The British Ambassador to Chile, Fiona Clouder, hosted a reception for the launch of the Oxford University Alumni Society. The event held at the British residence in Santiago was attended by current and former Oxford students, professors as well as other professionals interested in supporting the Society.
The British Ambassador opened the event by conveying her support for the Oxford Alumni Society as a representation of the strong relations between the UK and Chile. She noted how these relations span across a wide range of topic areas that hold great potential for contributing to Chile’s future minds and leaders.
After the Ambassador’s words of welcome, Leigh Payne, Professor and Director of the Latin American Centre at University of Oxford, gave a thought provoking talk on ‘Overcoming Impunity: Pathways to Accountability in Latin America’. In her presentation she explained her current research on comparing Amnesties in Latin America to those in other parts of the world. She discussed the issues of ‘Disappearances’, ‘Group targeting’ and the large percentage of guilty verdicts and Amnesty overrules coming from Latin America.
Isabel Palma, chairman of the Oxford Alumni Society, highlighted the society’s value, not only for those within the Oxford community for maintaining contact, but also for “acting as a bridge for diffusing ideas and opportunities to a wider audience.” She emphasised that “this is not a closed group, the event was open tonight to all those interested.” Isabel also noted how promising it was for Chilean and British students to take such an international interest and unifying through the medium of education.
Ambassador Clouder gave the following speech at the event:
Good evening. Welcome to all of you to the Residence this evening. Thanks to all of you for coming. It’s great to see so many alumni from the University of Oxford here tonight.
To start with, I have got a question for you all: what do JRR Tolkein and CS Lewis, Hugh Grant and 28 British Prime Ministers have in common? The answer, of course, is that they all either studied or worked at Oxford. The University has a great tradition of teaching, and continues developing future professionals and leaders. It also has a great tradition of research as the oldest university in the English speaking world.
So it is with great pleasure that I am hosting this reception for your recently formed alumni group. It is great to see that so many of you want the spirit of Oxford to be alive in Chile. I congratulate your initiative in setting up the alumni group. Hopefully you will be able to support and help each other, and keep in touch with the University that played an important part in your education. At the Embassy, we are keen for ex-students to keep up their links with the UK, and an alumni group is a great way to do that. But you can also all act as ambassadors for the UK more widely – and so please do share your experiences of studying there with future generations who might want to follow in your footsteps.
We believe that the UK has a lot to offer Chile in education. We are already the number one destination for Becas Chile scholars. We have 17 of the world’s top 100 universities, including Oxford. With only 1% of the world’s population, we account for 16% of the most-cited scientific papers. We are thrilled that so many Chilean students want to study in the UK, and the doors are always open for further students. We are looking for deeper partnership with Chile in science and innovation too, including through the new Newton Fund, which will enable further scientific and innovation exchange.
So to conclude, thank you very much for attending tonight, best of luck for your alumni society and please all act as ambassadors for the UK!
For more information about this event, contact Karl Zammit-Maempel, Head of Economic Affairs and Climate Change, British Embassy, Santiago.
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