Our 2nd day in Cambridge was quite busy. We started off with what is apparently a required Cambridge activity: punting on the river along 7 of the major Colleges. Not only do you get to enjoy the beautiful view of the colleges and gardens, but you also get to hear about the various anecdotes related to the colleges and their famous students.
We learned for example that Prince Charles attended Trinity College – the wealthiest of all colleges at Cambridge – and even though he asked to be treated like everyone else, it didn’t quite happen that way. While the Prince lived with the rest of the students in the dormitory, he alone occupied 27 rooms. He also had a personal bodyguard who accompanied him everywhere – even to his classes. The anecdote says that when it was time for final exams, the bodyguard took the same exams but had a much higher score than his Royal Highness . He unfortunately was not granted a degree because he was never officially enrolled as a student.
To those of you who were asking about our delayed luggage, here is the story. The airline called us as we were stepping out from the punt and informed us that they would deliver our luggage “right around tea time, M’aam.” At that point, we wished we could move “tea time” to the morning, but since we were in England, we had no choice but to cave in and go shopping. The luggage actually arrived later in the evening.
The screening itself went very well. The theater was packed, and there were even a few people sitting on the stairs. We were honored that there was such interest about our film and we would like to thank our host Dr. Rory Finnin, who is not only doing a wonderful job promoting Ukrainian films through the annual Ukrainian Film Festival that he created but who is also one of the most prominent scholars and promoters of Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian studies in England.
As always, the discussion was very interesting and we were honestly very pleasantly surprised by the questions from the younger audience who demonstrated great knowledge and interested about the history of Galicia and current affairs of modern-day Ukraine and Poland. We noticed that during the discussion and also in private conversations afterwards, people were genuinely interested in learning more about the region and about the topics that we are exploring in our film. That is one thing that stuck us in Cambridge: you can really feel that there is a great respect for knowledge and creating optimal conditions for learning. One example of that is the fact that students who have better grades get larger rooms in the college accommodations.
After the screening, we had a pleasant surprise: we got a chance to see The Ukrainians, the legendary rock band based in England who were performing that night at a pub in Cambridge. Their original songs are a modern interpretation of traditional Ukrainian and Roma music.
What can we tell you? It was a lot of fun! Our feet are still recovering from that night. We also had a chance to meet a lot of people who had come to our screening – including the band members – and it was a pleasure to party together after spending the afternoon engaged in a pretty serious discussion.
The perfect ending for this great day was the tour of Cambridge by night that Rory Finnin was kind enough to offer us after the concert. While walking from the pub to our residence at King College, we got a chance to visit a large part of the city including two of the Colleges in Cambridge: Jesus College and Trinity College. We felt very privileged that we got to hear many inside stories and anecdotes. In Trinity College, for example, we saw the fountain where it is said that Lord Byron, who was a rebellious student, used to bathe to annoy the higher authorities. We also saw the quarter where Gareth Jones lived. Jones, a graduate of Trinity College, was a Welsh journalist who first reported the existence of the Holodomor, the Great Ukrainian Famine of 1932-33, in the Western world.
So many brilliant people attended those colleges for so many centuries that it seems like every stone has a story and a famous footprint.
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