Ivy Kuo is a UC Santa Barbara student spending the year at Queen Mary, University of London. In February, she attended our afternoon tea with the UC President, Janet Napolitano. The following is Ivy’s account of the event:
On Monday February 22, UCEAP students and staff gathered for afternoon tea in the historic Bloomsbury House nestled in Central London. We were immediately impressed with the elegant Victorian interior, and we waited excitedly for the arrival of the President of the University of California, Janet Napolitano.
Over glasses of sparkling water, students studying across England, Ireland and Scotland socialized in button-ups and dresses–some were seen jokingly lifting their pinkies as they sipped on their “posh water.” Many of us were excited to reunite with our UCEAP friends again, and we were thrilled to experience a proper English tea inside the Victorian room.
An expectant hush filled the room once President Napolitano entered. Unexpectedly, she walked up to every student and staff member to introduce herself with a firm handshake and smile. I was pleasantly surprised by this thoughtful gesture, for in that moment, President Napolitano greeted us as another equal, and not as a figure of superior authority.
UCEAP then delivered an informative presentation discussing the success of our current Study Abroad program, followed by anecdotal speeches given by UC Berkeley student Victoria Scigliano and UCLA student Harry Kidd. President Napolitano then delivered a speech to us, and due to the setting, it felt more personal. It allowed us to understand her perspective and feel as if she had tailored her speech to this small group of students. She addressed student concern over tuition hikes, and spoke about the efforts her and her staff has made in fighting for our rights to affordable college tuition.
The President concluded with a Q&A session addressing matters such as women in politics, working with the Californian government, and personal anecdotes from when she studied in London as a college student.
After the speeches, everyone eagerly dove into the traditional British afternoon tea of sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, and of course, tea. Accompanying our meal was a decadent array of macarons and cakes, which tasted just as heavenly as they looked.
The elegant event diligently organized by the UCEAP London office was a success, as the UC students were able to socialize with UCEAP staff and even President Napolitano. We were honoured to meet the President and to be informed on the current state of UC affairs. And of course, who could forget the scrumptious raspberry macarons!