• Summer 2018 UK

Oxford and MINI's: Who would have thought they have anything in common

Today we started with our scholarly roots in Oxford. After a peaceful drive through the countryside we arrived for our tour of one of the most well known college towns in the world. We split into three smaller groups and ventured off into the crowds. This is one of the busiest places we have gone with crowds of tourists filling the streets.

Our tour guide sharing with us the immense history that surrounded us.

Students learned about the process of preserving the ancient buildings that surrounded them.

You can really see the difference between the old and restored sandstone.

Additionally, we heard tales of the famous writers who have walk the same streets we were walking. C.S. Lewis walked these steets among many others.

I see Aslan and Mr. Tumnus in this door, maybe inspiration?

The weather held up and we saw as much as we could in a short period of time before lunch.

David had made a promise for a special Harry Potter themed surprise at the end of all of our tours. He did not disappoint. As we walked into the New College Cloister students eyes widened. We were standing in the same spot that a pivotal scene was filmed in the Goblet of Fire.

Unfortunately I was not quick enough to catch the group shot under the tree.

After our tours we loaded back onto the bus and headed off towards the Mini plant. Now I am not going to lie, I was not excited for this activity. The mood on the bus seemed to reflect a similar sentiment as we made our way to the outskirts of Oxford. even after David yelled with joy about finding a truck FULL of gluten free food, waking everybody up and severely startling most of us, the energy and mood still did not rise.

We arrived at the plant and walked through the small museum showing the history of the Mini waiting for the tour to begin. We split into our three groups again and donned our brightly colored vests and protective eye gear. Unfortunately pictures are not allowed in the plant.

We jumped into a nicely air conditioned van and drove into the complex where we were dropped off at the first stop. We walked into a room full of robots working seamlessly and diligently on assembling parts. It was like watching a dance without music. Every robot dancing around its neighbors. It was both beautiful and disconcerting. We all learned about how the transition to robotic assembly increased safety and efficiency but also decreased jobs. This being a common storyline in western society.

Our tour finished in the final vehicle assembly plant which had mostly completed Mini's flying over our heads as we got to watch the final steps before a new Mini drove off the assembly line. Every 67 seconds a new Mini is born.

The mood after the tour was completely different. People were exhausted but excited. The plant was a hit for many and David once again had proven that sometimes you just have to go into something with an open mind. You never know when you might learn something new.

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