While the IOI team is busy during the week of the IOI, this series of blogs is being written by team leader, Joshua Lau.
Today is the rest day between the two competition days, which doubles as the first official excursion day! In the morning, Kevin, Logan (our good friend and New Zealand team leader), and I joined the students on a much-awaited tour of the Azerbaijan Carpet museum (bonus points if you connected this to the title). Our students have been excitedly anticipating this excursion for months now, and it was well worth it!
It was fascinating to see exhibitions of how traditional Azerbaijani carpets have been hand-woven throughout the centuries: our guide insisted that no authentic Azerbaijani carpet is ever woven by machine. In particular, we were told that an experienced craftsperson can only weave 5cm of length of these carpets in a single day! This just adds to the wonder and beauty of the carpets with the most intricate patterns on display. We also learned about the historical context and significance of these carpets, and how techniques for designing and weaving carpets have evolved throughout the centuries; I thought it was cool that the invention of grid paper made patterns distributable and transferrable!
Lunch was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Four Seasons Hotel. From there, together with the New Zealand team, we diverged from the rest of the group (who visited Icherisheher, which we had visited on the day of our arrival), and instead attempted to make our way to the historic Ateshgah Temple of Fire, a true monument of the “Land of Fire”. Unfortunately, due to a failure of the Taxi app on my phone, only the students with Kevin and Logan managed to make it there, with Ryan, Tunan, and I returning to the Athletes’ Village instead. Nevertheless, photos of their trip are provided below!
Upon the return of Angus, Timmy, and Kevin to the Athletes’ Village, some final words of wisdom and encouragement were disseminated, and the new team catch-cry (“I AM subtasks / Not yet / *Screaming*” vocalised in the little Azerbaijani our guide Fidan has taught us: this is a play on the iconic “I am the Senate” scene from Star Wars) hollered by all. From there, Kevin and I entered quarantine at our hotel, to view and vote on the second day’s problems, nervously knowing there was no more we could do to help the students…