Hong Kong Reception 2024
Univ’s Main Quad and Oxford’s dreaming spires can feel very distant amongst the skyscrapers of Hong Kong at the best of times, but the distance has felt starker in recent years. Hong Kong’s stringent quarantine requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic period made trips from visitors extremely challenging. So it was a very special treat to start 2024 by coming together to welcome Baroness Amos on her inaugural Hong Kong trip since becoming Master of Univ in 2020.
On the evening of January 9th, The Sky Lounge, perched on the top floor of Hong Kong’s fantastic Upper House Hotel provided an elegant and intimate venue for the Univ drinks reception. The tone of the event was characteristically Univ: dignified and friendly, engaging and inclusive. We had 40 attendees spanning alumni who matriculated over 40 years ago all the way to current students who were in Hong Kong for the holidays. I met a Hong Konger who is currently a tutorial professor at Univ, parents of students at Univ, and partners of our alumni who came along to get a taste of Univ in Hong Kong. And while some of us were lifelong Hong Kongers, many of the attendees found themselves drawn to Hong Kong post Univ, and now call it home, just as we all at some stage called Univ our home. Lots of stories were exchanged on notorious tutorials, memorable college escapades, those nerve racking entrance interviews, and our favourite places to eat and drink.
The highlight of course was meeting Baroness Amos, who was accompanied by Felice Nassar and Harriet Bayly from Univ’s Development Office. They generously shared with us updates and anecdotes on happenings at Univ. As Baroness Amos highlighted in her speech, Hong Kong had the privilege of being her first stop as Univ celebrates its 775th year. For me, this news brought back fond flash backs of the excitement surrounding the 750th anniversary celebration I enjoyed in my 2nd year at Univ, marked by a whimsical May Ball and a visit from Her Majesty The Queen.
But while Univ may be the oldest college, it is not ‘old fashioned’. It was reassuring to hear from Baroness Amos that Univ is making strides to bring the college and the University into a future that is more sustainable, inclusive and open to engagement. This is well reflected in the Univ North project which considers sustainability in terms of the environment as well as building an inclusive intergenerational community on the site. The theme continued into the admissions process, with efforts to not only provide access to students from a wider variety of backgrounds, but also to ensure that once admitted they are well integrated into Oxford life. We couldn’t have someone more accomplished and experienced than Baroness Amos to lead the way on this.
A special thank you to Baroness Amos, Felice and Harriet for coming to spend time with us in Hong Kong and to the team at Univ who helped to organize it, as well as the Swire Group who generously sponsored the drinks reception. It gave us the opportunity to start 2024 by reconnecting with those transformative and treasured years at Univ, and reflecting on how they continue to shape us till today.
Kamni Bharwani (1997, PPE)
Published: 2 February 2024