So, there’s been a few days of radio silence as I was at the Grand Canyon with no internet access. My last day at Miami was at the University. I was supposed to see one of the VPs, but he didn’t arrive, so I talked to the Communications people. I think the most interesting outcome for me was that this communication thing is pretty much the same wherever it is you are doing it – the challenges are the same, what works is the same. That’s a great eye-opener, because it means that if I want, I have a whole range of new options in front of me outside the public sphere. Don’t worry Reijo, I’m still coming to London in June!!!
Then we went to the Grand Canyon. What goes to the Grand Canyon stays at the Grand Canyon (!) but we had a great time and it was fantastic to reconnect with everyone in a relaxed atmosphere. Plus I had a lovely birthday there what with the Fellows spoiling me, plus all the messages I got from you all back home.
But it’s all over too soon and now we’re back in the saddle. I spent the day today in Dallas at the corporate headquarters of ExxonMobil, with Deema, Sam and Omar. We had a full day of discussions, and there was a lot of interest in there. While there were people talking to us about their education initiatives and corporate citizenship actions, there was a quite refreshing acceptance of the fact that they’re a corporation and they do things, including their more philanthropic activities, for a business reason, not for the “joy of giving”. But they are nonetheless doing some interesting things. For example, they require all their employees in Africa to take malaria tablets and work with them to cut malaria among their workforce and so among the local community. They are doing some interesting things in the maths and science education field in the US. All the usual problems that regular readers will be familiar with came up, including the issue that most initiatives dealing with this are local. So they are involved with a National Science and Maths Initiative. Must find out more about that. They are doing a really interesting thing – encouraging their retiring employees who have science and maths experience to retrain as teachers. They support them through teachers training and so on. A really interesting idea!
We had a presentation of their energy outlook to 2030. I will try to find a copy to send to some of you. They said they are doing work on on-board hydrogen production, so, filling a car with petrol which is converted into hydrogen for a fuel cell to run the car, rather than an internal combustion engine. Not something I’d heard about before – are we doing any of this?
Lunch was a reminder of how the best part of this programme is the other fellows. We were talking US politics and our host asked Deema what the view was in Jordan about the US troops in Iraq. Clearly such an emotional issue for her, and she gave her view so clearly and calmly, without ducking away from the issues, like the rejection in the Middle East of all reasons given for the Iraq invasion and the impact it has had on the lives of not only millions of Iraqis, but the whole region. I’m not taking a position, just saying that I love being able to have these conversations in a spirit of openness and dialogue. At the end of the day, that’s been the most valuable thing.
After that I hopped on a flight to Denver, picked up another hire car and am now at a hotel near the airport, getting ready to drive to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory tomorrow. Looking forward to that!