This blog is now closed

February 17, 2011

Any future updates about my Eisenhower experience will be logged on the Eisenhower Europe website.



May 26, 2009

And here’s the picture of me and Omar from when we met, as promised.

Antonia and Omar when Omar visited Londone arlier this year

Antonia and Omar when Omar visited Londone arlier this year

A year on

May 26, 2009

Amazing to think it’s more than a year since our Eisenhower experience! Anyway, I celebrated the anniversary with another meeting, this time with the lovely Suaad who was in London with her daughter. Here’s the now-obligatory photo.

Looks like there will be more in October, as I’ve signed up for the EF conference.

Suaad and I at the National Gallery Cafe

Suaad and I at the National Gallery Cafe


The reunions continue

April 4, 2009

I met Chak Hee in London this week when she was over for the G20 summit. I knew coming to London would mean that I got to see people! I also had a quick chat with Gil over Skype this week, which was lovely. Have realised that the picture of me and Omar isn’t up, so will look that out and add it, for the sake of completeness. Incredible to think that this was all more than a year ago!

Chak Hee and Antonia in London

Chak Hee and Antonia in London


The first reunion

September 2, 2008
Me and Irina outside Gordon's Wine Bar

Me and Irina outside Gordon

Lots of joy when Irina and I met up during her trip to London. She’s in Hungary now and hoping to meet up with Peter and Bori, so the second reunion follows on very quickly after and I hope we’ll see pictures of that too. I also heard from Suuad and she is hoping to come to London in the autumn, so I should be able to catch up with her too. This is the best bit, seeing everyone afterwards (OK not the BEST, but very good). I hope that with being in London, I’ll get to see quite a few people.


Broadcasting the Fellowship

July 23, 2008

You can’t accuse the Eisenhower Fellowships of not being up to date with new technology! As well as our Facebook group, we have our own channel on YouTube, where you can catch up with loads of what we got up to and who we were, thanks to many videos from Nafees and a few from me.


Following up the experience

June 5, 2008

I’m in London now, having spent a couple of weeks in Brussels since arriving backfrom the Eisenhower thing. I started getting the house sorted, went down to France to sort things out with the house purchase there, and then had to pack for the move to London. One of my action points in my final report was to set up a blog to write about my work in London, after the great experience I had writing this one, and that has now been set up. You can view it at Hope it will have half the success of this one!

I’ve also got on with putting in place structures to allow the MNP class of 2008 to stay in touch. The yahoo groups had quite a few people signing up in the first days, but has gone quiet now. Facebook seems to be pulling them in though, and so we are building up the group there. So at least a har core of us will be in touch. Got to start planning that reunion now!


Back in Brussels

May 19, 2008

It’s over, and I’m home. Delighted to be here on many levels  – it was lovely being met at the airport by Abi and I’m seeing Rachel tonight, and it’s been joyous being with the cats, even if there was a bit of resentment from them when I arrived! But it’s such a wrench being away from my fellow Fellows – we’ve lived such an intense experience together over the past two months. So there’s a very bittersweet feeling going on.

The closing seminar week was lovely. Sunday was arrivals day and that fun bit of everyone meeting up again. Monday was writing our reports and in the evening we went to Ardrossan, the home of an EF supporter, whose family inspired the Philadelphia Story – how cool is that! Tuesday was show and tell of the artefacts and images we had been asked to bring back from our trip. Then we worked on our presentations – I was in a team with CV, Christian and Somkiat and we went for the low-fi option – 4 slides, a few findings and conclusions. Others were working on theirs for hours, but I think in the end it worked out, because we were able to generate quite a bit of debate among the group when we presented on Wednesday. Tuesday and Wednesday were also about working on the slideshow which Zuzanna and I did for the annual dinner on the Thursday, with a range of pictures gathered from the fellows. Tuesday night was fun – a dinner and reception just fellows and staff. After dinner Mark and I played a couple of songs, so the bass has had its first outing! Then after a few stories from the road, we all moved to the games room and played shuffleboard, babyfoot and pool. A lovely night just hanging out together.

Wednesday was the presentations and also a chance to hear from the Irish alumni about what they have done and stayed in contact. That was pretty inspirational – they had quite a role in keeping channels of communication open during the peace talks – but also quite unsettling- I had a feeling of “oh my, what have I got myself into, this is serious stuff!”. The Irish were immensely successful people, all at the top of their profession – I wonder where we will all be in 20 years?

Then we had the annual meeting on Thursday, which was like a graduation day. We left Villanova at 11.30 and went into Centre City, where we had lunch at EF House. I had bought a new dress at Donna Karan the evening before and changed after lunch. In terms of compliments per dollar, it was possibly the cheapest dress of my life!!! Then we went to this nice hotel, the Rittenhouse and had a seminar with Gen. Colin Powell, the EF Chairman, where we discussed our impressions from our trip. He asked about my new job and clearly found it quite amusing – even mentioned it when I had my photo taken with him at the end. After the seminar we had some time to ourselves, so I wandered in the park with Bori and Sonya – it was a lovely day. then a reception and dinner, during which the slideshow was shown and Sam made his speech as Chairman’s Fellow. The Irish accepted their award and Sen George Mitchell got the Eisenhower medal – he was hilarious! then all too soon, it was back on the bus back to Villanova. We hung out in the Games Room for a while, just saying goodbye. All got a bit emotional really. The next day was departure day and as I had one of the later flights, I had to see everyone off. I did go to the mall for an hour or so with Gil and Deema and had my nails done. Then it was 4.30 and time for my taxi. And then it was over. The flight was fine and I got met at the airport (useful with all my bags!). Went out with Abi and Rachel that night, which was lovely. But it’s a funny feeling to be back. I can’t remember where things are in my kitchen! I can’t deal with having such a large choice of clothes to wear! And I look round and think about packing this place up and my blood runs cold. Anyway, so many things to do now I’m back so I should get on with it.


New York Day 2 and goodbye!

May 12, 2008

Got a bit behind and so am only writing Friday up tonight-  Sunday. Sorry about that, I know you’ve been hanging on the edge of your seats – cough cough.

I started off meeting Corey Powell, executive editor of one of the big popular science magazines, Discover. We started off talking about this idea of a debate about Science for the 2008 Presidential candidates. We both felt (perhaps for slightly different reasons) that this was not necessarily a good idea, because it could seem elitist and because it “ghettoised” science as something that needs special attention and isn’t part of everyday issues. We discussed top-down/bottom-up approaches to political engagement in science (and scientific engagement in politics, I suppose) and felt that it was more a question of science engaging with the public policy process. But whichever way it was, a popular science magazine was somewhere where people went to get away from policy debates, and be entertained and interested, so this issue was not a big thing for them editorially.

I asked where they got their ideas for stories. It was from a variety of sources: press release services such as EurekAlert, agencies such as Associated Press, Science/Nature, or just ideas coming from the writers through the conferences they attend, people they meet, areas they cover. Or they “reverse engineer” stories to show the science angle of the big stories of the day.

The weather was absolutely foul that day, so I went back to the hotel between meetings to change. And got even more soaked on my way to the next meeting, which was at the Center for Energy, Marine Transportation and Public Policy at Columbia University. What a great hour or so I spent there. It’s so stimulating being around creative, intelligent people who are interested in what you have to say as well. I started with the director, Albert Bressand, who happens to be an advisor to the European Energy Commissioner. Given that theirs is very much a public policy centre, we talked about the role of technology in addressing energy and environment concerns within a policy framework. They mentioned an interesting study by McKinsey about how savings can be made with existing technologies (and apparently it raises how Europe is 15 years ahead of the US in this area. They were very interested in the lead markets initiative as it could apply to energy efficient buildings. The more “hands-on” type of government we have in Europe helps, because through the use of taxes etc it can help people make the financial case much more immediate. However they did see that in the US, there was alot of value in using cities as test beds, and they had done a study on CHP (combined heat and power) in New York, and were also looking at micro-grids and solar. They also do some really interesting work on marine transportation and energy use, could be worth investigating.

While there, I had a phone conversation with the Executive Director of the New York Energy Forum, and they were very keen to work with us to identify possible speakers, or explore other possibilities for co-operation.

Finally I talked with one of the Center’s researchers, Steve Hammer, who had done his PhD at the LSE and looked particularly at urban issues for renewables, particularly in London and NY. They were looking at what was going on in other cities, such as Paris and Shanghai. They are trying to develop a model to identify building-by-building energy use in New York, which could be used to make decisions about eg where to place micro-grids, and also get the real data out of the utility comapnies. They were also looking at attitudes. It would be interesting to see if there is some way to work with the New York side on this from a London and wider European urban centre persepctive – I need to see what can be done, perhaps in the context of the C40 process, which is a UK initiative or the urban climate change research process– but these are great people doing fascinating work. One area that is really surprising is the role of building code enforcement in optimising energy use – apparently proper enforcement of building codes could reduce emissions by 20-30%. It all feeds into the issue I have been getting into, the design of a building to influence positively what goes on in the building.

So, that was it! After that meeting, it was back to the hotel and then today, back to Philadelphia for the closing seminar. I have to give my computer back tomorrow or the next day, so I guess this will be my last post from the US. There may be some follow-up when I get back, so check-in occasionally! Thanks for the comments that have been left and the visits you have made. Keeping this blog has really helped me through the whole fellowship process – it has focused my mind before, during and particularly after meetings and really helped me to filter the information I received and make sense of it. I hope that you’ve found it a little interesting as well!


New York Day 1

May 7, 2008

Well, I’m in my last city of the trip, and the best has been saved for last – The Big Apple! I arrived yesterday by train from Philadelphia. Checked into the hotel (E44th and 1st) in the early afternoon and went out to get some chores done in the afternoon including laundry (there goes Sally to put another load on…!)

Today I headed over to Hoboken on the PATH (hadn’t been on that before) to meet John Horgan of the Centre for Science Writing at the Stevens Institute of Technology. It was a very informal meeting – we chatted in his office for a while and then went out for lunch with several of his colleagues. Very interesting though. John is one of the science journalists who came at it through the journalism side, not the science side. And he makes it a thing to be critical and questioning, even (especially?) of mainstream science, not allowing things to be taken for granted. A great approach, and a healthy one I think. But this is at a time when science is under attack from several sides and there is a feeling of circling the wagons. He writes a lot about the interface of religion and science, a really interesting subject and one at the forefront of my mind after reading the Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks by Christopher Brookmyre (recommended reading by the way!) and then watching Expelled. He also gave me some other really interesting contacts in the science communication world.

Over lunch discussion was a bit more general, covering the GMO issue in Europe, public attitudes to nanotech and of course the elections – big night last night.

I was supposed to meet a schoolfriend this afternoon, but she got stuck at work so we are meeting tomorrow. Tonight is Korean food with Chak Hee!! I’m very excited!