The pandemic has caused a lot of disruptions in the world. Most meetings and conferences were mostly held virtually. A lot of people miss the interactions they often have with their colleagues. But most CHIC project partners were finally able to meet each other again in person. Last November 2021, the CHIC project held its first-ever 2-day in-person general assembly in Quedlinburg, Germany since the pandemic began. There were a lot of familiar faces that roamed the meeting room and, of course, there were plenty of new faces as well who have joined the project at a later stage.
Dirk Bosch of Wageningen University, the CHIC project coordinator alongside Thorben Sprink of Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Work Package (WP) 4 leader, opened the general assembly with a huge welcome to the partners present as well as others who have joined online. It had been a long time since they last saw any of the partners, and they were glad to see some of them in person again.
Following the introductory session, each WP leader (8 in total) presented their progress report, followed by a 10 min discussion. Everyone really enjoyed the interactions and the lively discussions they had with each other, and there were a lot of questions from the partners. It was good to see everyone to be physically in each other’s presence and have a face-to-face discussion about the project’s progress. After a tasty German lunch, each partner attended at least one of the eight breakout sessions to further discuss the report, its findings, and future results.
After a successful first day, the partners and invited guests got together again for a nice guided city night tour of Quedlinburg. Situated in the northern part of Germany, Quedlinburg is known for its medieval streets lined with half-timbered houses. A spectacular Quedlinburg Castle sits atop a hill overlooking the city. A beautiful Romanesque-style Church of St. Servatius is located inside the castle. The church houses the tomb of the 10th-century German king Henry I. After a splendid tour of the city, the partners sat together for a wonderful dinner where they ate delicious local German cuisine at a famous local restaurant, Brauhaus Lüdde, with its historic private brewery and hotel. It was such a wonderful night of laughing, sharing stories, and just enjoying each other’s company.
The second day of the general assembly included members of the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) where they had the chance to speak with CHIC partners to further discuss the project’s progress. The members were grateful to be present and learn more about the project from the partners. The Head of Institute at JKI, Dr. Ralf Wilhelm, shared the history of the institute and the kind of projects that they have been involved in in the past. The CHIC partners were certainly very grateful for organizing the event and its hospitality in hosting these amazing and talented plant researchers and scientists. The day was not complete without the special lecture from Prof. Dr. Jens Boch of Institut für Pflanzengenetik, where he discussed genome editing using TALENs.
After a prolonged period of uncertainties due to the pandemic, CHIC partners were glad to have met each other in person again as the project moves forward to its final year.