President’s Report for the Year 2016-2017, for the AGM on 22nd April, 2017

I have the pleasure in delivering the President’s Report for The Oxford & Cambridge Society of Hong Kong for the year 2016-2017.

Purpose

For many years we have been one of the most active and thriving Oxford and Cambridge alumni organisations in the world, serving alumni residing in Hong Kong. Over the past twelve months, we have been able to maintain and reinforce this success. I am proud that today we represent a diverse community of graduates as well as students from different academic backgrounds and fields of specialisation.

Our purposes as a society remain unchanged: to build links between Hong Kong and the UK with a focus on Oxford and Cambridge; to promote interaction and exchanges among alumni; and to undertake charitable endeavours for the benefit of society through offering project-based scholarships to Oxford and Cambridge’s Hong Kong students of limited means, whilst supporting various charities through fundraising.

Membership

We have worked emphatically on membership drive this year. The membership currently stands at 738 members. Of this total, 57% attended Oxford and 43% Cambridge. Some attended both. We continue to encourage more graduates to join as members partly through close cooperation with official university bodies such as the Oxford University China Office, and partly through widening the range of academic, social, cultural and sporting events we organise.

Committee and Administration

I would like to thank all members of the Society’s Committee for their support and assistance over the past year. Without such an outstanding and hard-working committee, it would not have been possible to hold so many events within twelve months. I must extend particular thanks to: our two patrons, Sir David Akers-Jones and Sir David KP Li; Immediate Past President Felix Lai; Vice-President Arthur Shek who continuously takes care of our undergraduate mentorship programme; Kenneth She as Honorary Treasurer; Lizzie Fraser as Chairperson of the 2017 Ball Committee; and of course David Fu, our Honorary Secretary, whose tireless and inimitable efforts have been invaluable to the efficient running of the Society.

Allow me to convey my thanks to all the rest of the committee and mention them by name: Victor Apps, Kenneth Fok, Andrew Haskins, Arthur Law, Roger Lin, James Liu, Edward Ma, Julian Marland, Rupert McCowan, Michael Ng, Arun Nigam, Christopher See, Gail Southward, Yong Kai Wong, Herman Yong, Jonathan Young, and Jessie Zhang.

Lastly, I must also express my sincerest thanks to our administrator Irene Lee for her constant and diligent maintenance of our website, membership list, communication works and, last but not least, her support of various events.

Events

During this year, my fellow Committee members and I have furthered the Society’s overall mission and tradition as an interactive community by presenting a series of events and activities for members’ enjoyment. I am proud and pleased that we have organised 29 events over the course of the year, and supported another eleven. Some of the highlights are as follows:

The year began in April 2016 with our traditional Boat Race Dinner, which was attended by some 130 guests. We were delighted to have Ms Teresa Ko (Jesus College, Cambridge) proposing the toast to Oxford University, and Mr Peter Burnett (St. Peter’s College, Oxford) proposing the toast to Cambridge University.

We had a well-attended Croquet and Pimm’s Garden Party in May 2016, at which we were honoured by the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, together with HM Consul General Caroline Wilson. Ms Wilson, who was educated at Cambridge, proposed a toast to Her Majesty the Queen, on the occasion of the Queen’s Official 90th Birthday.

As a community, we alumni are also passionate about serving society, and we have continued to deepen this commitment. Our classic Christmas Cocktail Party was held on 6th December 2016, through which we raised a considerable sum for Riding For The Disabled Association Limited. In partnership with other non-profit organisations including Oxfam Hong Kong, Outward Bound Hong Kong, Royal Geographical Society and the Rotary Club of Hong Kong, we have held or supported speaker dinners as well as performing arts events.

An important direction of this year was to foster closer relationship with other university alumni groups - not just those of UK universities, but those from other countries, namely Harvard University, Stanford University, Tokyo University, UC Berkeley, Columbia University, Imperial College, King’s College London, London School of Economics and Political Science, and Yale University. From horse racing event to gastropub-style dinner, we aimed at building long-term friendship and multilateral interflow. The final event of the year was a unique ‘globalised’ Happy Hour drinks mixer involving a cosmopolitan mix of alumni from our Society as well as University of Southern California and The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

We also focus on co-organising or supporting events brought by university bodies and student bodies such as Oxford/Cambridge’s alumni relations offices, Cambridge University Chinese Society, Oxford University Hong Kong Society, and Gates Cambridge Scholars. One of the main events of the year was the Alumni Reception in Hong Kong in September 2016 with Professor Louise Richardson, who became the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford in January 2016.

Sports have long been an indispensable part of our calendar. Not only did we hold rowing regattas at Middle Island in June 2016 and April 2017 but we also organised a bowling night and a hiking trip to Lantau. During the Oxford Alumni Weekend in March 2017, a crew comprising nine Hong Kong Oxford/Cambridge alumni rowers travelled to Singapore to represent the Society in an intercity boat race on the Marina Channel against our Singaporean counterparts, as part of the Row For Hope event that aimed at raising awareness and funds for cancer care and survival. The race was flagged off by Professor Louise Richardson and was cheered on by fervent spectators from the shore.

Taking this opportunity, I wish to particularly mention, since the beginning of the year, the Committee has opened up new e-payment gateways to facilitate collection of payments for events by means of ATM/internet or Eventbrite, gradually replacing the use of cheques.

Scholarships

The Committee allocated about HK$152,434 for scholarship grant awards for this year to nine students studying in Oxford and Cambridge. The awards are summarised as follows:

(1)  CHENG, Dustin (Oxford): Two-week volunteering work in Nepal with IVHQ (International Volunteer HQ).
 

(2)  LAM, Ho Man (Herman) (Cambridge): To take pupils in a local school in Cambridge to a prestigious European debating competition, the Heart of Europe Debating Competition.
 

(3)  LO, Shirley (Cambridge): To undertake a 3-week trip to Copenhagen to study Danish architecture.
 

(4)  MCCORKINDALE, William Joseph (Cambridge): To undertake summer research work at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching, Germany.
 

(5)  STEWART, Mariah Beth (Oxford): A comparative analysis of British and Chinese foreign aid in agriculture on their environmental, social and economic impacts in Africa: case studies on Ethiopia and Sudan.
 

(6)  TANG, Wai Fung Jason (Cambridge): Travel to Cuba to study the impact of economic policies on Cubans’ lives.
 

(7)  WONG, Shan (Oxford): To study spider diversity across different land-use practices in Madeira Archipelago.
 

(8)  YEUNG, Faith Zi Rou (Cambridge): Introduction of a sustainable “three-year- plan” for the “Cambridge Hong Kong Operation International Children’sEducation” (CHOICE) and completion of pilot school project in Catdang, Vietnam.

(9) YU, Kin Hang Oliver (Oxford): To undertake a summer internship in the Bayer Business Consulting division within Bayer AG in their headquarters at Leverkusen, Germany.

The projects should deepen the recipients’ learning experience, enabling them to make a difference in the world and make significant contributions to the disadvantaged through their volunteer work.

Final Word

It has been an honour as well as a pleasure to serve as the President of the Society. It only remains for me to thank all the Society’s members for their friendship and continuous support. Please join me in wishing the incoming President and Vice- President every success in the year ahead.

Michael Chi On Wong President 2016-2017 22nd April 2017