OUSL Activities in 2014

Thursday 9th October: Varsity Skittles Match

OUSL beat the Cambridge team in the first Varsity Quilles Match held on Thursday, 9th October at the Centre National du Jeu de Quilles in Pétange. “Quilles” is the local counterpart of British skittles or American bowling, played on a high-tech facility like an American bowling alley but with a subtle track that widens and curves slightly.
After a traditional Luxembourgish supper your gallant team of three (Harriet, Hervé and Andrew) took on a much larger Cambridge contingent. Despite the rotation of players on the Cambridge side and their use of hardened native Luxembourgers who could bowl straight after a few beers, your team thrashed them with a 115 to 86 points win.
This was a fun event and we look forward to repeating it next year with the same result.
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Friday 26th - Sunday 28th September: Visit to CERN and weekend in Geneva

OUSL made a memorable visit to CERN and to the city of Geneva, thanks to a chance encounter at the last OU European Alumni weekend in Madrid, where Oxford &ers; Cambridge Geneva President, Gregory Timofiejew, who works at CERN, met OUSL Treasurer, Jan Könighaus.
The chance to go underground to see the experiments at the Large Hadron Collider was not to be missed! Demand for places from OUSL members was strong. OUSL therefore made a double booking which enabled us to also invite OUS members from other branches. In the event 24 visitors saw the ATLAS and CMS experiments, including Oxford and Cambridge alumni from Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Italy and Sweden.
The size and complexity of the particle detectors is simply breathtaking in contrast to the slim tubes that carry the particles round the 27 km LHC ring. We were lucky to see the ATLAS and CMS detectors where the long- sought Higgs boson particle was discovered in 2012. This was one of the very last chances to visit underground facilities at CERN, during maintenance before the restart of the LHC at double the previous energy in 2015. The higher energies will allow further studies on the Higgs boson and open a window for new discoveries, potentially addressing unsolved mysteries of the universe such as dark matter.
After the CERN visit the visitors shared a black tie dinner with O&C Geneva at La Perle Du Lac, a delightful lakeside restaurant with a view of Mont Blanc away to the South.
On the Saturday and Sunday, Jan Könighaus led a series of visits to museums, such as the Museum of the Reformation, and other curiosities including the Buvette des Femmes Abstinentes. Dinner on Saturday evening at the top of the Mont Salève overlooking Lake Geneva was quite literally a highlight. OUS members picked and mixed these attractions and all agreed that it had been an outstanding weekend.
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Monday 16th June: Annual Dinner 2014 at the Cercle Munster, Luxembourg

Thirty-one members and their partners, together with seven guests, gathered for the Society’s Annual Dinner at the Cercle Munster. Following a splendid meal and toasts to the Grand-Duke, H. M. The Queen and the University, we were eager to hear our invited speaker, Mme Anne Brasseur, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Anne Brasseur is an experienced Luxembourg politician who is deeply committed to the mission of the Council of Europe. Her subject was “The Council of Europe - democracy, human rights and the rule of law: more important than ever”.
After a quick tutorial explaining how the Council has a much broader reach than the EU, with 47 member states compared to 28, Mme Brasseur cut to the real subject of concern: the Ukrainian crisis. She explained how she has been visiting and talking with all the various actors and how she has struggled to maintain dialogue with the Russians, despite their de facto withdrawal from the Council following the suspension of their voting rights. It was evident that the conception of power on the Russian side, indeed of her own powers as President of the Assembly, is painfully different from that of the more democratic states. Nevertheless, she has not abandoned her mission and still believes in the value of maintaining a civilized dialogue.

In response to a question about the efficiency of the European Court of Human Rights she explained that a greater part of the unacceptably long queue of cases came from countries whose own justice systems were slow. When questioned about the demands from some quarters in the UK to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the ECHR, Mme Brasseur emphasised the great contribution of Britain to the founding of the court and expressed the view that many criticisms of its judgements were distortions for political purposes. On the question of the treatment of the Russian minorities in the Baltic states she acknowledged that the situation was of concern. We all wish Mme Brasseur success in her difficult but vital role in the preservation of European values.
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Wednesday 7th - Friday 9th May: Oxford Mobile Robotics comes to Luxembourg

OUSL was able to arrange a visit to Luxembourg by Professor Ingmar Posner, Fellow of Pembroke College, Tutor in Engineering and co-head of the Oxford Mobile Robotics Group. This group is developing elegant solutions to the problems of getting cars and other robots to learn about their surroundings and then to collaborate with their human users. These are radically different and more flexible than the all-or-nothing approach of the Google car.

During his visit Prof Posner gave a public lecture at the University of Luxembourg in the series “Les jeudis des sciences”. This was well-received and provoked some searching questions about the responsibilities and liabilities in human/robot collaboration.

Prof Posner also participated in a meeting with members of the Automatic Control Research Group in the Center for Security, Reliability and Trust of the University of Luxembourg, headed by Prof. Holger Voos, following a small reception with scientists from Luxembourg University hosted by H.M Ambassador, Hon. Alice Walpole.

Two Luxembourg schools also profited from Prof Posner’s presence. At the European School, Kirchberg and at the Lycée Ermesinde, Mersch, he fascinated pupils with vivid illustrations and explanations of what could be done with Oxford’s robots and followed up by talking to smaller groups about how to win a place to study at Oxford.

OUSL is most grateful to Prof Posner for devoting his time and energy to this visit to Luxembourg.
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Thursday 1st May: Oxford OUSL Dinner, Christ Church College

OUSL and the Oxford University Belgo-Luxembourgish Society had a joint dinner in Oxford (Christ Church) on 1 May 2014. This annual dinner has become a welcome opportunity for alumni and current students from Luxembourg and Belgium to gather in an informal fashion in Oxford. This year’s key speech was delivered by H.E. Mr Guy Trouveroy, ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to the Court of St James's. He particularly stressed the importance of having more Belgian and Luxembourgish students’ studying at Oxford. Luxembourg alumnus Jean-Claude Müller further entertained the party by reflecting upon Luxembourg’s independence and the 175th anniversary of Luxembourgish statehood. Set within the mighty walls of the House, the meeting was the occasion to exchange views on current academic (and other) activities in Oxford as well as prospects of Luxembourg students after their graduation.

You can see photos of the event in our Gallery
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Wednesday 23rd April: Oxbridge Information Event for school students

The Oxford and Cambridge Societies of Luxembourg held their third annual information evening for applicants to the Universities at the Ecole de Commerce et Gestion in Belair. In the first half of the evening an audience of around 70 school students, parents and teachers heard H.M. Ambassador, the Hon. Alice Walpole, extol the quality and choice available at British universities. Dr Toby Cubitt, Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, then explained the unique features of undergraduate teaching at Oxbridge and what tutors were looking for in good candidates. Steve Brabbs of the Cambridge Society gave an overview of the application process, emphasising that good candidates had to make it a personal project to prepare themselves and win a place. This was followed by two testimonials to the benefits of an Oxford education from former students at Luxembourg lycées: Xin Yuang, a Computer Science undergraduate at Keble, and Anne-Marie Grunig, who recently graduated in Engineering from St Edmund’s Hall.

In the second half of the evening the audience were joined by no less than 30 Oxbridge alumni, who answered questions about studies, university life and careers on a one-to-one basis. This was a great success and the conversations seemed to flow on and on.

OUSL wishes to express its gratitude to all the speakers, as well as to the Ecole de Commerce et Gestion for providing facilities and refreshments for this event.

You can see photos of the event in our Gallery
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Sunday 6 April: Varsity Boat Race

There is no truth in the rumour that police were called to the George & Dragon to separate Oxford & Cambridge supporters of Sunday’s Varsity Boat Race. Indeed, after a dramatic race, this year's outcome was so clear that even Cambridge men and women could do nothing but concede defeat. Their concession was generously accepted by the Oxford people present. Harmony prevailed and drinking continued. Let’s keep up the tradition at next year’s Boat Race!
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Tuesday 1 April: Spring Social Dinner with the Cambridge Society

Our now traditional Spring Social Dinner was held together with our friends from the other place at the "Table du Belvédère" restaurant on Kirchberg. 38 of us shared a relaxed evening of good food, great conversation and lots of laughter. We were particularly pleased at being able to welcome new faces, which we hope to see again. We look forward to the next social dinner, which will likely take place in the autumn.
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Monday 10 March at 19.00: OUSL Annual General Meeting

There was a good turn-out for the 2014 AGM of our Society on 10th March. David and Marilyn Clark were our kind hosts and provided drinks and excellent snacks. Members had plenty of time to talk with each other and with the Committee both before and after the formal proceedings.
The business of the evening was dispatched efficiently and you can read the results: the Minutes, the Chairman’s Report, the Treasurer’s Report, the Accounts for 2013 and the Budget for 2014.
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Saturday 1 March: Speaker Evening in Düsseldorf: 'Arab turbulence: What comes after spring?'

Our neighboring Oxford Society Branch in Düsseldorf kindly invited Luxembourg members to attend a Dinner to be addressed by Stuart Laing, the Master of Corpus Christi, Cambridge. The Dinner took place at the Hotel Ashley’s . Stuart Laing worked in the U.K. Foreign Service during his earlier career, with postings in Africa and the Middle East. He is a Middle East expert and shared his views on “Arab turbulence: What comes after spring?”.
Our committee member David Clark attended this event and you can read his summary of Stuart Laing’s talk.
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30 January 2014: Talk by Sir Nigel Sheinwald

Sir Nigel Sheinwald, former UK ambassador to the USA and European Union and Foreign Policy and Defence Adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair, addressed a meeting of OUSL on the topic of ‘Britain, Europe and the World: present dilemmas and future decisions&squo;. He gave a bold survey of what he described as a risky and volatile period in international affairs and for the UK in particular. Not only was the UK impacted by changing US priorities and in the international power balance, but it was also unsettled by potential independence for Scotland and a possible vote to leave the EU. Austerity, retrenchment after Iraq and Afghanistan, and unease about the UK’s identity were making political life less predictable whilst at the same time there was rising disenchantment with the establishment elites in the UK and other Western democracies.
Sir Nigel said that there was no single solution for these problems. But the UK’s political leaders needed to think carefully about its long-term interests — a close relationship with the US, committed membership of the EU, and active involvement in world affairs, including in the Asia/Pacific region. In response to many questions he offered some valuable insights, such as the increasing dominance of national finance ministries in EU relations and the unique talent of the USA for building and maintaining alliances in a way not achieved by other powers. There was a complex historical background to the rising tide of Euroscepticism in the UK, and it had been difficult for the pro-European case to be heard. But the business community was increasingly vocal in support of continued EU membership. Sir Nigel believed that if there were a real and serious debate about the possible impact of Britain leaving the EU, this could turn the majority in the UK to favor staying in.
The Society would like to express its thanks to Roderick Dunnett for inviting our speaker and to David and Marilyn Clark for generously hosting this event at their home.
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