|23 Nov 2022|
Old Eastbournians and ES members who live and work in the Middle East enjoyed a sunset harbour cruise in Dubai on Saturday 19 November. Emma Garrett was on hand to pass on news about the College and the exciting plans for new bursaries, and it was also a chance for OEs to reminisce about school days and the opportunities that a College education had given them.
Ismail Radwan (Pennell 1982-87) writes:
Now that the searing heat of Dubai’s summer is little more than a fading memory and the change of season has ushered in the balmy nights of early autumn, it seemed like an opportune moment to catch a sunset cruise and meet up with OEs living in the region. Who could resist the allure of free food and drinks and a chance to make new friends and meet up with old ones? So when Oscar Orellana-Hyder (Reeves 2002-07) and his wife Niki Mapouras-Hyder (Blackwater 2002-07) reached out with an invitation I quickly accepted.
I flew in from Riyadh and found myself on the dock of the harbour with a score of expectant participants with varying degrees of connection to the College. The group spanned seasoned veterans on the cusp of retirement all the way to fresh-faced youngsters barely out of university. No one knew anyone else it seemed. But we needn’t have worried, for our shared experiences of the College either as pupils, parents or residents of the town, was more than enough to bond us tightly together.
The ship sailed out of Dubai harbour with the magnificent backdrop of skyscrapers forming a carefully curated cityscape: an instagrammer’s dream. We barely noticed the beauty of the surroundings as we were so engrossed in the business of telling and listening to each other’s stories. The modern-day equivalent of the tribal campfire. I saw faces and heard names that seemed familiar and discovered middle-aged men that had known me in my shorts-wearing prep school years, friends that I did not know I had.
Understandably each had followed his or her own path from music to finance and everything in between, but all had led to Dubai, the region’s cosmopolitan entrepôt. The eclectic group with a dozen ethnicities matched Dubai’s profile and its ambition to look to the future without forgetting the past. This was a chance to unabashedly revel in nostalgia with many a story starting with 'in my time…' and ending with a hilarious anecdote attesting to the impossible events that nonetheless took place while at the College.
Even if we did not know it or appreciate it at the time, those of us who studied at the College had a privileged education. The College brought the world to us in our youth. We were able to play sports, take part in music and cultural events, study and achieve and give back to the community.
The Dubai OE reunion was an excellent reminder of the brilliant experiences of our school days, all that we have to be grateful for and, for me, an opportunity to learn more from our Development Director Emma Garrett about the fundraising drive that aims to make that opportunity available to those that could not otherwise afford it.
I enjoyed meeting so many interesting OEs. I hope that we will grow this emerging community of Eastbournians far from home and that we will be able to support the College charity to achieve its goal of providing this opportunity to up to seven percent of the student body.
As Ben Franklin said, 'an investment in education pays the best interest'.
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