The Oxbridge alumni forum over the Queen’s birthday weekend was a long weekend of going back to college life. Talks, lengthy and impassioned discussions, good food prepared at regular times, playtime and relaxation in between – the main difference was that no-one had to write an essay.
This second Oxbridge alumni gathering has been a terrific success. Building on the experience of last year, we scheduled the bulk of talk to happen in the morning so every day after breakfast we all went up to the yoga platform – which served as a lecture hall beyond compare – to listen to and enjoy three talks. The speakers presented many varied and fascinating subjects: scenario planning in the energy industry, working with youth in crisis, the anthropology of work, the myth of happiness, the fate of natural history collections after natural disasters, nurturing intelligence, suing the US Treasury for lying about the greenback dollar..and more. Speakers were pretty dutiful in keeping to the allotted 20 minutes, and there was then time for questions and discussions afterwards.
There is a great satisfaction in being presented with short, clear talks on a fresh subject outside one’s normal field and clearly everyone relished the opportunity to listen and then discuss the ideas at greater length over lunch and dinner. It was exciting to see the fertilization of ideas across disciplines, and many people took notes and promised to exchange further thoughts in the development of an idea. One speaker chose to use the gathering as a ‘soft launch’ for a paper she had to present at a forthcoming conference, and was rewarded with both the enthusiasm of the audience and some helpful criticism on ironing out the glitches.
Then there’s the down time in between sessions, when there was a mixture of Things To Do and Time for Naps. Things To Do: snorkeling on the reef, picnicing on the beach, visiting a village…..and yes, naps – well, why not? This was a holiday in the tropics, after all. In the evening we had some talks from outside presenters, one on the marine life of Fiji’s reefs and one on the black pearl farming of Savusavu. We also had a quiz night convincingly won by a team who scored 48 out of a possible 50.
And here’s one of the questions posed – and a prize for the first person who sends a correct reply to me at firstname.lastname@example.org : they will receive a bottle of champagne at the next Oxbridge forum in Fiji scheduled for July 3 – 8 2015.
What animal runs faster than a horse, can go without water longer than a camel, and can see behind itself without turning its head?
And here are a whole lot more photos of a very happy long weekend: