With the week approaching its end, studies are accelerating. Final essay deadlines are approaching, and students are giving thought to their projects and presentations: in yesterday’s classes, most students presented their project ideas.
With this ordeal over, there was time to relax with lunch out of college –the pizzeria Papa John’s has proven especially popular— before ORACLE talks in the University of Cambridge’s Law Faculty. ORACLE talks are speeches, followed by questions, given by experts or those with something particular to say; they are somewhat similar to TED talks, in that they communicate important information quickly.
The first speaker was Emily Penn, an inspirational marine conservationist who spends her time aboard a constantly moving boat. Despite studying architecture at Cambridge, she has found that her heart lies with the sea, a perilous place to leave a heart: the seas are increasingly polluted, with over 70 million pounds –nearly 32,000 metric tonnes— of plastics circulating in the oceans’ currents. These plastics are almost entirely non-biodegradable, and are causing enormous harm across the globe. In addition to killing over 100,000 marine mammals every year, the tiny plastics work their way up the food chain to enter humans: Emily Penn tested her own blood, and found 29 chemicals from a list of 35 banned worldwide, purely as a result of eating fish and other marine animals.
After such a sobering talk, it was the turn of Alex Holmes, an anti-bullying ambassador awarded by the Queen for his efforts, to share his thoughts on bullying and acceptance. He spoke about his experiences of bullying when young –his, in a school in London, was often racially motivated— and encouraged the students, as he has been doing up and down the country, to think more about the importance of encouragement and community. To illustrate his point, he had the students write encouraging phrases on stickers for each other: labels, he demonstrated, can be used for good just as much as for bad.
The final talk was by Cameron Parker, a motivational speaker. After presentations on the dying oceans and their needs, and on the state of bullying in schools and what can be done to stamp it out, it was very useful to have a speaker so energetic and encouraging bounce onto the stage and persuade students that they, themselves, have the potential to have key roles in both areas and many more.
In the evening, there was a Latin Dance class in the Bennett Room, and the opportunity to see a performance of Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra in Robinson College.