The Oxford Experience

by T.D McCay, Ph.D.

The FIT president and I had a chance to open our classes in Oxford this year.  High table was enjoyable as always but we graduated to the Fellows room at Jesus College so our normal backdrop was missing, i.e., paintings of Queen Elizabeth I who founded the college and some of the famous Jesus College (one of 38 University of Oxford Colleges) graduates, like T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia.  You can go to their library and read the handwritten thesis that Lawrence wrote for his degree.  History abounds everywhere there.  One day we went down to the little pub where Tolkien and CS Lewis sat every day.  My own writing was much improved after a fish and chips and a couple of pints of English summer ale.

A visit there always needs to include a little Shakespeare and we finished the trip off with a train ride to Stratford-upon-Avon where we saw Patrick Stewart (Star Trek and X-Men) give a great performance as Shylock in the Merchant of Venice.  It just goes to show that talent surfaces, whether it may be on a starship or in a Shakespearean theater.

I wish all our students could make the Oxford trip.  Perhaps someday we can figure out a way to make that happen.  There is so much more to being educated than knowing your own subject and the students who visit Oxford find that out quickly, powerfully and most pleasantly.

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