A very dynamic community, bubbling with ideas, and full of people who want to bring their contribution to making the world a better place. That is how I would describe Oxford, and it is also why I am so pleased to be here. At the introduction session to the MPhil in Economics, I was shocked when our professors told us we would not have time for anything besides studying during the first year, even suggesting we should not go to seminars! I did not follow this advice. There is so much more going on that it would have been a pity not to take the most of my (short) time here. I also needed something to remind me that the rest of the world still goes on outside of the university bubble.
I therefore tried out societies: the university’s Environment & Ethics group, Food Justice, Teach Green, the Oxford Greenpeace group, etc. There is such a wealth and variety of them that you will certainly find something that suits you. I remember my first Greenpeace meeting: half the people there were ladies of my grandmother’s age. They were so lively and kind to me that I got involved in the group. It was very inspiring to see such dedicated people, as well as a great way to meet actual local people.
It is on an evening in January at the Turf Tavern that I took the next big step. I was with two Swiss friends from Lincoln, Anic and Jonathan. We shared many common interests, which often brought us to passionate discussions, and there was this climate change campaign idea that a friend from London had just suggested I start in Oxford. I had thought “why not, if I manage to bring people on board?” So I asked them if they were willing to try this out. We barely had any campaigning experience, let alone experience in setting one up ourselves, but there is something in this town that makes you feel you can do it. They said yes! The Push Your Parents campaign was born.
Anic did not know anything about investment and Jonathan only very little. Yet, with help from my London friend, we were going to try to get parents to lobby their pension fund into acting on the climate change impact of their investments. The idea was that students – the ones who will be affected by climate change – ask their parents to email their pension fund for the sake of their children – who they care about.
Oxford is a very fertile ground for one’s own ideas and projects. Now, a year later, we have managed to have a running campaign, to recruit motivated people and to raise a lot of interest. Even the Guardian published an article on our project! But more importantly, we are having so much fun. I certainly learned more through this experience than from all my courses during these two years. I am so glad I did not listen to my lecturers.
Oxford, 19th March 2014
Antoine is studying for an MPhil in Economics