OES minds meeting in Vienna

On Friday 24th April, OES members and their guests met in beautiful Vienna on the occasion of the Oxford Alumni “Meeting Minds” Weekend in Europe.

We met at the Welcome Reception in the sumptuous Festsaal of 19th Century gothic Rathaus to hear the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor open the proceedings for the weekend of lectures, walking tours and other events which are held in different cities around the world at this time each year.   The aim of the meeting is to bring together Oxford alumni old and new.

After the Reception we repaired to the Weiner Restaurant where we had arranged to meet the others in our group and what a diverse group we were! Our national and residential backgrounds included Welsh, English, Ukrainian, Slovakian, Austrian, German, Georgian, Korean, American and Turkish – but we all shared in common a passion and commitment to education at all different levels. Encouraged by Nina, the dinner concluded with a series of ‘Georgian toasts’ to education, technology, organisation, the Department of Education, Jerome Bruner, the red sofas in the common room – and of course, to each other!

On Saturday, an Academic Programme was held at the Orangery of the baroque palace of the Schönbrunn, the home of the Hapsburgs. The first session, chaired by the Chancellor Chris Patten was a panel discussion on the situation in the Ukraine and the second was a fascinating glimpse into the influential Viennese art, literature and music of the fin de siècle 19th century chaired by the BBC’s Bethany Bell.  In addition there was a variety of organised activities for us to take part in – walks exploring the musical, architectural and cultural history of Vienna and a formal dinner.   On the Sunday there was even the opportunity to learn Viennese Waltzing!  And all of this in fabulous spring weather!

This is the first time that the Oxford Education Society has participated in this event as an alumni association and we hope that it won’t be the last. Feedback from the weekend show that OES members clearly value and relish the opportunity to meet each other on these formal and informal social occasions, especially when they are outside Oxford and the UK. The challenge for our Country Champions and ultimately, the OES committee and the Department, is to enable more conversations and networking opportunities for our members all over the world and to explore new ways of connecting with each other in our busy lives.

  • The ‘Meeting Minds’ weekend was splendid. I enjoyed every moment of my time in Vienna. We got off to a good start with a glittering reception in the magnificent Rathaus (city hall), where I met Miss Eunsook Park, alumna of Education [and OES member], as seen in the photo.
  • Yes it was a great night with plenty of good good, wine, company and laughter!!
  • I enjoyed the dinner a lot, as it provided the possibility to get to know colleagues from different countries. I had the possibility to discuss with other Country Champions the strategy on promoting the Oxford Education Society on the international level.
  • I enjoyed the most the fact that I could reconnect to the Education Society and to find out that it is a very open minded group of people. I was a bit worried that I would not fit in as I am not really a researcher nor a practitioner. But this worry has entirely disappeared…

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