2015/16 OMT Travel Grant Reports

Thanks to the support of our Old Members, Univ is able to offer undergraduates and postgraduates the chance to undertake travel and research for their studies that might not otherwise have been possible. Students are asked to write a journal of their travel and experiences. Approximately a sixth of Univ students receive an Old Members’ Trust Travel Grant worth between £100 and £1,750 each year.

 

Travel Reports

To read individual Travel Reports please scroll down or select from the list below.

Istanbul and Assos - Carl Hildebrand
Barcelona and Edinburgh - Joana Duyster Borreda
Harvard University - Jonathan Burley
Egypt - Chloé Agar
Central Zionist Archives – Jerusalem – Aaron Simons
Sri Lanka Obstetrics and Gynaecology Placement – Matt Shorthose
European Iron Club (EIC) MeetingYu Jin Chung
Seychelles - Obstetrics and Gynaecology Placement - Dora Amos
Conference Trip to Rio de Janeiro - Anna Sanktjohanser

 

 

Istanbul and Assos

Carl Hildebrand

I am very grateful for the support of the Old Members through the travel grant I received to attend a conference on Kant and moral psychology in Istanbul, Turkey, along with a conference on Aristotle’s ethics in Assos, Turkey.

As my doctoral thesis focuses on Kant’s theory of moral character, the conference on Kant and moral psychology was directly related to my research in Oxford. This conference was held at Boğaziçi  University, located in a pleasant, hilly area toward the north of the European side of Istanbul and offering a beautiful view of the Bosphorus. The conference was organized by two Kant scholars at the university, Ken Westphal and Lucas Thorpe, and it brought together a number of other scholars from Turkey, the UK, the United States, and Europe. The paper I presented was titled ‘Education as character formation in Kant’s Pedagogy and Anthropology’ and it figures prominently in a chapter of my thesis. The presentation went very well and I received some valuable feedback on it both during the Q&A session and conversation afterwards. It was wonderful to receive feedback and warm encouragement in my broader project from senior scholars I had not previously met. Other topics presented on included, among other things: moral worth and moral motivation, the concept of moral integrity, Kant’s relation to Aristotle, and Kant’s theory of maxims as an alternative to belief-desire psychology. During the course of the conference I made a number of friends and acquaintances with similar interests, with whom I have kept in contact since. 

The scholars and students at Boğaziçi have a tradition of heading to the coastal town of Assos in June-July, where they meet with other Turkish philosophers for an annual conference of varying degrees of formality. This year’s conference was quite formal in its organization and the theme was Aristotle’s ethics. A number of international and important scholars in Ancient philosophy were present to give papers. Topics covered included: goodness as cause, the place of affect in the Nicomachean Ethics, and Aristotle’s concept of practical truth, among other things. As I am very interested in Aristotle and have written lightly on his work in ethics, this was an additionally helpful conference to attend. I also had the pleasure of meeting Professor Chris Shields again, who chaired my transfer of status examination and has since moved to the University of Notre Dame in the United States. I had the further pleasure of speaking with Katja Vogt about Kant’s ethics and theory of character in particular; Katja is perhaps most known for her work in Ancient philosophy but has also written and reflected a great deal on Kant. Her feedback and encouragement was particularly valuable.

Those responsible for organizing the conference in Assos had also arranged an open air concert featuring a solo violinist from Germany. This was held throughout the sunset and early night in an ancient Greek amphitheatre, situated below the ruins of an equally ancient Athenian temple and overlooking the Aegean with the island of Lesbos in the background (I’ve included a photo of the temple). For after the conference, the local organizers also arranged a trip to the site of the ancient city of Troy, which I was invited to attend (I’ve included a photo of myself with the city in the background). I hadn’t imagined I would have the opportunity to see firsthand one of the main stages for Homer’s epic poetry. Both of these visits were an immense pleasure and made my trip to Turkey culturally, in addition to academically, enriching. Once again, I am very grateful to the Old Members for making this possible through the Old Members’ Trust.

 

 

Barcelona and Edinburgh

Joana Duyster Borreda

I completed a longer research trip to the archives of Barcelona during July and October 2016. The visit to the archives and the collection of material was indispensable for the progress of my DPhil project which deals with Catalan nationalism in the late 19th and early 20th century.

I am happy to report that the archival work in the summer of 2016 was fruitful and that I have been to five different historic archives – in Barcelona and in the surrounding area. The material I found will constitute an integral part of my thesis. Thanks to the extensive visit over the summer to several archives I will be able to focus on the structure and on a singular chapter of my thesis in the next months.

I also used a part of the grant to attend and present a paper at the ‘Plurality, Belonging, and the Nation State’ conference of the Ethnicity, Nationalism, and National Identity Network (ENNIN) at the University of Edinburgh in May 2016. My paper was generally very well received and I had a number of helpful questions and comments. Overall, I benefitted tremendously from presenting my project to a larger audience and from the discussion and other papers presented at the conference.

I am extremely grateful for the financial support I received from the College Old Members’ Trust Travel Grant which made my trip to the archives in Spain and the conference in Edinburgh this summer possible – thank you very much.

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Harvard University

Jonathan Burley, Dphil Earth Sciences

I used the OMT Trust Grant to part-fund a month-long research trip to Harvard University. My DPhil research focuses on the potential for feedback between cyclical ice ages and volcanism.  To test this idea, I write computer models of volcanic behaviour and low-complexity climate models. However, even low complexity climate models feature a great deal of complexity… and the million year glacial-interglacial climate models I want to write have very few experts.  Fortunately, in today’s international academic world my research had long been planned as a collaboration with one such expert in Harvard.

The OMT grant helped fund a month-long stay in Boston to work in Harvard Earth Sciences.   Over the course of the month I significantly advanced my climate model, transforming it into the final version that will be used in my published papers, and spent significant time with various Harvard researchers close to my field.

Of course, even research trips are not all work.  I have numerous friends in Boston - both former Rhodes Scholars and my American partner’s friends and family.  I was, quite insistently, taken to see a Red Sox game, fed oysters and Maine lobster, and given endless American IPAs (I maintain that anything over 10% alcohol is wine in disguise).

The Old Members’ Trust funding facilitated a trip that has advanced my research by several months, and provided insights that I may never have made in Oxford.   Potentially reflecting this, I have been awarded the “Guralp prize for Outstanding Progress in Graduate Research,” denoting the best PhD research in my department. I am grateful for the opportunity Univ provided me with this funding.

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Egypt

Chloé Agar, Year 2 BA Oriental Studies (Egyptology)  

The professor of Egyptology, the other second-year from Harris Manchester College, and I flew from Gatwick to Luxor. There we joined a Thomson Nile cruise, which enabled us to travel between Luxor and Aswan and visit many sites from almost all periods of Egyptian history. This was chosen as the most economical and secure way of visiting the country in the present political circumstances. Sailing on the Nile allowed us to get a sense of the Egyptian landscape, and we started our hieratic class on board. Entry to the main sites was included in the tour package, but we also had significant opportunities to visit sites apart from the rest of the group. Whenever we visited a site with a group, we slipped away on entry and went round the site in more detail with Professor Parkinson.

Below is a list of the main sites that we visited and the context for study that we received for each one.

Karnak Temple, Luxor

This is an extract from Tuthmosis III’s account of the Battle of Megiddo. This is particularly interesting to me because I like Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasty history more than that of any other period. We are going to read this FHS set text either at the end of this term or the beginning of Trinity. Seeing it at Karnak made it very clear why no good transcriptions have been made of it, as many parts are fragmentary and it is a huge text, covering the entire wall in the part of the temple in which it is found. It is also possible that not all of the text has survived, as a later wall seems to have been constructed over the end portion of it.

 

Luxor Temple, Luxor

Luxor temple is much smaller than Karnak. It has beautiful images on the walls near the entrance pylons which depict the Southern Opet Festival. This was when the statue of the god Amun travelled from Karnak to Luxor via the Nile and back again, via the avenue of sphinxes which links the two temples. This avenue has been excavated far more than when I was last in Egypt nine years ago, so it was interesting to see how much more of it was visible. Standing outside Luxor temple along this avenue gave me a real sense of the scale of the ancient city Thebes, and what the procession of the festival must have been like to witness.

 

El-Silsilah

This is the narrowest point of the Nile, which we passed through in daylight on the way to Kom Ombo. There are quarries on the east bank which were used to build the temples of Luxor and Karnak. As the Nile is so narrow at this point, we passed very close to the shrines on the west bank and were able to take clear photographs of their façades.

Kom Ombo Temple

This temple is fascinating because it is the only temple in Egypt so far excavated which is dedicated to two gods simultaneously. Karnak is dedicated to various gods, but the site is really many temples built in close proximity to each other over time. Kom Ombo is dedicated to Horus and Sobek, and dates from the later part of ancient Egyptian history, when the Ptolemies and Romans ruled the country. It is interesting to see the cultural appropriation of the temple layout and hieroglyphic formulae in context; and we were able to study the style of the Greco-Roman reliefs. I have a personal affection for the mummified crocodiles. It was a pleasure to see that they have been moved from a small shrine building in the temple complex to a purpose-made museum, and that more have been added.

Philae Temple

There is a collection of temples on this island. The most intact and impressive one is the Greco-Roman Period temple, which is dedicated to Isis. Even when the Byzantine emperors closed down all of the other temples, the cult of this one survived because the Nubian tribes still worshipped the powerful, maternal figure of the goddess. We examined the last known dated hieroglyphic inscription in the gateway of Hadrian, and the carvings made when the temple of Isis was converted into a Coptic church. This temple is one of the great success stories of archaeology, because when the High Dam was built in the 1960s, UNESCO surveyed and moved as many monuments as possible to save them from being submerged under Lake Nasser. Consequently, the island on which Philae stands is not the original one, but it is not possible to tell that everything is slightly closer in proximity than it would have been on the other island.

Aswan High Dam and Friendship Monument

This gave us a chance to learn about the modern periods of Egyptian history and the modern environment. The view of Lake Nasser is beautiful, but this is bitter sweet because there are many monuments which UNESCO was unable to save. However, the dam has secured the Egyptian economy. The Soviets funded the dam, so the Friendship Monument is dedicated to the relationship between Egypt and the Soviet Union. It is a simple but striking piece of sculpture based on the lotus flower. However, Egypt’s water supply is under threat and the country is currently in negotiation with Ethiopia to resolve this. As the final of the ten countries along the Nile, Egypt has the right to veto any projects proposed by the other countries. However, Ethiopia is continuing to build its dam. As the first country on the river, completion and use of this project would be disastrous for the other nine countries.

Nubian Museum, Aswan

Egyptian history is a brilliant example of colonialism. This is an anachronistic concept, but it is easy to understand why it is applicable because Egypt spent its entire history raiding and conquering parts of Nubia. This was not entirely one-sided, however, as the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty of Egypt happened at a weak time for the Egyptians themselves, and consisted of Nubian rulers. This museum is an excellent way to follow the entire history of the relationship between these two countries. The photographs from the inside are a little dark, but there are many beautiful stelae and statues in the garden, including recently installed megalithic structures from Nabta Playa.

Elephantine, Aswan

We visited the island town-site of Elephantine by ourselves. This site has been continually inhabited since the Old Kingdom at the beginning of Pharaonic Egypt. We have read in texts that the local ruler of Elephantine was a powerful political player in Egypt because traditionally this was the country’s southern-most point. I had never realised how big that this island actually is, and seeing it makes its role as a border-post and governing site of the south far easier to understand. The site is excavated by the German and Swiss teams and is very well presented to visitors; we saw the Old and New Kingdom Satet temple, the shrine to Heqaib, the temple of Khnum, the governor’s palaces, the Nilometer and the newly restored Old Kingdom town walls. The winding alley ways of the Middle Kingdom town were a contract with the more planned settlement of Deir el-Medina.

Qubbet el-Hawa, Aswan

This is the site of many high elite burials from the Old to New Kingdoms. It was used as a site for a monastery and a basilica by the Copts, and there is a sheikh’s tomb on the peak. We visited this site by ourselves, and Professor Parkinson gave us an excellent survey of all of Egyptian history and we became very familiar with the layout of tombs. The view from the peak is spectacular in all directions, and it is possible to see the High Dam on the horizon and the cataract beneath the British Dam. The photograph is an extract from the letter of king Pepy on the façade of the Old Kingdom tomb of Harkhuf. Next year we will learn Old Egyptian and read it as an FHS set text. We walked back through the desert valleys, which emphasised why the Nile is still so important for the support of life in Egypt.

Colossi of Memnon, Luxor West Bank

This was visited during the official half day spent on the West Bank at Luxor. There is not much left of this temple of Amenhotep III because he built it on the Nile floodplain. There has been a lot of excavation since I was last in Egypt, and it was heartening to think that more statues and walls of this temple are coming to light and being restored by the team led by Hourig Sorouzian. It appears that it was a huge temple, so it will be interesting to see how much more is found there. We examined the Greek graffiti recording the imperial visit by Hadrian.

Valley of the Kings, Luxor West Bank

There is no photograph because photography here is banned to preserve the tombs. The tombs are filled with incredible colour and the images and writing inside them are still crystal clear. Although all Egyptian rock-cut tombs are fundamentally of the same design, it is interesting to see how the use of the space shifted across the dynasties. We went into two Eighteenth Dynasty tombs (Tuthmosis III and Horemheb) and one from the Nineteenth (Merenptah), as tickets are valid for three tombs. I enjoyed looking at the differences between the tombs of this period. Tuthmosis III’s tomb was the most well hidden, being situated high up a cliff. The simple linear hieroglyphic writing and images in his tomb are interesting because they are so different from those in other tombs. Horemheb’s tomb was brilliant because it was unfinished. It was possible to see all of the phases of wall decoration as we walked around the tomb. There were labels on each wall saying ‘west’, ‘opposite the king’ etc. so that the workers filling the tomb with Horemheb’s possessions would know where everything was supposed to go. Merenptah and Horemheb’s tombs were much more colourful and detailed than Tuthmosis III’s.

Deir el-Bahri, Luxor West Bank

Hatshepsut’s funerary temple easily has the most beautiful façade of all of the ones which we visited. There was a lot to see here, and all levels of the temple are now open to visitors. The tour guide’s trip to the West Bank was excellent for me because it involved a lot of material from the period in which I am interested. This temple also contains the Punt Colonnade, documenting an expedition to this land south of Egypt. There are similar passages in The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor, which we read last year, and will read again this term in its original, cursive hieratic form as an FHS set text.

Deir el-Medina, Luxor West Bank

This was the village for the people who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, and its unique combination of archaeology, artefacts and texts makes it a major source for social and cultural life in the Ramessid Period. This was great for textual context because two of our Late Egyptian FHS set texts come from the same people. The Contendings of Horus and Seth was part of the library of Qenherkhepeshef, and this term we will read the will of his wife Naunakhte; both were discovered in the cemetery outside the village walls. We also saw the grand puits, where many ostraca were discovered, and then walked towards Deir el-Bahri, through the valley of colours, an ancient source of ochre, past some Middle Kingdom elite tombs.

Tombs of the Nobles, Luxor West Bank

We visited three tombs of officials separately from the tour group. There is no photograph because photography is also banned in these tombs. It was interesting to compare the layout of the royal tombs with the non-royal ones. The non-royal ones are more plain, but the workmanship inside them is no less impressive and they contain the scenes of ‘daily life’.

Medinet Habu Temple, Luxor West Bank

On the day of our flight home we visited Medinet Habu.

This is the most intact temple on the Theban West Bank, with impressive remains of pigment. Most of it was constructed by Ramses III on an earlier site. It is possible to see the layout of the small palace in which the king would have stayed when visiting this temple. The political situation in Egypt during his reign is demonstrated by the depth of the hieroglyphs carved into the temple walls. They are so deep that those wishing to erase the king’s name would struggle. This supports what we have learned about him in lectures because he was supposedly assassinated by his harem, and we may read texts concerning the subsequent trials.

Dra Abu el-Naga Excavations, Luxor West Bank

On our last day we also had the chance to see two excavation sites. We were invited to visit the two tombs being excavated by the Macquarie Theban Tombs Project. This was interesting because the first tomb’s decoration was almost all writing, except for one wall which bore an offering scene image. We were taken down by Professor Boyo Ockinga to see the burial chamber and the sarcophagus. Seeing a tomb mid-excavation was very special, and the amount of reconstruction which the Australian team had had to do put the complexity of excavation into perspective. We also visited the Spanish Djehuty Project, which is excavating tens of tombs in an area of the necropolis used by the Seventeenth Dynasty royal family. We were guided by its leader, Dr Jose Galan, and then taken into a tomb which had tomb texts and graffiti covering almost all of ancient Egyptian history, including Demotic and Coptic graffiti.

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Central Zionist Archives - Jerusalem

Aaron Simons, History and Politics

I can happily report that my trip to the Central Zionist Archives (CZA) in Jerusalem was a great success.

For my undergraduate thesis in history, I am investigating how British Zionism responded to Nazi persecution of Continental Jewry, with particular focus on the Holocaust, from the British White Paper in 1939 to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1949. The archives of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland are held in Jerusalem, necessitating my visit.

The visit was certainly a fruitful one. I pulled up the documents of every ZF Conference from 1939 to 1949, which included detailed minutes and copies of speeches by prominent figures such as Chaim Weizmann, Moshe Sharett, Selig Brodetsky, Israel Sieff and Simon Marks. Contrary to some of the historiography on this topic, I found a significant level of awareness of the Holocaust amongst Anglo-Zionism, and some highly emotional responses as well as some more pragmatic and political ones.

The material found will constitute a major part of my thesis, which I hope to be a real contribution to the historiography of British Zionism. There is only one major work on the period I am covering, which gives only a cursory glance to the interaction between Anglo-Zionist ideology and Nazi persecution. Thanks to my visit to the CZA, I now have the archival material to add to this surprisingly under-studied area of historical scholarship.

On a personal level, I found the visit highly rewarding too. As a joint schools student of History and Politics, I have had comparatively few opportunities to get to grips with primary sources. The visit to Jerusalem really allowed me to get to grips with archival material and hone my skills in this department. None of this would have been possible without visiting the CZA.

It was a real privilege to visit the archives and one that was only possible due to the generosity of the College travel grant. I am extremely grateful to the Trustees of the College for providing me with this opportunity and extend my sincerest thanks to them.

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Sri Lanka Obstetrics and Gynaecology Placement 

Matt Shorthose, fifth year Medicine

Firstly, I would like to say thank you very much to the trustees for awarding me the grant to travel to Sri Lanka. It is very generous, and very much appreciated. I used the money to cover the cost of the flights.

The trip was an obstetrics and gynaecology placement in Sri Lanka. This was a great opportunity to see O&G practised in another country, and will be of benefit when I practise as a doctor as I could see how differently women were treated despite the provision of, for the most part, similar medicines and techniques as in the UK. On most days I went into the delivery suite to see women giving birth. The suite was just one big room with 16 beds in rows, in stark contrast to the private rooms women can have in the UK. Women did not tend to be moved here until they had progressed quite far into labour, and so I gained a lot of experience seeing the process of normal vaginal birth. Unfortunately, there was little opportunity to take part in the delivery as there were several student midwives present. This was quite a different experience to seeing birth in the UK since, in Sri Lanka, there are no visitors allowed with the mothers, and their privacy and dignity is very much ignored in the open space of the delivery room. The use of pain killers is also different: throughout my time there, I did not see a single epidural given, and even gas and air was used sparingly despite there being a canister in the corner.

As well as time on the delivery ward, I spent a lot of time in the theatres, both elective and emergency. For the most part this was made up of caesarean sections, but we also saw operations such as the repair of a ruptured ectopic and a cervical cerclage. This was again quite different to the UK as there is a very fast turnover of patients, no separate anaesthesia room, and obviously there was not quite the sophistication of technology. One of the most difficult experiences I had during the three weeks was in theatre. A girl aged 17 was undergoing an emergency caesarean section as her baby was upside down and one of its legs was blocking her being able to deliver. She was only 31 weeks' gestation, and so a paediatrician was on hand to perform resuscitation on the newborn if required. Unfortunately, a troupe of Sri Lankan medical students had followed the paediatrician in, and the girl had about 15 people watching what was a very emotional experience for her. What was already an uncomfortable atmosphere became worse watching the anaesthetist interact with the girl: she was obviously terrified, and was wriggling about in pain and anxiety while he was trying to give her the spinal anaesthesia. His reaction to this was to shout at her, and although I could not understand what he was saying, he was clearly telling her off. Once this was over, the surgeon had to check to see whether the anaesthetic had properly numbed her by pricking her stomach with forceps - when it clearly had not worked, both he and the medical students laughed. So far, so bad. Things only got worse when the baby was delivered from her stomach: it wasn't breathing, and so had to be taken to the next room to be resuscitated. Not a word was said to the mother, not even when the baby had been successfully resuscitated and taken to the intensive care unit. As far as she knew, the baby had died. This was quite an eye opening experience, and a very clear example of how what can be seen as a medical success (both baby and mum healthy and alive) can be seen as therapeutic failure. The mother will always remember that day as a terrible experience. Other caesarean sections that we saw were much better handled, but still did not have the same care for the mother as seen in this country.

Aside from theatre and delivery, I tried to get some practical experience on the antenatal ward. This was a very big ward, again with little privacy. Although there was some teaching on ward rounds, it was often very hard to hear, especially due to the vast numbers of Sri Lankan medical students. Myself and the other students I was with had problems with the language barrier, and did not feel comfortable carrying out examinations without the consent of the women. In order to overcome this we wrote a note, which our host translated into Sinhalese, that we could show to the women, asking if we could carry out antenatal examinations. The note worked really well, and the women clearly appreciated being asked, which meant we were able to practice more than I expected.

Overall, this was a hugely valuable experience for me. Seeing any medicine practiced abroad is useful, but especially so in the context of O&G as so much of the specialty in the UK revolves around good communication skills and providing a caring atmosphere to help women through what is a personal and emotional time. It made me realise how lucky we are to have the NHS, and the importance of mother welfare during childbirth.

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European Iron Club (EIC) Meeting

Yu Jin Chung

First, I would like to thank the Old Members for awarding me a second travel grant. Their generous support has been of great help in financing my travel to Innsbruck, making possible my attendance at the 2016 European Iron Club (EIC) meeting.

The EIC conference was a fantastic intellectual experience for me. The conference covered topics in both the clinical and fundamental research areas. The program was divided into different subjects, each subject starting with an overview presentation by an invited speaker, followed by short presentations on specific research being conducted within that subject. Of particular interest was a talk on the regulation of hepcidin by H3K9 acetylation and H3K4 methylation, as this was relevant to my research project (epigenetic regulation in iron-deficiency). Having spoken to the presenter, I may have obtained the possibility of collaboration with his group, which is based in the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (WIMM) here at Oxford. I am currently trying to set up a formal meeting with him to discuss this further.

My poster presentation was more successful this time than it was during the BioIron 2015 conference. I received many compliments on my current work, and many people expressed interest in my future endeavours and are looking forward to seeing these results, perhaps during the next Iron meeting, the BioIron 2017, in May next year. I still do feel, however, that the results presented during this EIC 2016 conference were mostly proof-of-principle type of data, and my research could attract more interest once I can show results that have a greater implication on differential gene regulation by iron-deficiency. I am happy to report that I have now received my first set of next generation sequencing results back, and am in the process of sifting through the data. My hope is that, by the next conference in 2017, I will be able to present this and other sequencing results, as well as preliminary results on the effects of differential gene expression on cardiac pathophysiology.

The conference as a whole was extremely useful for me. The lectures and presentations were very educational; above all, I now have a better understanding of the progress and difficulties of iron therapies and interventions in the clinical setting. Furthermore, not only did I meet new people, but I was also able to reconnect with some of the people I had met last year and to discuss their research with them further. Finally, knowing the general interests of the members in the iron field, I have a greater appreciation for what is lacking from my project in order to make it more relevant and interesting. This is something on which I will be working between now and the next conference!

Once again, I thank the members of the OMT for their generous support that made this experience possible for me.

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Seychelles - Obstetrics and Gynaecology Placement

Dora Amos, fifth year Medicine

I travelled to Mahe, in the Seychelles for a two week Obstetrics and Gynaecology placement as part of my fifth year of medical school. This was a fantastic opportunity to understand what medicine is like in a developing country.

My two weeks were spent at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles (and the smallest capital city in the world - it took about 25 minutes to walk across the whole city!). Obstetrics and Gynaecology is a very diverse specialty so no two days were the same. Each morning I would attend the team meeting, when the patients that had arrived overnight were discussed in a mixture of English, French and Creole. Luckily my knowledge of French meant out I could figure out most of what was going on in Secyhellois Creole.  I would then spend the rest of the day going to the wards, the gynaecology and antenatal clinics, the theatres or the labour ward.

Ward rounds and clinics provided me with ample opportunity to practice clinical examinations, as there was a very high throughput of patients at each. Patients travelled from all over the Seychelles, often taking ferries between islands, to come to the only specialist centre in the country. I felt especially lucky to have so many opportunities to practice antenatal examinations; I can remember the excitement of the first time I felt a baby kick in its mothers' womb and, feeling the legs, back and head of the baby, figured out its position in the womb.

The highlight of my placement was undoubtedly my time on the labour ward, where I was welcomed by both the midwives and the patients on the unit, and was lucky enough to be involved in the delivery of several babies. It is a real privilege to share in such a momentous occasion in a woman's life and to witness their excitement and joy (and relief!). I was lucky that all of the babies that were born while I was there had simple births and were healthy and happy. As a medical student in the UK in a hospital obstetrics department one often only witnesses complicated, medicalised births, so it was good to be able to understand the physiological process of labour and delivery.

Sadly some of the greatest health inequalities in the world are in women's health and the contrast with the UK is very noticeable, despite the Seychelles having one of the best healthcare systems of any African nation (for the first 10 years of its 30 years of independence the Seychelles was a socialist one party state and its development was heavily funded by the USSR. It continues to have a very left-wing government with lots of foreign investment). For example, I met several women whose babies had died in the womb (stillbirth), and were coming in to hospital to deliver these babies. The rate of late stillbirth is high in the Seychelles, mainly due to the prevalence of diabetes and poor education and access to healthcare leading to poorly controlled blood sugar levels in pregnancy. It struck me that the doctors in the Seychelles had become quite blasé about these late stillbirths; the women were given the news bluntly, given a bit of a telling off for not taking their diabetes medication and sent off to the labour ward where they would deliver their dead babies alongside women delivering their healthy babies. The intense grief and pain of these women, who were mourning the loss of a child, was barely acknowledged. Their helplessness also struck me; there was little that could be done for them in the Seychelles, but similar women in the UK would have been intensively monitored during their pregnancy and would likely have had their babies delivered earlier, giving them a greater chance of survival. This was one of many experiences in the Seychelles that reminded me how lucky we are to be in the UK and to have the NHS.

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Conference Trip to Rio de Janeiro

Anna Sanktjohanser

I attended the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET) conference in Rio de Janeiro from 6-9 July 2016. This is the main, first-rate conference of the mainstream society of economic theorists. I was able to present my paper on endogenous monitoring in a partnership game in the session on Dynamic Games.

The presentation went very well, I had a number of questions on my paper, and several people approached me after the session to ask further questions and give me feedback – for instance, Andrew Clausen from Edinburgh University or Helios Herrera from Warwick University. This was extremely useful, and I am integrating some of the feedback into the paper before I send it off to a journal at the end of this summer.

I very much enjoyed the rest of the conference too. There were many interesting talks for instance by Lucas Maestri, Joyee Deb and Johannes Horner. I was also able to make connections with a number of young researchers building up my network of people interested in similar areas.

I am very grateful for the financial support I received from the Old Members’ Trust Graduate Conference and Academic Travel Grant without which this trip would not have been possible – thank you.

 

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