4th of July in England

4 July 2012

Happy 4th of July!

We would soon be heading out to the Boathouse where our Oxford RAs are preparing for us a dinner to remember. Who would have thought that 236 years after our little revolution, the Brits would be hosting us in a little barbecue to celebrate our Independence Day? Just a little twist of irony.

But not the strangest thing that’s every happened here. I think that award goes to last year’s Oxford program students Trey Ramsey and Alycia Graves teaching the Chinese students how to do the electric slide, after they’d helped us celebrate the 4th of July — a holiday they’d never heard of before.

I love these multicultural interactions. ūüôā

Will have photos later!


View From My Window

26 June 2012

Western Road Rowhouses, Oxford, England

Sunshine in Oxford

25 June 2012

We had a sunshiny and — get this — warm day here in Oxford for the first day of class and the Welcome Tea. In fact (and this is a first-ever phenomenon for me) I got a little sunburn from sitting in the Hertford College quad for the better part of an hour. Sunburnt. In Oxford.

Yesterday’s lunch was chicken in a white wine sauce with a sort of rice pilaf, snowpeas and carrots. Chocolate cake for dessert.

Chicken in Wine Sauce

Walking back from class today, I made the mistake of taking a shortcut through the Covered Market. I came out on the other side with two flower containers and 3 bouquets of flowers from the discount bin!

Blue Flowers

Lilies in my dorm room


An English Breakfast: The Stuff of Dreams

24 June 2012

Ahhhhh! A traditional English breakfast. The smell wafted up to me on the top floor of Abingdon House as I woke up this morning, my stomach rumbling in anticipation. The fare did not disappoint.

An English Breakfast

Eggs, “bacon,” mushroom, tomato, hash browns, sausage plus toast, croissants, fresh fruit and berries and several options of cereal, juices, milk and coffee. It’s the breakfast of kings. What a great way to start a Sunday morning!

Today’s Highlight: The Grand Cafe

22 June 2012

Already Day Three and it’s going much too quickly. Another thing that’s going quickly is my spending money!! Why is it so much easier to spend British pounds than American dollars? I guess partly because it doesn’t feel like real money.

Tea with my colleague Diane — and yes, that is a winter sweater in June.

Lots of administrative details to deal with today but the¬†highlight of the day was probably tea for three at the Grand Cafe, the oldest coffeehouse in England (established in 1650). Had “cream tea” with my colleague Diane and her son: cream tea consists of delicious¬†scones (nothing like the hockey pucks you get in the States!) with clotted cream, jam and — of course — tea. We had a great time discussing the cultural differences between the British and Americans.

Diane & son Josh at Grand Cafe

Another highlight was getting a pass to the Botanic Garden — my favorite spot in Oxford.

Botanic Gardens, Oxford

Our students arrive tomorrow!

Oxford Times Six

21 June 2012

Christ Church Cathedral

Oxford.There’s just something about this place that makes me walk around with a smile on my face.

One thing I love about it is that it changes at such a slow pace that everything is still familiar from one year to the next. Sure, students may sometimes have complaints about limited access or no wifi — I understand; I go crazy if I don’t check email daily, too — but this is Oxford!

I am hoping and praying that this year’s group will be predisposed to fall in love with Oxford; that they will be flexible and adaptable; that they will have a sense of humo(u)r and enjoy everything that comes¬†their way¬†here, knowing what a privilege it is to be here and how neat it is to be in England.

This is my sixth year to help coordinate the program and I feel like one of the luckiest (most blessed, in “Christianeze”) gals in the world.

Smartest thing I did this year: PACKED LIGHT!! Everything fit into a rollarboard carryon bag!

Dumbest thing I did this year: Didn’t bring a book to read. My reasoning was that I could buy something here but it’s the end of Day Two and still no book! There’s always tomorrow but it stinks to be without a good book.

Today, my colleague Diane and her son Josh arrived. They were tired from their trip but they were such troopers as I dragged them around town saying, “I promise … although this feels like torture right now, you’ll thank me later when you have the best sleep of your life tonight!” The biggest mistake people can make is to sleep during the day on their first night overseas. The quickest way to get over jetlag is to adapt immediately to the local schedule of eating and sleeping.

We had a pleasant lunch “in Hall” with Fatjon and some other members of the Hertford College staff. They are such lovely people! Each one so smart and sweet-spirited. After lunch, we meet with the International Programmes director and with Fatjon so that they could get to know Diane a little better.

Afterwards we took the “mandatory” Oxford sightseeing bus tour. I think this was my 4th time to go?? It beats a walking tour when you are fighting hard to stay awake but need to get familiar with the layout of the city. Then dinner, then grocery shopping, then “home.”

Goodnight! Will report again tomorrow. The fun shifts into high gear when students arrive on Saturday!

P.S. Blame any typos on the jetlag …

Oxford Prayer Room

17 March 2012

This video just fills me with joy. Can’t wait to be a part of this wonderful ministry this summer! I’m hoping and praying that our students going to Oxford this year will spend much of their free time praying for the city and its people.


Pictures from the Gala

16 July 2011

Trey & Gabi


Jeandelize & Alycia







Gabi & Me


Prof. Kohm & her husband


Partial group photo -- missing several people


In Dining Hall


Gina & Me


Gift from students


What did they put in that coffee?!

Justin's after-dinner thank you speech

All’s well that ends well! Thanks for the memories, guys!


Reflections from Oxford — Last Days

16 July 2011

The closing gala dinner never fails to move me. I’ll be smiling away as I eat my food,¬†thinking to myself how glad I am that everyone survived, that I didn’t have to call any parents¬†with the news¬†their child had been arrested, that no one got run over for failing to “Look Left” when they should have looked right … and then I’ll look down the long wooden table at their happy faces, eyes sparkling in the candlelight, everyone alive with conversation, and it always brings tears to my eyes.

No matter how you slice it, Oxford is a life-altering experience. Each year that I come, I am changed. At the very minimum, it serves as a type of “reset” button in my life that reminds me that the way I look at the world 11 months out of the year is not necessarily the “right” way of viewing it or the only way of viewing it.

When I first arrive in England, I’m always astonished at the cultural diversity. It’s a bit intimidating initially, perhaps¬†because¬†of fear of the unknown, fear of causing offense to people with¬†whose culture I¬†may be unfamiliar. But walking down Cornmarket Street yesterday, weaving through a dense¬†crowd¬†of people from “every¬†tongue, tribe and nation” it¬†felt simply astonishing¬†to be a part of this amazing and¬†diverse tapestry — a little white Frenglish-speaking dot in a sea of colorful people.¬†

So why should I be surprised that such a life-altering experience brings out the best and sometimes the worst in each of us? It’s difficult to be faced with experiences that challenge us to the core of our being, to have a mirror raised in front of our faces and to see ourselves as others see us, to see our blemishes as well as our “beauty marks.” Even things like the fact that the hot and cold water come out of two separate faucets can be a seemingly insurmountable challenge to someone in the habit of having only one. But that’s when creativity can kick in! That’s when you realize that just because you’ve been doing something one way all your life doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it.

I feel extremely blessed to be here and I’m so thankful to everyone who made this trip possible (now I feel like I’m giving an acceptance speech!). I’m thankful for each one of the students who decided that this was the year they were going to Oxford, and I’m thankful for each of their individual personalities that helped make the group dynamic and interesting. Thankful, too, to the RAs — Dan and Gabi — who worked so hard and so diligently to make sure that everything went smoothly and that there was no shortage of fun or educational activities for our spare time.

And now the time has come to say goodbye to Regent in Oxford. We woke up to a cold, steady rain this morning and the mood was rather gloomy as we said goodbye, put people in taxis, then Gabi, Dan and I went around to each room picking up ethernet cords, keys, and taking down name tags from the doors. I went back to my room, feeling rather melancholy, and took a 2-hour nap (none of us have been getting much sleep!). When I woke up, the rain had passed and the sun was shining brightly again. Though it’s sad to have to say goodbye, we all have lives “back home” to lead. But now we have these rich memories to go back to in our day-dreams.