Volume 1 Issue 3 Trinity 2012
THE CLARENDON CHRONICLE Newsletter of the Clarendon Scholars’ Association
Garden of Delight Cupcakes, Pimms, strawberries and a sunny afternoon provided the perfect setting for the Annual Garden Party of the Clarendon Scholars’ Association, held on June 17th in the Fellow’s Garden of Merton College. The event presented an opportunity for on-going and leaving scholars to reflect on the 2011/12 academic year. Plates of hand-decorated cupcakes, gourmet sandwiches and punchbowls full of G&T and Pimms ensured all were well fed and watered during the afternoon.
Many attended and all thoroughly enjoyed the event, thanks to the prowess and hard work of the council members and volunteers who, in addition to organizing the event, did a stellar job serving food and drinks all afternoon. The Garden Party was a fine end to the social calendar of the Scholars’ Association last year. But as new scholars come in, and with Michaelmas Term about to start, we can look forward to an exciting year ahead. Enjoy! —Hannah Wills and Thomas Tam
IN THIS ISSUE 1 2 2 3
Garden of Delight President’s Message From the Rad Cam to the Eiffel Tower! Saying ‘No’ to Chauvinism in Hong Kong Schools
4 5 6 6
Meeting Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Make a Difference: Kenya Teaching Medicine in Nepal Farewell Bar Night
Message from the President Dear Scholars, Michaelmas 2012 is the start of a new era for our scholarship community. The Clarendon Fund has been opened to students from all over the world, enabling a record 150 Scholars to begin their graduate study at Oxford. On behalf of the Clarendon Council, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to our new students—we look forward to meeting you! Michaelmas term can feel like a blur, you will be swamped with all sorts of extra-curricular activities across the university, but we hope you can find the time to get to know your fellow Clarendon Scholars. I can certainly recommend them as the most erudite, fun-loving and imaginative grad students in town. To those Scholars who, like me, are finishing up as ‘on-course’ Clarendons this month (and entering the dreaded fourth year!), I would like to reiterate that you are treasured members of our community – once a Clarendon, always a Clarendon – and always welcome at our events (No! wait, you are expected at our events!). So I will see you all, old and new, for a glass of champagne at our Annual Reception on 20 November. Best wishes for the coming term,
Claire Higgins President of the Clarendon Scholars’ Association 2011/2012
Rad Cam to the Eiffel Tower!
Many terms ago, some intrepid Oxford grads had a crazy idea—cycle to Paris! Why not? Easter weekend 2012 saw their plans come to fruition. A group of Clarendons and nonClarendons gathered in the early morning light at the Radcliffe Camera to say ‘adieu’ to their Oxford home, panniers packed to the brim with malt loaf and chocolate. Some had fancy racing bikes, others beaten down hire bikes, and the level of cycling experience amongst the group varied considerably. For five days they pedalled, whizzing down steep coastal hills, crashing in cheap motels, snoozing on the ferry, and enjoying amazing hospitality in a tiny village called Forges-les-Eaux. They were blessed with sunshine, patisseries that were open on Easter Sunday (thank goodness!), and an abundance of croissants.
As they caught their first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower from atop the hilly suburbs of Paris a light spring rain began to fall, marking the end of their adventure and rendering this iconic destination all the more beautiful in the late afternoon sun.
—Claire Higgins and James Hillis Claire is a DPhil student in History at Merton, and James is at Magdalen, doing a DPhil in Neuroscience.
THE CLARENDON CHRONICLE – Newsletter of the Clarendon Scholars’ Association
n i m s i n i v u a h C o t ’ o N ‘ g s l o o h c S g Sayin n o K g n o H
What could possibly bring a botanist, a cancer biologist, a linguist, and a philosopher together—outside of college or a pub? Answer: The common belief that education shouldn’t be used as a political tool. Schools around the world may promote patriotism in one way or another—as long as doing so doesn’t sacrifice a balanced historical account or conflate patriotism with devotion to the governing party. Yet in Hong Kong, a special administrative region in China with its own political system and capitalist economy, this is just what’s been proposed via a mandatory national education curriculum. A government-endorsed manual suggests, for example, that while Communist Party rule ensures effective governance, multi-party democracy leads to chaos. In recent months, tens of thousands of parents, teachers, students, and other concerned citizens in Hong Kong have peacefully protested against mandatory national education, and in particular, the content of the proposed curriculum. Some even went on a hunger strike for over a week. While we – a small group of Clarendon scholars and other Oxford students – couldn’t join the protests in Hong Kong, we joined the protest in solidarity outside the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London on Saturday, 8 September.
We protested against the proposed curriculum because although it sensibly includes a history of modern China, it misleadingly focuses on the achievements of the Communist Party at the neglect of major events— including the oppressive and violent Cultural Revolution as well as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. In addition, although its promotion of patriotism may be, by itself, unproblematic, it wrongly conflates patriotism with devotion to the ruling party. Later on that same day, the Hong Kong government, which until then had refused to budge, announced that the curriculum would be made voluntary rather than mandatory. This was a step forward; but that the curriculum remains unchanged, and that schools are paid to adopt the curriculum, means that the curriculum remains objectionable. For more details about the proposed curriculum, refer to the official guide: http://bit.ly/RHJIbv.
—May Chan, Fenix Leung, Thomas Tam, and Andy Yu May Chan is Wilkinson Junior Research Fellow at Worcestor College, Fenix Leung is a DPhil student in Oncology at Brasenose, Andy Yu is at Balliol doing a DPhil in Philosophy, and Thomas Tam is a DPhil student in Plant Sciences at Christ Church.
Volume 1 Issue 3 – Trinity Term 2012
Photograph by May Chan
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi The University of Oxford has touched global politics in many ways. Through the education of future world leaders, the University instills principles and passions for shaping society to better the life of individuals worldwide. This is illustrated none better than in the life of Aung San Suu Kyi. June 20th, 2012 was a remarkable day that I will never forget. It was the day that I met Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner. As a young woman born and raised in Burma, I was very proud and delighted to hear of Daw Suu Kyi’s visit to Oxford to accept her honorary doctorate at Encaenia, and excited by the possibility of meeting this iconic figure in the history of my country. Given the political suppression within Burma in the past, I would never have dreamed of meeting her in person, let alone meeting her at Oxford. Even though it was just a quick minute, it was an amazing historical moment in my life, rivaled only by my acceptance to study at Oxford. Since many Burmese consider her a mother of Burma, I introduced myself and readily addressed her as Mother Suu. She kindly looked into my eyes and said ‘Which college are you from,
daughter?’ She showed a sincere and caring smile that made my day. Her bright eyes expressed a genuine kindness and care as if I were her daughter. When I heard her kind voice and gesture, words cannot describe how overjoyed I was to have met and shaken hands with this amazing lady with phenomenal courage! It was a moment that I will cherish forever. I was very touched by her speech describing how Burma has a long way to go, taking steps inch by difficult inch, and relating to her own experiences fighting for democracy despite being under house arrest for the past 15 years. She has had to make a very difficult choice between being with her family and fighting for human rights in Burma. Her hard work and sacrifice are starting to bear fruit. She has finally won a seat within the Burmese parliament and was the first foreign woman and citizen of Asia to deliver a speech before both houses of the British Parliament. As a Burmese woman, I am extremely proud of her strength and stamina over the past decades. She is a true mother of our country, a heroine for humanity who offers inspiration and hope to millions of Burmese people.
‘It was a moment that I will cherish forever.’ Special thanks to Miss Claire Higgins for giving me information about Encaenia, to Miss Penelope Alden for requesting the ticket to Encaenia, to my supervisors Dr James Edwards and Dr Claire Edwards for their support and taking me to the Encaenia garden party, to Principal Keith Gull at St Edmund Hall for taking me around the Sheldonian theatre after the Encaenia ceremony to meet Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, to the Clarendon Fund Scholarship for supporting my study at Oxford, and to the Clarendon Chronicle Team for making this newsletter possible.
—Seint Lwin Seint (St Edmund Hall) is a secondyear DPhil student in the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences.
THE CLARENDON CHRONICLE – Newsletter of the Clarendon Scholars’ Association
Make a Difference: Kenya A delivering mother’s agony pierces my heart as she continuously cries in pain. No anaesthetic. No lights. A wooden bench covered in a pool of blood. She continues to yell, begging me to get it over with. The walls now painted with tears of joy and pain, our group of students could see the head of her newborn girl. This was the chaotic Labor and Delivery Unit at the ‘highly equipped’ Tigoni Medical Center in Nairobi, Kenya. As I handed the mother her delicate infant, I felt a special sense of liberation and meaning which motivates my inner being to this very day.
Yet what was I really doing in Kenya? As I explored the dirt roads, broken slums, and orphanages across Kenya, a dominant force of introspection took over: why do these individuals live in such pain and poverty? If we are all one global community, then is it not my responsibility to ensure a better life for the Kenyan people as well? Is there anything of significance I can actually accomplish here? Malnutrition, poverty, sickness, and indescribable socioeconomic conditions surrounded me. And what was I actually to do? So I got to work. During my stay in Kenya, I volunteered at the local hospital, coordinated an HIV clinic, taught science classes at the local elementary school, and even had time to help out a nearby orphanage. With patience and dedication, I was able to develop a strong relationship with many of the students in my class, as well as with several children in the orphanage. Beyond science, medicine, and even politics, we discussed the power of hope, the meaning of life, and the reward of hard work. As I spoke to these children about the promise of their future, I could see an infinite sense of inner joy penetrating
their eyes. There was hope, they did believe in themselves, even amidst their very difficult lives. All they needed was encouragement, a caring teacher, and a world which is willing to give them a chance to reach their potential. As Clarendon Scholars at Oxford University we may very easily remain exclusively focused on our academic success. The development of science may be confined to the lab, the promises of politics may be forgotten, and children like those in Kenya may be left to struggle for yet another generation. But we can also give back to the world in ways nobody else can, as scholars who have been endowed with the opportunity to study at such a prestigious institution. Reach out, lend a hand, extend your solutions to the problems of others, and make a difference in the world. This is our duty, this is our calling, and together we will surely make for a better tomorrow that we can all benefit from, as one.
—Benjamin Jacob Hayempour Benjamin is a first-year DPhil student in Radiation Oncology at St Peter’s College.
Volume 1 Issue 3 – Trinity Term 2012
As Clarendon Scholars, we often hear and talk about developing a global community. Along these lines, the universality of medicine is incredible. I recently had the opportunity to teach medical students at the Patan Academy of Health Sciences (PAHS) in Nepal, and it felt like I could just as easily have been in the United Kingdom (or indeed Australia). The course followed a similar structure and the content was essentially the same, albeit with a greater focus on infectious diseases. Even health workforce issues, such as doctor shortages in rural and mountainous regions, paralleled my two ‘home’ countries. There are many challenges facing medicine over the coming century: the ballooning costs of healthcare as technology advances, the restructuring of the medical workforce as more patients are treated in the community rather than in hospitals, and the need for further implementation of preventative healthcare. These challenges are shared in our countries, and we are searching for similar solutions. Having similar goals doesn’t necessarily make achieving them easier, but at least we strive to do so together.
Teaching Medicine in Nepal Patan’s World Heritage Listed Durbar Square, complete with rooftop cafe— the perfect place to prepare the next day’s teaching.
— James Hillis
James (Magdalen College) is a DPhil Student in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.
Farewell Bar Night On the 21st of June 2012 the Clarendon Scholars’ Association organized a bar tab in the Royal Oak pub to bid farewell to those of us who have completed their studies. We wish them all the best for their future. Congratulations!
Have you attended a conference, completed fieldwork, or travelled to interesting places? Submit your photos, stories and comments to the newsletter team via email@example.com The Clarendon Chronicle Team: Coordinator: Thomas Tam | Editors: Ramtin Amin, Hem Borker, Connor Brooks, Lise Loerup, Ben Sorgiovanni, Hannah Wills | Graphic Design: Erica Lombard