On February 4th, I had the honor and pleasure of attending an invite-only event welcoming the Italian Ambassador to the United States to the University of Oklahoma campus. The luncheon was held in the Sandy Bell Gallery of the Fred Jones Museum of Art, a very unexpected location. I had the interesting, albeit slightly uncomfortable, experience of sitting in assigned seats, not among friends but among professors, visitors to the university, and postgraduate research fellows. Although at first I was worried to be among strangers, I soon struck up a very interesting conversation with an Italian postdoctoral fellow who came to OU to work with the library to create open source documents of historical scientific works. I spent a very enjoyable lunch chatting with this highly intellectual man, who I would not have ever met otherwise.
After an hour of lunching on lamb and potatoes, we finally heard the ambassador speak. He discussed Italian-American relations, and, not having an extensive knowledge of this topic, I had a bit of trouble following his highly condensed historical account. Surprisingly, this main event took up only 15 minutes of the entire luncheon.
However, I was honored to be invited and glad to have spent much of the hour discussing life, travel, religion, and science with a complete stranger.