Alumni Q&A with Chris Winchester
1. When did you volunteer with Jacari?
I volunteered for Jacari from 1990 to 1997, was on the committee in 1992–4 and Chair 1993–4.
2. Who was your pupil?
I taught two girls from Pakistan who had moved to Rose Hill. I think they were 10 and 12 when I first met them in 1990 and I taught them until I left in 1997. I am still in touch with them, but haven’t seen them for a couple of years.
3. Can you tell us the most vivid memory of your time as a Jacari volunteer?
The day I first met them. They had no phone, so I had to cycle up to Rose Hill and knock on the door. Luckily they were expecting me, and welcomed me in like a long-lost member of the family. The father said, “Come in, come in. Have a glass of whisky, I’ve just won on the horses.” Not what I was expecting from a Pakistani family!
I also remember a wonderful trip to see the film Aladdin at the cinema on George Street.
4. What are you doing now?
I run a communications company, Oxford PharmaGenesis, that works on behalf of pharmaceutical companies to communicate the evidence between new treatments for patients with anything from rare diseases to cancer.
5. How has being a volunteer with Jacari influenced you later in life?
After Oxford, I spent two months in South Africa, teaching science in a school in a township just outside Johannesburg. It was only three years after the end of apartheid, and so white faces in such locations were still a novelty. I can’t say for sure how much science the children learnt, though I made sure we did lots of hands-on experiments, and we had a lot of fun!
The death of George Floyd in the USA last year has re-energised my interest in racial equality. As a company we kicked off our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) initiative with a listening exercise to ensure that our activities in the area reflect the needs and concerns of our minority employees. I have also been involved in several wider EDI initiatives in my sector.