LUC Reunion in ‘City of Dreaming Spires’

On 16 February, LUC held its first-ever alumni reunion in Oxford. The ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ not just houses the world’s oldest English-speaking university and the real-life locations for the Harry Potter films – it is also home to an ever-growing number of LUC alumni.

Dr Kai Hebel on His Tenure at Oxford University

The reunion was organized by Dr Kai Hebel, who teaches World Politics at LUC. Kai spent a decade at Oxford University, first as an MPhil and then DPhil student in International Relations at St Antony’s College, subsequently as a Lecturer in IR at Lady Margaret Hall (Oxford’s first college to admit women) and finally as Fellow at 703-year old Exeter College (whose graduates include JRR Tolkien, Joseph Nye and the Queen of Spain). ‘I had a fantastic time at Oxford’, Kai reminisces, ‘and it’s always fun to come back to visit the archives in the world-famous Bodleian Library, to visit former colleagues and – of course – to play football with my old team at St Antony’s.’

A lively group of alumni braced the British weather – chilly temperature, heavy rain and Scheveningen-style wind – to attend the reunion (free lunch!), including two former students who had come from London to catch up with friends old and new. One of the Londoners was Jonas Le Thierry (Human Diversity, class of 2017) who is now doing a MSc in Urban Development Planning at University College London. Jonas is still deeply connected to LUC and recently became Evolucio’s International Hubs Manager and the coordinator of the London hub. ‘LUC graduates have a shared and unique identity’, Jonas says. ‘Together with the College, Evolucio wants to develop long-lasting ways of connecting.’

Among the crowd were also two alumnae who are currently doctoral students at Oxford, Inga Steinberg and Aastha Prasad. Aastha, who majored in IJ, is currently in her second-year and about to go on fieldwork in her home country of India. She will be conducting an ethnography in the Kutch District of Western India to study ‘lived experiences of legality in conflict resolution processes at the grassroots’. Her interest in law was ignited thousands of miles away from India, however. ‘LUC was my first introduction to the field of socio-legal studies and I am forever grateful for that!’

“Passionate People Who Are Looking To Turn That Passion Into Action”

Among the more recent graduates who attended the reunion was Twan van der Togt, a World Politics major, who studies – or as the British say, ‘reads for’ – a MPhil in European Politics and Society, an interesting and strange experience in the age of Brexit. Like Kai, Twan is a member of St Antony’s College as well as a member of its famous football team. How does his new college compare to LUC? ‘I think the most interesting similarity between the two places is the sheer amount of extremely passionate people who are looking for ways to turn that passion into action.’ Sometimes the similarities are perhaps a little too…well, similar. ‘In both places,’ Twan says, ‘this passion often results in long (doom) threads on Facebook groups (yes, we have our own version of confession bear!), but it also creates an environment, which, although overwhelming at times, can also push you to get the best out of yourself.’ (Speaking of which: a week later, he won a major football tournament together with another alumnus, Lukas Salecker!)
After this successful reunion in the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’, perhaps the next one will take place in ‘The Other Place’, Oxford’s nickname for another prestigious university town whose real name – like Voldemort’s – must not be uttered.
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