An educational experience outside of academia – Attending the InvestInBlue conference in Liverpool  - bCarolyn Graham and Polina Baum-Talmor

We were both delighted to have been awarded gratis spaces by the organizers to attend the staging of “InvestinBlue”, the maritime focused event within the wider International Festival for Business (IFB) 2016.  The event was held at the impressive Exhibition Centre in Liverpool on June 15th and 16th, by National Maritime and Jobs in Maritime organizations.  Being business focused, the event proved useful as a source of knowledge about the wider commercial issues that influence shipping in the UK, and further afield.  Speakers span the range from the more technical and environmental to the financial and political.  For example, there were presentations by the UK Chamber of Shipping reflecting on UK’s maritime future; Green Sea Guard Limited explored emissions monitoring and sustainable development, including the innovative idea of floating houses around the UK; and the London-based Tideway, emphasized the importance of the cleanliness of the river Thames and its effects on local residents. 

There was also a panel discussion on port resilience and storms, exploring the vulnerabilities and the unfortunate lack of readiness of some of UK’s ports, which was quite interesting and generated much discussion. The politics of the day, the looming referendum on the UK’s place in the EU, also entered the event with the Minister of State for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise, making it clear which direction she thought was better to support small businesses.  Access to the entire festival also provided even greater opportunities for networking and learning.  From under water hull cleaning technology (which may get as far as the IMO) to handbags - there was much to see and learn.

Our presence also proved valuable, in some small way, by bringing the human element of shipping to the event.  The absence of “people” in the presentations was noteworthy.  Networking and explaining about our separate studies and overall about SIRC and what we do here, contributed to raising some awareness about seafarers and their lives.  Finally, a suggestion was made to the organizers to take the human aspect of shipping into consideration for future staging of the event.



"Congratulations to Mr Sasakawa on winning the 2014 International Maritime Prize" by Carolyn Graham  - 23rd November 2015 

Nippon Fellows from SIRC were on hand to join in congratulating Mr. Sasakawa on the occasion of being awarded the International Maritime Prize for 2014.

The prize was presented in November 23, 2015 at the beginning of the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Council meeting.

The International Maritime Prize is awarded annually by the IMO Council to an individual or organization judged to have made an outstanding contribution to the work and objectives of the IMO.

Mr. Sasakawa was recognized for his support to maritime education and training involving the IMO's World Maritime University and other maritime education institutions.


He was also recognized for contributions in other areas such as ocean governance, maritime security, maritime safety and marine environment protection.

A number of WMU Sasakawa fellows, including some of us from SIRC, met with Mr. Sasakawa at a specially arranged meeting to give updates on our activities as part of the fellows' network.

After the meeting we were hosted to an enjoyable evening of traditional Japanese dining by our beloved Mr. Kudo (Eisuke Kudo) and Shin (Shinichi Ichikawa).


   "No Wifi no Wife" by Carolyn Graham - Maritime Welfare Big Debate - 8th September 2015


Despite increasing access to communication technology on board ships, seafarers’ remain isolated and still experience challenges in accessing internet connections for personal communication. This was one of the main concerns discussed at the Maritime Welfare Big Debate on September 8, at the beginning of London International Shipping Week (LISW) 2015.

Organised by port welfare providers, the event discussed ongoing welfare concerns of poor working conditions, abandonment, piracy and lack of communication, to name a few.

One example that stuck with me was the threat to family life and relationships posed by the lack of access to communication technology to maintain these essential personal ties. One seafarer’s experience of marital breakdown was used to exemplify the importance of communication in the maintenance of family life. The grim truth which seemed to emerge, at least from my understanding, is that it is possible to increase and improve access to communication on board ships with present technology, but it will not be done unless it suits the financial interests of those with the power to do so.


The event was attended by a wide cross-section of welfare providers and other maritime interests such as maritime administrations, shipping companies and researchers. SIRC was in attendance, represented by Iris Acejo, Mark Llangco and myself.



"SIRC at SOCSI Postgraduate Dinner at the Parc Thistle Hotel, Cardiff" by Carolyn Graham - 14th May 2015

 The inaugural SOCSI Postgraduate Dinner at the Parc Thistle on 14th May was a hit with everyone. The evening was enjoyable, full of laughter, drinks, food and entertainment. the space was elegantly decorated befitting the occasion. SIRC members were out to partake of the lovely evening.


The evening began with pre-dinner drinks. Seating was assigned, designated by names of famous Social Scientists. Dinner was served - a three course meal and wine, or alternative for those who were so inclined. A few speeches - not too many - and an award winning harpist completed the offerings. Everyone agreed it was a lovely evening, time well spent, and we are all looking forward to next year's staging.




   "Work, Fun, Fellowship!" by Carolyn Graham- 30 October 2014 

It was Sunday 6 July 2014, one day after returning from the Roof of Africa - yes, the one and only Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the highest free standing mountain in the world and the only place on the equator where snow is to be found, 5895m/19,340 feet - I made it to the top, an accomplishment I am proud of and was made possible by my coming to Cardiff where the notion to undertake such a feat had been planted. This is just one of the many opportunities that can become possible by awareness. However I digress. July 6 found me on a bus with other SIRC fellows to attend my first “event.” And an event it was. We were transported in luxury (by coach) to the quaint Llansantffraed Court Hotel in Monmouthshire, just about an hour away, but a world different from the hustle and bustle of Cardiff. It was a quiet, peaceful and picturesque property, a welcome break and perfect location for the task at hand. The service was excellent and food a-plenty and tasty too! It was a week of work, fun and fellowship.

The main aim of the gathering was to explore, discuss and create writing partnerships which would see “old” and “new” fellows work together and hopefully complete writing projects by the following year’s event. This was a brilliant way of us getting to know each other and learn of the work of those currently at SIRC at various stages of their PhDs, as well as those who had successfully transitioned to the realm of PhDs and are working at SIRC or wider afield. I was pleased to meet in person the faces behind (or it is before?), well, some of the faces responsible for some of the articles and theses read for assignments while completing the diploma in social sciences research methods and exploring topics for my own PhD.

It was a week of training, exchanging of ideas and camaraderie. This year we had the pleasure of an extended event as we also went to Durham to witness the miners’ gala. This was a spectacular gathering of banners and marching bands commemorating the labour struggles of the miners of that city. A rich history of fortitude, not unlike the seafarers’ we study at SIRC, was on display. I look forward to our next event and hope to meet a few more fellows who were not able to attend this year. I feel truly honoured to be counted among a brilliant group of people who are making their contribution towards greater understanding and awareness of the lonely world of the seafarer.


   "The First Alumni Event" by Lin Li- 11 July 2008 

I was informed of the event by an e-mail from SIRC while I was in Dalian, China doing the fieldwork for my current research project. I wondered what it could be like. When I have just come back from the two day event held at Llansantffraed Court, Abergavenny, I can now answer my own question.

After an hour of minibus ride on Tuesday 8 July 2008, excluding Jessica who is attending her law school in the USA and three gents who came later in one fellow’s car, all SIRC-Nippon fellows arrived at Llansantffraed Court. The petite hotel is situated in a background of beautiful British countryside. Tranquillity was the first thing I picked up. After being checked into their rooms most fellows soon came out to muster on the grass and started their photo taking or being photographed. Before we reached a small abandoned church on the other side of a pool full of floating plants, we picked cherries and apples from trees and ate them. We meandered our way to seek sunshine because giant trees created patches of shades on the grass field and it is not warm in Wales of this summer. Cows were grazing on a large patch of grass at a distance but within sight. We did not walk back until the dinner time. When we finished our meals our director arrived and she collected all the fellows on the croquet field and divided them into three teams. Soon after two teams kicked off, it went into cordial chaos by which members of one team could take advantage of their opponents if their opponents forgot to keep a close watch on them. A theatrical turn around brought the team deemed to lose to victory, but it was too late to begin the final and therefore the members of team one had been spectators the whole evening when the other two teams tried to win the sports head-on.

The following two days were of inspiring and informative. The University’s prestigious professors delivered us in different manners lectures in their specialised areas of expertise. We were bombarded by aspects of inequality, class, ethnicity, health, and society during the two days. To take these aspects further workshops were arranged in afternoons after these lectures to relate the elements to shipping and seafarers. It could be a bit tiring after whole day engagement but I believe we have gained from the lectures and workshops. On top of these lectures, how to raise SIRC-Nippon Fellow profile in the media was emphasised by the publicity officer of SOCSI and concerns of equality and diversity at Cardiff University were introduced by an expert. Even though many of fellows seemed exhausted on their way back to Cardiff, it is too good to say goodbye at the end of their journey home.


   "A Different Sort of Christmas Party" by Syamantak Bhattacharya - 21 December 2004 

On 15th December the SIRC staff and students went on a Christmas picnic of a slightly unusual kind. We went to Llangorse farm, a horse riding and adventure getaway in Brecon, north of Cardiff.

It was like a school outing with a busload of chirpy and excited people. We reached the farm at 10:00am and immediately geared up for the trail. We all had different levels of experience with horse riding - I had none.

The countryside was picturesque and breathtaking. It was grey and misty, and in the distance the sun broke through the clouds, and the fields and hills glowed in the golden sunshine. It looked surreal to me because all of a sudden there was no traffic, noise, lectures, assignments, coughs and colds. But here, in the quiet of the meadows, with misty skies and sun-painted landscapes, this was surely paradise.

After the two-hour pony trail, we went to an inn for a traditional Christmas lunch.  The food was sumptuous and there was a wide variety. We tucked into a five-course meal and I haven't eaten since! We played a few games and yelled a lot till it was time to go home.

What a beautiful day it was.

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