Dinner with André Hoffmann

Alumni return to Oxford to celebrate the Chairman of the Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust, André Hoffmann

Alumni pose for a picture with WHT Director, Alexandra Henderson and Chair of the WHT Board, Andre Hoffmann. (back row: Daniel Zoughbie (2011, USA, DPhil International Relations), André Hoffmann (Chair, WHT Board), Alexandra Henderson (Director and CEO, Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust) and front row: Atherton Mutombwera (2017, Zimbabwe, MBA), Simukai Chigudu (2017, Zimbabwe, DPhil International Development), Juan Beltran (2016, Colombia, DPhil Plant Sciences), Irina Fedorenko (2016, Russia, DPhil Geography and the Environment), Omar Makhlouf (2018, Egypt, MSc Computer Science) and Sidhya Senani (2018, India, MBA)

The Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust Scholarships and Leadership Programme has supported more than 270 Scholars from over 70 countries to complete a Graduate Degree at the University of Oxford. The Trust’s work at Oxford was cemented in 2017 through a series of generous philanthropic gifts from philanthropist, investor and entrepreneur, André Hoffmann, who currently serves as chair of the WHT Board.  André’s gift of £5 Million in 2015 and a further £9 million in 2017 was matched by £6 million from the University to endow WHT Scholarships at the University of Oxford.

Recently, André returned to Oxford where he was inducted into the Chancellor’s Hall of Benefactors in recognition of his incredible contributions. WHT Alumni from across the globe returned to Oxford to celebrate Andre and the spirit of the Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Scholarships and leadership Programme.

Location, Location. . .

A view of University Church from Radcliffe Square.

The University Church of St Mary is one of the oldest buildings in Oxford and the first building of the University. It has an eccentric baroque porch and a spire which is claimed by some church historians to be one of the ‘most beautiful in England’. Around 1320, a two-storey building was added to the north side of the church, the ground floor became the “convocation” house used by University parliament and the upper storey housed books bequeathed by Thomas Cobham, Bishop of Worcester, which formed the first university library.

Albeit majestic, the church was not to be outdone by WHT supporters and alumni who came from all corners to celebrate André and the success of the Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust. Some of the dinner guests included André’s wife and members of the WHT Board of Trustees, Alina Barnett. Peter Tufano, Dean of the Said Business School, and Andrew Dilnot, Warden of Nuffield College also joined the celebration.

A lesson on the laws of physics

WHT alumnus Juan Beltran (2016, Colombia, DPhil Plant Sciences) captured the spirit of the night in his address. As the laws of physics go, Energy cannot be created or destroyed only transformed or transferred from one source to another. According to Juan, Andre has “shared his light” with the Weidenfeld-Hoffmann network. Scholars throughout the years shared the resounding feeling that the opportunity to have dinner and an informal chat with mentors, alumni and supporters was a rare and a wonderful thing that only happens in Oxford. What was even more wonderful, were the stories that the scholars brought to the dinner table througout the evening.

Alumni and scholars share a moment with WHT Director and CEO, Alexandra Henderson

A Family Dinner

2018-2019 Scholars took the opportunity to share their reflections at the dinner and the mood in the room was lifted. Hearing their impressions of Oxford, the Trust and each other cemented the sense of community and family that the Trust has endeavored to promote. WHT scholar Aditta Kitthoun (2018, Laos, MSc Social Science of the Internet) who is the Trust’s first Scholar from Laos shared that he was also the first from that country, and certainly in the room,  to sign up to Facebook in 2004. Thanks to the efforts of WHT CEO and Director, Alexandra Henderson and her team, Pashtoon Atif (2018, Afghanistan, Master of Public Policy) may well be the first person in Afghanistan (maybe even the region) to get a UK Study visa in under 4 minutes. Aditta and Pashtoon’s experiences and stories are unique and humbling. Aditta, who is reading for an MSC in the Social Science of the Internet has worked as a speech writer for senior figures, launched major global companies and products in Laos like Google Street View and Maps, and is as smart as he is witty. Pashtoon was meant to join Oxford last year but was refused a visa, and told us of the trouble he had in getting the visa and how he suddenly got the visa when the Trust inquired directly from the British Embassy in India. Pashtoon has been GoodWeave’s Afghanistan Country Director and has worked with the United Nations and USAID in Kabul. He is a man full of wisdom, and has seen time of both war and peace in Afghanistan.

Alumni and current Scholars getting to know each other around the dinner table.

As the night went on, and guests filled up on roast chicken and apple crumble, Priyadarshini Tripathy (2018, India, MSc Global health Science and Epidemiology)  a doctor and public health activist from India, spoke about female health in India where 50,000 women die from gynaecological complications and millions suffer from other avoidable complications. Priya plans to remedy this through her work having learned about the Scholarship from a fellow public health activist and WHT Alumna, Manisha Nair (2013, India, DPhil Public Health).

A call to action

At the end of the night, the guest of honor left everyone in the room with a call to action. “The world is a mess”, Mr Hoffman said, and he envisions WHT Scholars as a key part of the solution. “But can we fix the world?”, he asked rhetorically. “Are global warming, hate speech, political turmoil, corruption and poverty things we can actually impact?” At WHT, the answer seems to be ‘Yes’.  Juan Beltran, is investigating the use of mobile technologies to empower local communities to fight the spread of the Zika virus in Brazil. Shiri Avni (2018, Israel, MSc Computer Science) is developing algorithms to diagnose patients with rare genetic disorders via their facial photos. Zamiyat Abubakar (2018, Nigeria, MSc Social Science of the Internet) works on social intervention projects for Boko Haram-affected communities with international NGOs in Nigeria. . . and the list of wonders being done in a dark world goes on and on. When one hears the stories of the people who attended this dinner, as Juan put it,  the light continues to be shared and we come increasingly closer to realising a just and more humane world.

Ayushi and Kapil exchange a ‘high 5’ marking the end of the night.

To learn more about our the WHT Network or how you can apply for the Scholarship, visit our website at www.whtrust.org where staff, scholars and Alumni are waiting to share their stories. #WHTWishYouWereHere

 

 

About the Scholar

Saadia Gardezi

Pakistan
Modern South Asian Studies (), 2019
St Edmund Hall, Oxford
Oxford-Weidenfeld and Hoffmann-Rausing/Abraham Scholar
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Official Launch: WHT Alumni Teach-In 

Daniel Zoughbie with current scholars at the WHT Alumni-Teach In.

In the first week of October 2018, the Trust officially launched the WHT Alumni Teach-In; a forum for Alumni and Scholars to engage in action-oriented discussion and inter-generational sharing on global issues. The teach-in was hosted at Exeter College ,one of the oldest Colleges at Oxford and formerly home to notable alumni including John Kufuor (former President of Ghana), Tariq Ali (journalist and political activist) J.R.R Tolkien (author of The Lord of the Rings).

A group of Scholars debrief with Daniel after the teach-in.

WHT Alumnus, Daniel Zoughbie (2011, USA, DPhil International Relations), who is also an Alumni at Exeter, led the first Teach-In. Daniel spoke about how to balance academic excellence, cultural immersion and planning for a future after Oxford. Current Scholars who span the fields of public health, engineering, trade and finance, human rights, law and activism weighed in on finding interdisciplinary solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. Many of the Scholars this year are transitioning between careers  or hoping to gain a competitive, interdisciplinary perspective within their current fields to ‘take back home and make a positive impact’. Daniel’s own experience left them with ‘new ideas about how to create my own job if I cant find a space that suits me at home’.

Daniel presents Micro-Clinic’s Social Network Model during a TED Talk on ‘Good Habits‘ in 2012. 

A Social Network Model to address disease epidemics 

Daniel, who is attached to the University of California Berkeley as well as founder of Microclinic International spoke most passionately about how he turned a personal tragedy into a not-for-profit development organization that seeks to revolutionize how deadly diseases are prevented and managed worldwide. speaking about his concept, Daniel said, “what goes deepest to your heart is that which will have the greatest impact on the world. Think about what you care about. In my case, Microclinic emerged from losing my grandmother who lived in the middle east and passed away from diabetes complications – a largely preventable disease. The complications associated with it are often preventable and people don’t have to lose their eyesight, their legs, they don’t have to die due to lack of awareness or education on prevention measures”.  Daniel and his team at Microclinic International, build on epidemiological evidence suggesting that healthy behaviors are transmittable across social networks.

Daniel with Microclinic International participants and heath staff

The Microclinic Social Network Model leverages human relationships to address both non-infectious and infectious disease epidemics such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS’. They believe that if negative behaviors like smoking, unsafe sex, and overeating can be contagious, so can positive, healthy behaviors’. Through a process they call, ‘contagious health, Microclinic International has reached over 10 million people globally. Daniel’s concept has shown that positive, healthy behaviours can be socially transmitted not only in the Middle East where his project was inspired but across communities as far away as rural America. At the end of the session, Daniel challenged current scholars to make use of the time at Oxford and the WHT Alumni Network to launch their own careers in international public service.

Next Steps: requesting a WHT Alumni Teach-In 

The Trust will be hosting more Teach-Ins with our Alumni Network and current scholars throughout the year. Scholars and Alumni are encouraged to request a teach-in by nominating themselves or another alumni to host the Forum.

Questions? Please e-mail the Programme Coordinator at laura.stewart@whtrust.org 

 

About the Scholar

whtrustAdmin


(), I am not a scholar
, Oxford
Scholar
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WHT Wish You Were Here: Applying for a Scholarship

Eszter Kabos

Eszter Kabos (Hungary, MPhil Economics, Oxford-Weidenfeld and Hoffmann-Sackler) returned to the Trust to talk about her experience applying for the Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust Scholarships and Leadership Programme at the University of Oxford. Eszter is currently completing an MPhil in Economics at Oxford.

Read more “WHT Wish You Were Here: Applying for a Scholarship”

About the Scholar

Megan McFarlane

United Kingdom
(), I am not a scholar
, Oxford
Scholar
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Alumni calling in from across the globe

Every year, WHT Scholars participate in the WHT Enterprise Challenge where Scholars, facilitated by mentors and former WHT alumni entrepreneurs, brainstorm ideas seeking to find congruence between big problems, novel solutions, and practical capacity.

At this year’s Moral Philosophy Seminar, incoming scholars had the opportunity to learn about the challenge, organise in groups to settle on preliminary entrepreneurial ideas and hear from WHT alumni from across the globe.

Alumni shared how their WHT Enterprise Challenge experience and the enterprises that have developed from them have shaped their experiences during their Leadership Programme .

See below for a message from the first WHT Scholars to go through the WHT Enterprise Challenge programme and their message to the incoming cohort.

About the Scholar

Megan McFarlane

United Kingdom
(), I am not a scholar
, Oxford
Scholar
More...

Invitation: WHT Alumnus in Oxford

Daniel Zoughbie met with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other world leaders for his book “Indecision Points.” (Courtesy of Daniel Zoughbie)

WHT Alumnus, Daniel Zoughbie (United States, DPhil International Relations, 2011), will be returning to Oxford this October.  Current Scholars and interested participants are invited to a lunch-time discussion with Daniel at Exeter College (Rector’s Drawing Room) from 12:45-2:00PM on Thursday 11th October 2018.

Read more “Invitation: WHT Alumnus in Oxford”

About the Scholar

Megan McFarlane

United Kingdom
(), I am not a scholar
, Oxford
Scholar
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Juan Beltran – An Oxford DPhil Graduate

Juan Beltran at his Degree Ceremony in Oxford.

This weekend, the WHT celebrated the achievements of our graduating Scholars and pioneering Alumni including Juan Beltran,  DPhil Plant Sciences, who attended his Degree Ceremony at the University of Oxford. According to Juan it was an ‘unforgettable’ moment thanks to WHT, his Department and Magdalene College. Visit the WHT Alumni Network to read his bio and connect with him on LinkedIn.

About the Scholar

Megan McFarlane

United Kingdom
(), I am not a scholar
, Oxford
Scholar
More...