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[Oxford] Do fidem: My thought on 13 years ago yesterday

The other day I wrote about Francis Mburu, who was a great help to me in doing my PhD at Oxford University.

I got a bit sentimental when I read an old blog about the graduation ceremony precisely and coincidentally 13 years ago yesterday, thanking Mr Francis. Also, my elder son will be graduating from junior high school next week. Time is flying. I post the blog below.

I've just looked it up, and it looks like: Do fidem = I swear.


Do fidem, graduates.

I had finished my PhD three years ago, but I decided not to attend the graduation ceremony for various sentimental reasons. At Oxford University, the matriculation ceremony is a joint and simultaneous event, but the graduation ceremony is very personal, takes place every month, and you can attend at any time. Mr XXX, an advisor to US presidential candidate Mr Obama, graduated with me after 25 years of studying.

After procrastinating, I finally gave up and graduated on Saturday, June 7th.

So, to be honest, I didn't think the graduation ceremony was that important. In fact, on the day of the ceremony, I woke up early in the morning to tidy up the things I couldn't do last week.

Two of my friends from London were there as if they were my parents. I remember the last time my parents came to a graduation ceremony was at primary or secondary school, so I thought it would be like this.

I woke up early to get some work done, so I was sleepy, tired and not very excited, which was a pity for my friend.

Anyway, I arrived at my college at 11.00am as scheduled. I filled out some paperwork and went to the graduation ceremony without feeling too excited.

Arriving at the College

Scholar gowns, which only scholarship students are allowed to wear

Usually, the vice-chancellor held the graduation ceremony, but it was unusually held by the chancellor this time. According to the college officer, who was an old man when I first met him, "I've been attending ceremonies for about 100 years, but this is the first time that a chancellor is holding a ceremony". I'm fortunate. I'm getting a bit nervous. Incidentally, the current chancellor of Oxford University is the former president of Hong Kong, who presided over the return of Hong Kong to China in 1999.

After the explanation, we had a quick lunch at the High Table. The High Table is where the professors and masters of the College dine, just like in Harry Potter, where the professors treat on a higher level. When I was a student, I had the opportunity to eat at the High Table as a Scholar, but this would be my last time. I was lucky to be seated diagonally in front of the master. The roast lamb was delicious, but we didn't have time to taste it.

At the High Table

Then we all went to the Sheldonian Auditorium, and at 2:30 the double doors closed, and the ceremony began. The chancellor spoke about what it means to leave a university that you can be proud of.

"No matter what happens, we must never stop our research."
"There are many problems in the world that need to be solved."
"Oxford University has a significant role to play in that."

And so on. We heard animal lovers demonstrating outside the Sheldonian Auditorium during the graduation ceremony against animal testing, so I felt I were on to something. Research has constantly confronted ethics, preconceptions and persecution, such as Darwin's public debate on evolution at Oxford University's Natural History Museum. I felt that our generation, and the generations to come, should not stop this process.

Around this point, I started to think that I was really going to graduate.

After that, the ceremony went on in Latin, and I had no idea what they were saying. When it was my turn, I went forward and replied "Do fidem" (I agree) to something the chancellor said in Latin.

Once outside the Sheldonian, I changed from my Scholar's gown into my DPhil gown and re-entered. One by one, the DPhil shakes hands with the chancellor and has a word or two of conversation with him. According to my friends, I was there a lot longer than the others.

The conversation was not much, just about where I'm from and the job I'm doing. I told him that I was Japanese and that I was still in Oxford, working on the environment.

I don't expect him to remember me, but I'm sure I will for the time being.

And, then the ceremony was over, we had a photo session, went to the pub with friends, had dinner, and it was all over.

It's really all over. I am officially and unofficially no longer a student at Oxford University. Because of my innocence, I didn't want to think about the university or its history. Now I am genuinely proud to have studied at Oxford University.

Oxford University gave me a scholarship and living expenses for me, who has lived such a twisted and crooked life.

Thank you!
Professor Saito, for choosing me.
Francis Mburu, who encouraged me and told me I would get the scholarship.
My friends and family who have supported me in so many ways.

As I am shy, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you very much. I look forward to working with you in the future.

Finally, I think that DPhil is the process of learning "critical thinking." "Critical thinking" is finding something wrong and "disagreeing". However, we cannot do many things with just critical thinking in the real world; otherwise, our lives are just painful.

Then, at my graduation ceremony, I was forced to say "Do fidem" (I agree), which I didn't understand.

Critical thinking, sometimes "Do fidem" is the way to go. The last piece of the DPhil course has been filled.

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