Over 200 years after Wordsworth penned one of his epic poems luminaries from nearly every corner of the globe gathered in a Lake District cave to ponder the immortal words.
On a five-day course at University of Cumbria’s (UoC) Ambleside campus, the gathering included Zambian high commissioner, Benson Chali, third-sector agencies, NGOs, politicians, financiers, mining and shipping experts, medics and educators.
All Masters Business Administration (MBA) students on a joint programme with UoC and the Robert Kennedy College in Zurich, the Lake District residential experience was specifically designed to explore ethics, responsibility and sustainability.
Course leader, Dr Grace Hurford, explained in the heart of the new World Heritage Site it was right to look to the Lake District’s leading bard for inspiration and lessons.
She said: “Our delegates this week come from the Caribbean, South Africa, China, Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Angola, Jamaica, Australia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Vietnam, to name a few.
“Typically, our MBA students work in or on deserts, glaciers, refugee camps, battlefields, oil rigs, and in cities and towns worldwide.
“Yet here, in the tiny village of Rydal, they explored Wordworth’s words in The Tables Turned, advocating quitting books and letting nature be the teacher.
“The Prelude, one of his most famous pieces of work, emphasises positive power and the shaping influence of key moments in his life, which he called ‘spots of time’. It has so much to teach us two centuries after it was written.
“We explored this in the darkness of Rydal cave to bring a sense of being cut off from the world and assess our own watershed points and the part they played in our development.”
Zambian High Commissioner Benson Chali, who also covers Burunda, Comoros Islands, Rwanda and Uganda, said he was ‘awestruck’.
He added: “What we have learned here will go back to our countries. All of us are bosses but we return as leaders with experiences that will last a lifetime and help change the world.”
Nigerian risk management lawyer and banker, Chidinma Chuka-Nwosu, said it had taken her 10-years to save up to do the course and being in Ambleside was a ‘life-defining dream come true’.
For Colombian Luis Castaneda, who lives in the Dominican Republic and works as a plant director for a jewellery subsidiary of Tiffany & Co, it was an empowering push to ‘think big and act now for changes that will make the difference’.
And head of health for the free state of South Africa, Dr David Motau, said: “This is an unbelievable opportunity for us to come together to share ideas and experiences. We couldn’t have done it in a better place.”
Dr Hurford concluded: “It gives us a great sense of pride when people of such calibre chose to study with us and share what they have learned with countries, companies and communities around the world.”