Visiting Oxford

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The last week of March, I got to do something I probably never would have done, unless I was in the Fellowship–I went to Oxford for the first time in my life.  Strangely enough, it was the first time visiting England (beyond the airport).  The experience was quite nice, but the weather was exactly what they say about England–unpredictable.  On the first day, as Jon, Catherine and I were walking around Oxford (the pre-tour-tour that Jon forced us to go on 🙂 it was a beautiful day as we stepped out of the Bates Motel, (Oops, I mean the Best Western).  Twenty minutes later it was a beautiful day again.  In between, there was extreme wind, rain, sleet, hail, and snow–then sunshine!  Quiet odd, indeed.

Anyhow, being in Oxford gives you one feeling (besides the feeling that you are on a Harry Potter film set).  It is the feeling of wanting to leave all that you are doing and come study philosophy or literature or history at Oxford–it is a very powerful feeling.  Not sure if others feel the same way when they first come to Oxford, but you just get a strong urge to return to school.

Anyhow, the week at Oxford was really enjoyable.  The highlight was reconnecting with the Fellows and hearing about their experiences, challenges, highs, lows–and how plans of life might drastically be changing for some, and remaining the same for others.

Also, the Skoll World Forum ending up being more interesting than I thought it would be.  It was a great time to connect with people from different parts of the world, hear about new ideas, what is working, what is not, etc.  With all the positive take-aways from the forum, I had one reservation:  SWF didnt realy seem like a ‘World’ forum…more like a ‘Western World Forum’ or ‘Developed World Forum’.  Dont get me wrong, there were people there from the developing world but it seemed as they were definitely in a minority, almost seemed like a handful.  Several of the speakers (people well known in the SE cirlces) on the panels were from the developing world, but a poor showing in terms of participants. Adding one step further, judging from the participants list, I could probably count the number of people from the ‘muslim’ world on my hands.  I do not think it is the end of the world if the conference was not as representative as a world conference should be, but my concern is that we need to involve people from ALL over the globe if we want to begin to engage, understand, and then, solve the problems of the world.  Maybe the folks at SWF did try and reach out to the developing world/muslim world and they did not feel like paying the 300 pounds registration fee (or maybe they just couldnt afford it), but we need to start thinking of ways to increase the diversity in such conferences/forums.

Maybe that is just me….but I did hear similar voices amongst some of the participants as well.  

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