Archive for March, 2009

End of Hillary Term

March 7, 2009 - 4:08 pm No Comments

An update is long overdue – so much has happened over the past few months in my volunteer work, extracurricular activities, and my school life. Life only seems to become increasingly busy. In no particular order, I’ve listed them below:

1. YouthBank’s Pitch for Idea Idol (http://www.oxfordentrepreneurs.co.uk/events/idea-idol/): The auditorium was packed – I estimate about 400 people showed up for the final event! I did the best I could to present YouthBank’s concept, model, and impact in a short 2-minute pitch and 5-minute Q&A session. We ended up winning the People’s Choice Award by a wide margin, although the judges ended up opting for the pure-profit, technology-driven ideas in the allocation of the grand prize money. Although five hundred pounds of prize money isn’t significant from a financial perspective, the amount of positive feedback, support, and interest that I received for YouthBank exceeded all my expectations. I truly enjoyed presenting our concept; the energy and enthusiasm of the audience is something I will remember for a long time. Regardless, we’re set to launch our first full center this summer, with new board members, team members, and grant money buoying our efforts. Photos of the event can be found here: http://www.oxfordentrepreneurs.co.uk/media/photos/album/idea-idol-2009/

2. Givology Featured in Knowledge@ Wharton (http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=2159): Catherine and Danielle got us an amazing amount of press coverage and interest through their podcast on Knowledge@Wharton. After the printing of this article, so many prospective partners and volunteers contacted me, and we witnessed a surge in donor registrations and amount of money donated. Most recently, we got a large batch of student profiles from the Peace Nursery and Primary School in Uganda (https://www.givology.org/~peaceprimary/), which provides boarding and schooling to AIDS and civil war orphans. We’re in the process of building a campaign around this school to raise funding for worthy projects and student scholarships. Our initiative to get chapters started is slowly paying off – so many fundraisers are on the horizon at Penn, and I’m slowly making progress on getting a chapter registered at Oxford.

3. Oxbridge Debate on the Relevance of the Asian Tigers at Cambridge – Having never been to Cambridge before, I jumped on the opportunity to debate at the Cambridge University Asia Law & Business Association annual conference. The 3 vs. 3 Parliamentary style debate was on the topic of the economic relevance of the Asian Tigers in light of the growth of China and the financial crisis. We won the debate; my finance and economics background proved to be useful especially in light of our limited preparation! I realized during the event how much I truly miss the excitement and intensity of debate and public speaking; I wish there was some way for me to continue competing in an alternative style to Parliamentary. Afterwards, we went punting, where I discovered the beauty of Cambridge (I must admit, I found it much more picturesque than Oxford).

4. Education Without Borders Conference (Dubai) – I will be going to Dubai to present a critical analysis paper I submitted to the Education Without Borders conference on “Online Marketplace for Education: Leveraging the Internet for Creative Microphilanthropy Solutions” (Case Study on Givology). The paper can be found here: https://www.givology.org/multimedia/. I’m really looking forward to being a panelist – there’s no better way to get students and key opinion leaders in education excited about Givology and to share our mission and vision. I expect we’ll make lots of useful contacts

5. Gordon Brown’s Romanes Lecture at the Sheldonian Theatre (http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2009/090227_1.html) – I had a chance to hear the Prime Minister of the UK speak last Friday on “Science and our Economic Future”. Overall, I found the talk very enjoyable, though not particularly insightful. (From the talk, I gathered the general sentiment that anyone who pursues science contributes the future of innovation and progress in Britain, while any professional association with finance automatically casts you as a pariah…) I found Brown very eloquent, humorous, and engaging; in my opinion, the most important insight was the necessity of promoting better quality science education. In countries such as China and India more than 80% of college students major in the sciences. In the US and UK, however, only approximately 18% pursue a science degree. Without the “importation” of scientists from abroad, the US economy, known for its dynamism and comparative advantage in human capital, would certainly suffer a drop in innovation and productivity! Alas, perhaps concentrating in the liberal arts is in effect a “luxury” available only to certain social strata given that its main payoff is in the expansion of the mind, not some tangible production of a good. I found the talk particularly ironic, especially set at Oxford, where the ivory tower extends formidably to the sky, irreverent of the passage of time.

6. Swan Lake @ New Theatre – If only Grace arrived one day earlier, then we would have seen Swan Lake Together! I know the music by heart, having watched an anime version of Swan Lake, released in 1978, at least hundreds of times while growing up (http://cbl.orcein.net/swanprincess/misc1/anime.htm). I suppose I am doomed to like anime for the rest of my life; even as a child, not cognizant of the existence of the genre, I found myself gravitating to Hakucho no Mizumi.

7. Varsity Ice Hockey Game – Although we trained very hard in preparation for the game against Cambridge in Peterborough, we lost quite badly. I never realized how big of a deal one game can possibly be, or how pumped and inspired people get. In general, I was quite astounded by the pomp and ceremony of the event, from the ceremonial puck drop the ice cuts in between periods. Nevertheless, given that the game culminates the season and represents the apex of all our efforts, it’s a rather disappointing game. A lot of different factors contributed to our loss. I wish I could have made a greater difference; in the end, even though I worked hard every shift, I didn’t play very smart hockey.

8. Grace’s Visit – Gracie is here! I’ve waited for this day for the past three months! I’ve made a list of things of everything we need to do, from dinner at Christ Church, evensong at New College, a concert at the Sheldonian, and a trip to Blenheim Palace, among other things. Oh, my darling little sister, I promise you the best experience ever! (And I suppose given that next week is the last week of term, skipping *a few* classes won’t set me back too far)