This was a long weekend of delightful indulgence for us. We invited the alumni of our own alma maters to come and enjoy each other’s company, and as part of it, give a talk of approximately 15 minutes on a subject of their own choosing – a sort of mini TED talk in the tropics over Easter (yes……this is a very late write-up!)
We had talks on a wide range of subjects: the ethical challenges faced in a career in science, climate change, Vanuatu, the intricacies of planning law in NSW, council politics in Sydney, and some long and informative talks on the history of Fiji and its current political challenges.
There’s a great pleasure in a format that allows people to sit around and talk things through at leisure. Sometimes too much leisure – we learned that we need to enforce stricter time observance. But then, there were times when everyone wanted to continue the discussion and the admonishments of a time bell would have been irksome. The talk on Vanuatu was a case in point: Jean-Frederic Gagne constructed his talk as an Oxford vs Cambridge quiz on the tiny Pacific nation where he is working, and the talk developed from there. (Cambridge won.) Everyone loves a quiz and no-one wanted to cut that short.
In between the cerebral weight lifting there was plenty of time for SCUBA diving, snorkeling, seeing around Savusavu and visiting a nearby village…and the proceedings ended with another quiz, this one of mixed teams which also included other guests at the resort.