Telephone Campaign – A brief rush of sentimentality

Telephone Campaign 2017 caller Matt
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By Matt, 2017 caller

This is my fourth year at Trinity Hall and my first Telephone Campaign! It is a special opportunity for me – now in the later stages of my PhD in social psychology –  to contribute towards the profound sense of collegiality that has defined my time here. I originally picked Trinity Hall for its intimate size and strong academic standing, but have since also come to love College for its all-round geniality, candle lit dinners, diverse fellowship and quaint grounds. Through the calling campaign I have met many alumni who share similarly fond sentiments.

For instance, I recently had an enriching conversation with an Australian-based alumnus. He works to translate climate change research insights to the farmers who are affected most. He stressed that climate change effects are often hard to communicate outside because they manifest mostly as changes in the long-run averages in things like rainfall. Then, he passionately told me some of the ways his team used behavioural insights – like framing things in terms of relative risk – to help farmers maintain their yields. As a budding psychologist bent on doing impactful work, his career trajectory and passion helped cement the idea that I too might have an impactful and pro-social career. It was a timely reminder now that I have entered the somewhat myopic ‘write-up’ phase of my PhD.

From there, we spoke about our respective times at Trinity Hall. Despite being years apart we had both lived at Wychfield, sipped coffee in the MCR, and lingered in conversation at the end of countless formal dinners. He told me of the time when Master Lyons (1985-2000) humbly helped a fresher carry her bags through front court, and another when he found himself sitting right beside Stephen Hawking in a lecture! I’d have easily told him about our recent Harry Potter Hall and Master Morris’s lyrical dinnertime addresses, but I was taken with a brief rush of sentimentality.

True, Trinity Hall’s 2017 Telephone Campaign does aim to raise money for pressing philanthropic needs, like student support and outreach. However, it is much more about kindling (and rekindling) the kinds of intergenerational relationships that make collegial Cambridge, and Tit Hall in particular, so special. It is these, as much as any sum raised, that will sustain College now and into the future.