering school, created in collaboration with French and foreign universities, will also join the site, and a resort hotel is planned in order to house the participants of conferences.
The participants at the opening ceremony heard speeches and official statements highlighting the efforts of Van and Kim in recent years to carry out their project. They themselves expressed their thanks for the support they received. As participants and conference organizers, it is our turn to thank them for making such a beautiful structure in Southeast Asia a reality.