By Monday morning, I was starting to feel the full effects of my injury the previous week. I had been stocked up on pain-killers to get through Rohan and Rosie’s visit over the weekend, but now I needed time and rest. Through much of the week, I stayed at home getting some much needed sleep and rest, other than a small interlude on Thursday morning to book tickets to the BBC Proms later in the summer. It unfortunately meant missing out or cancelling a number of activities I had planned to undertake throughout the week.
The first main event of the week was on Friday. Following on from the Day of Research the previous week, it was now time for another Gates marquee event. This was the inaugural LfP Skillathon. Learning for Purpose is a branch of the Gates Council which puts on workshops to develop new skills beyond those learnt in a research programme. The focus of the Skillathon was to participate in multiple workshops over the course of the day. So, in the morning, I went along to St John’s College to participate. The day was divided up into three sessions, the first two had two workshops running in parallel. I opted to go to the workshop on identifying and coping with Impostor Syndrome, an effect felt my many PhD students at Cambridge, and in Gates more broadly. The workshop facilitator was, herself, undertaking a PhD, looking at understanding and synthesising the Impostor effect. Simplified, the Impostor Syndrome is felt by people who feel as though they are undeserving of the successes they have achieved, or the positions they have been awarded. She spoke of how to identify the Impostor Syndrome in oneself and others, and how to cope and overcome it.
After lunch, it was time for the second and, for me, the most anticipated session. The session was about collaborative leadership, but the main draw card was the medium: Lego. When we walked into the workshop room, a massive pile of Lego bricks had been poured out onto the tables. The facilitator actively encouraged us to fiddle and start building structures out of Lego. The workshop started with basic instructions like: “build a tower out of the pieces in front of you.” This got everyone into the rhythm of picking up pieces and putting them together in creative ways. Once everybody was expressing their natural creativity, the questions evolved into things like “create a model that demonstrates good/bad leadership.” We were given a short time limit, and it was amazing how quickly models started to form that represented different phenomena. Some were abstract, others were directly literal. We would then share and discuss what we had made with the people on our tables. Overall, it showed how limitless people’s creativity can be, and really opened people up to conversations about the subject.
The final session was the keynote. This was given by Yassmin Abdel-Magied, a Sudanese-Australian mechanical engineer who was now living in London. She was here to speak on the topic of unconscious bias, a topic that she has had lots of personal experience in as a black, muslim, young, female mechanical engineer and activist. The tone of the session was uplifting, with a positive attitude that biases can be overcome, but acknowledging there is still a long way to go.
After the session, I headed out to the real tennis court to play again for the first time since my injury. I was participating in a mixed doubles tournament, with Allie. We had three matches to play over the course of Friday evening and Saturday morning, with our set results being added to three other pairs to form an overall team result. Together, we won our first match, but drew the following two.
Finally, on Sunday, after a quiet morning, I headed around to Krittika’s to see her new place and drop off the gowns I had borrowed the previous week. I stayed and chatted for a while, before heading out to Churchill College for yet another cricket game. I had missed the second cuppers match for Darwin, as I had been unfit to play, and we had been beaten badly. Today, we were playing fellow cellar-dwellers Churchill. They couldn’t form a full team of 11, and were only playing with 8. They won the toss and opted to field first. Already the problems started early for them, when one of their players split the webbing in his hand and had to go and seek medical attention. Our openers put on a massive stand, each going over 50 until the first wicket fell in the 18th over. By the end of the innings, we had put on 2/180. I didn’t get a bat; I was scheduled to bat at 5, so instead I scored the innings. In reply, we kept a steady stream of wickets to bowl them all out for 66, wickets shared evenly amongst the bowlers. Darwin would not go on to the knock-out rounds of the Cuppers tournament, but we would still have more cricket to come in the upcoming MCR (postgraduate) league.