Sep 2018 - May 2020
I was most excited to be visiting Palo Alto in March and after receiving permission from my better half, my flight was booked and I was invited to stay in a fabulous house with party-loving friends from my cohort.
I was going to Silicon Valley to learn about entrepreneurial finance and meet some of the greats in this gladiatorial tech arena.
Life is inherently unpredictable. Covid-19 interrupted my trip of indulgence. Instead, I was to sit in my home in London glued to a screen using the latest video conferencing platform to learn about investing in and raising funds for venture capital.
Oxford University is known for its cogitation when it comes to new ideas but I would suggest it adapted with lightning speed to our new reality. Respecting physical distancing, we embraced digital social proximity. Even a decade ago this would have been unimaginable. The teachers showed incredible agility in this unprecedented situation. We were introduced to brilliant speakers, virtually. We enjoyed class lectures and videos replicating school learning. And the cohort was encouraged to and certainly did participate in class.
I think the efforts from SBS were Herculean. But so much is lost without physical presence. Full body language and tactility are important for humans. And learning often happens in random moments and not just when everything is ordered and efficient.
The Colleges should not give up their Formal Hall gatherings where students of all disciplines come together over a comforting meal and engage in meandering discourse. The virus will pass and the Oxford traditions will remain as appealing as ever in the pursuit of learning.
I will be a little older when I visit Palo Alto but perhaps that is a good thing. It will be just as much fun. And indeed there will be time.
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