My passion for filmmaking began in my first GCSE class of Media Studies at King Edward VI. From then on I felt excitement every time my camera came out of its bag, which carried on through my sixth form experience, and now finishing my years at Ravensbourne University London.
To be able to complete my Digital Film Production degree, I had to make any moving picture production called a Final Major Project, therefore, I had chosen a music video. This is because I have always enjoyed the art and aesthetic of music videos, that can highlight the visual creativity of the sounds we listen to.
My music video idea surrounded female empowerment; working with a female artist to promote herself and her music to others, subtracting the stereotypical representation of females as sexual objects in music videos. I am also aware that we have come a long way in the film industry with regards to this subject on female objectification and the male gaze, however with this project I intend on carrying on this positive change. Therefore, I planned my camera shot types, and movement that helps promote the artist and her track in a different and creative way. Once we had received the music track from our artist, we were able to get more of a feel for what the song was about; the lyrics reveal it is about love and how it can last ‘longer than a month’, which is why we decided to film it in one continuous shot reinforcing this concept from the song.
As some may know, producing a film can come at a significant cost, and due to the recent pandemic, gathering funds to produce this video became very difficult, which is where the Old Burians came in to help me. From this, we were able to hire out the equipment needed, feed the crew on the day, supply finance for our cast and crew regarding travel, and hire a competent post-production editor and colourist, which significantly brought the whole project together.
This grant enabled me to complete my degree with a finalised music video, as our university was providing limited financial support during the COVID-19 pandemic. At Ravensbourne, we have a very large Digital Film Production course of around 200 people, with only two working cinema cameras available to us. This is why I decided to hire out external camera equipment, because of the high demand at our university, especially with the majority of our lectures online, and a limited time frame to film before the deadline. Thankfully, the film industry were still allowed to go ahead during the COVID-19 lockdown, which was why my Final Major Project was able to be filmed this academic year.
I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity the Old Burians have provided me with, especially as I can also use this video as a part of my portfolio to get work, and progress successfully in the film industry.
Stomach muscles burning; Body trembling; Mind determined to not give in. A sudden hit of the wooden sticks cueing a whole chorus of 30 students to perform the MacBeth ‘Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow’ speech whilst in a Suzuki Theatre position.
Welcome to the summer intake course to the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain.
On the 13th August 2019 I walked down the high street to Goldsmiths University of London with my new flat mates and our yoga mats in hand. Out of 6,000 people who auditioned, just 300 successful applicants were beginning the adventure. We were ready to embark on the three weeks of intense, professional training. I was put into Course 5 (out of 10 courses) with 29 other students to complete our intake into the National Youth Theatre. Being led by our director Lukas Angelini and our course assistant Yinka Fadeyi, we received a massive variety of training from Japenese Suzuki training, Anne Boggart’s Viewpoint theory, yoga and improvisation. The variety of explorations and their distinctiveness created an even playing field for all members – no matter age or previous training, we all learnt together.
The senior course of NYT accepts 18 – 25 year olds from all around Great Britain and in my course we even had someone from Los Angeles! NYT are an ensemble company and this was highlighted during our training. We were 30 young adults from Liverpool to Kent, Wales to Suffolk, all having experienced life in very different ways, but being brought together to create a strong ensemble. The term ‘strength in numbers’ has never felt more genuine as we discussed topical debates from education to environmental issues. Some discussions were certainly more heated than others, but experiencing the passion and devotion in young people and their beliefs was inspiring. We are the next generation of adults. We have a voice and we own our opinions. In today’s current political and environmental situation it is sometimes easier to forget that ‘ignorance is bliss’. Yet NYT gave us the space to speak up through the means of theatre.
Since completing my course and becoming an official member of the National Youth Theatre, the new found confidence and determination in me is overt. I have been up to London for workshops with new companies NYT recommend. These have challenged me in new ways – allowing me to improve, meet new people and develop my comprehension of the industry. Also, I was put forward by NYT to a casting company looking to audition young people for a new TV series. Attending a professional audition in the heart of London and acting in front of people who cast films such as ‘Star Wars’ and ‘The Theory of Everything’ is an opportunity that would usually be so out of reach whilst living in a small village in Suffolk. Yet, NYT made it a possibility.
However, it was the generous funding from the Old Burians’ Charitable Trust that enabled me to attend my intake course and live in London for three weeks. Their kind contribution led me to be trained by professionals, make contacts and provide me with exciting opportunities. Thanks to their help, I can now say that I am a proud member of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain.
The Lillois like to blame their notoriously wet weather on the British, seeing as they have been connected to us by the Eurostar for last twenty years. In October, thanks to the help of the Old Burians, I was lucky enough to travel to Lille for a week of work experience whilst living with a local host family. I went to Lille to not only improve my French, but to experience first-hand the culture and mode de vie of France. Despite their grudge about the rain, I had an invaluable, often challenging but utterly enjoyable experience.
My host family, Eric and Cécile were self-confessed anglophiles and when they weren’t asking me about the complexities of Brexit or the Royal Family, were incredibly helpful and kind for the week I lived with them. They shared their culture with pride, encouraging me to try every type of bread, wine and cheese that Lille had to offer. They even took me bowling. Living so close to Belgium and Germany, it was fascinating to see how these cultures mix in a way we would never see at home. Their favourite beers were Belgian, their favourite television channel was bilingual, and they envy German society. These were people that lived just miles away from two completely different cultures but instead of shunning them and turning inwards, they embrace it.
Every day, before the sun was even up, I had to navigate my way across Lille’s metro to make it to the auberge de jeunesse (youth hostel) that I was working at. During my time at the hostel I developed my bartending, barista-ing and washing-up skills as much as I did my French. The challenge of speaking a new language and operating in a new culture and environment was a fantastic experience. Occasionally not understanding everything everyone said did lead to me being unwittingly roped into tasks such as having to drag a 30-foot piece of cladding through the hostel lobby. That was just part of the thrill.
After I left work, I was free to explore Lille. I don’t believe I could have visited any city as culturally bursting with life as Lille. Lille has been fought over and besieged countless times during its thousands of years of history. This turns the city centre into a melting pot where this history clashes together – most obviously where the typical French splendour of the Belle Époque opera house sits uncomfortably next to a row of small, gabled Flemish houses. According to Éric, there is still a 17th century cannon ball lodged into the wall of the town hall, presumably put there during a dispute about architecture. A few friends I had made from the rest of the group and I made it our tradition to meet at a patisserie, eat an escargot au raisin and find somewhere to explore in the city. My personal favourite was the Palais des Beaux-Arts, which was one of France’s first art museums and was built on the orders of Napoleon. The looming statue of him in the entrance hall doesn’t make its patronage very subtle.
When I first sat down on the train at the beginning of the week it would be no lie to say that I was terrified. In a typical teenage overreaction, I had no idea what would face me or how I could ever cope. By the time I waved Eric and Cécile goodbye a week later I realised how incredible an experience it had been. My French improved, but even more importantly I gained an immeasurable amount of life experience and confidence, that could not have happened if it wasn’t for the help of the Old Burians.
Joe was subsequently offered a place to study French at Oxford University.
In December 2018, Ada wrote:
“I am currently in my 4th month of an eleven month placement in rural India as an English teacher. Yes, it is hot, the food is spicy, and the insects are enormous. Despite all the amazing experiences I have already had, it would be inaccurate to say everything has been great in my time in India so far. My experience here has been one of stark contrasts; often witnessing something sickeningly sad and something overwhelming heart-warming in the same morning. However, there is nowhere else I’d rather be.
Project Trust, a U.K. charity that sends young people to volunteer around the world, selected me in October 2017 to go to India as a teacher. Subsequently, I was placed here in Sevalaya, where I will be living and working until July next year. Sevalaya is an Indian NGO that works to create opportunities and care for poor people in rural India. They run various projects free of charge, including an Old Age Home, children’s hostels, Community Colleges, a Goushala (a cow shelter), and a Primary and Secondary school.
In the first few weeks at Sevalaya, Catherine, the other volunteer I was paired with, and I spent our time helping with the ICT and Spoken English classes at the Community College. The NGO runs several of these colleges around Tamil Nadu, offering free courses in practical skills, with the aim of lifting students out of poverty and into the job market. Since then, although our teaching is now focused in the primary school, we have visited other community colleges. Interviewing the young people we meet there is the best part of our ‘social media work’. Social media is a job that we have somehow fallen into. On arrival Sevalaya asked us if we would help with their website and social media. The non-profit organisation relies entirely on donations, and an online presence is the best way to attract new donors. However, given that knowledge of written English, let alone hashtags, is far from abundant here, we are happy to help.
I now teach English to 1st and 2nd standard (five to eight year olds) six days a week. The primary and secondary school numbers around 2,000 children from the surrounding villages, where child labour was rife before Sevalaya was founded. Although often raucous, the children continually amaze me with their hard work. 1st standard’s gutsy rendition of ‘Row, row, row your boat’ brings a tear of pride to my eye every time. Three members of second standard class (who are deemed ‘slow learners’) won prizes in a competition talking about their favourite foods. It is the best feeling in the world to bump into one of the pupils in the village and to be able to have a, if very basic, conversation with them in English whilst their parent looks on in amazement. I also run extra tuition for some nine year old girls who are behind in their studies. Although their obsession with stickers persists, they can now say ‘Can I have a sticker, please?’ rather than ‘sticker, sister, sticker!’. These little victories are more than enough motivation to put my all into every lesson, regardless of how many class bundles break out.
Much of my time is also spent at the boys’ and girls’ hostels. The children that live here (from the ages of five to eighteen), for various reasons, can no longer live with their families. We do homework, play sports, and organise clubs, as well as eating, dancing, celebrating festivals, and chatting with them. They are some of the brightest, kindest individuals I have met, and I’m honoured to play any part in aiding them to become the successful, happy adults they aspire to be.
Currently I am on holiday for Christmas. Despite the delight that comes with having the first hot shower I’ve had in 3 months, I am already missing the screeches of ‘sister’ that usually greet me everywhere I go. I dread to think how I will feel when I leave. However, this experience, along with three As at A level, has helped me get a place at Leeds University next year to study Politics – for which I am very excited.
I cannot thank the Old Burians enough for their support. My heart aches to think of all the kindness that got me here. Opportunities like this would be out of reach for so many young people if it weren’t for the generosity of trusts like yours.”
During the Summer of 2018 I took the opportunity to embark on an experience of a lifetime. The Lord Dannatt’s Round Britain Challenge (LDRBC) was one of the Army Cadet Force’s principal events to mark the end of the First World War 100 years on. The challenge was split down to four legs, going capital city to capital city of each of the nations which make up Great Britain. On each leg there would be 20 cadets and 8 veterans to make up the main bulk of the crew. I was lucky enough to earn a place on the final leg from Cardiff back up the river Thames into London. Little did I know how special it would be, as a part of the crew to sail through the open Tower Bridge, London brought to a stop waiting for the Lord Nelson.
Having stayed the last night in Cardiff I was ready to board the ship and get going, waiting by the side of the harbour with cadets and veterans alike. Then everything happened hard and fast, we split down to our watches. Aft Starboard was mine, we were told our bunk spaces, our oil skins, harnesses, waist-belts and wellies. After this we were straight into induction and safety briefs. An information overload but all out of the way.
Throughout the voyage any of the crew could climb the masts during the day, however we had to qualify for technique and safety. Having watched everyone go on up I found that I was last, and fearful of heights started the climb, I failed to reach the top and started the journey down. Something to overcome, I thought. After dinner in the galley, our watch leader explained how life at sea would work. However, our first night was in harbour so our job was to ensure the security of the ship, making sure no one, or anything for that matter, tried to board, after having trouble with a cat the previous night.
Bright and early the next morning we were woken with the sound of the tannoy bell and a harsh voice behind it. We set sail and then we were off out of Cardiff towards Land’s End. Unfortunately, due to the winds we were forced to motor down against the sea resulting in the Lord Nelson corkscrewing in the water. This was the time I discovered that I suffer from sea sickness. Nonetheless, it was beautiful weather with brand new people and a chance to develop away from technology and outside of my comfort zone.
Over the next three days we set into a routine of completing our watches, seamanship lessons, and sleep. Happy hour, when the whole crew cleans the ship was a regular occurrence after breakfast, everyone working together towards a common goal. Learning the masts, sails and the lines was tricky but as a watch and crew between us it is something we completed.
Soon enough we were coming into Dartmouth, and I spent most of my time waving to those on the shore. Harboured at the Royal Naval Collage Britannia it was now the opportunity for the assisted climb. Having not made it the first time I got my harness on and had another go. This time Johannes took the time to climb by my side up the rigging. After navigating my way up, we were within touching distance to the platform but a tricky overhand stood between me and the top. Again, with the direction of Johannes and Beth, and a bosun’s mate already up the foremast, I managed the climb overcoming a challenge I thought impossible. The feeling of looking out to Portsmouth was unbeatable.
The next morning, we set off again towards the island of St. Anne’s, this time under sail, a smooth run and back into routine. Our final leg was towards London. The weather was against us – visibility was down and the knowledge about buoys, the lights on the masts of ships and our observational skills were tested to the limit as we passed through the Dover Straights and up into the mouth of the River Thames.
Having passed through Tower Bridge and back, each time standing fast and taking the salute from the watch keeper on the Bridge, we docked at HMS President and marched down to the Tower for the final parade in commemoration of the First World War with Lord Dannatt making the key address.
Looking back at the 10 days I realise now how it has altered me and consolidated my mind set, how it has let me overcome personal fears and make lifelong friends. Seeing both the physical and mental effects of conflict and war and those affected defeats anything holding them back. A life-changing experience in several respects. Thank you for the support and interest in what I have done; without it this experience would have been unachievable.
For the past seven months I have been living and ‘interning’ in St. Aldates Church Oxford. I also enjoy a really great community here living with 11 other interns and learning how to live away from home. It has been an enriching experience both for the community I have been serving and for me personally. Day to day, I am involved in the activities of the Church and mainly supporting the Children’s work. This includes running a Mums & Tots group on a Wednesday as well as leading Sunday school, which is thriving at 160 kids each week.
I have also been challenged and stretched in the teaching program, it has challenged me to think deeper about the Christian faith I hold, the theology behind it and the outworking of ‘Christ’ in my everyday life. One of the particularly memorable experiences of this year was participating in the Alpha Course; it was a great time to allow people in a non-threatening environment to be able to ask questions about faith and Christianity. I would recommend the course to all people who would like to explore the Christian faith at a deep level – many run in Bury St. Edmunds and elsewhere.
I have just returned from a two week placement abroad which included working in a drug rehabilitation project in Madrid. I was so inspired by the work of ‘Betel International’, and how they bring people out of poverty and into a new life – drug free. It was amazing to come alongside those who are going through the programme and see ‘faith in action’. It was great to take part in giving to the project, but really it ultimately gave back to me. Those going through the programme are some of the most generous people I have ever met, both in love and friendship. Especially when we all caught a nasty vomiting bug – they helped the centre to feel like a ‘home from home’. It was a real challenge for me to be more generous in all aspects of my own life. It gave me an insight into a world that is both challenging and important to support.
Looking forward to the last three months of the internship, I am most looking forward to organising “The Big Build” – a holiday club for children aged 5-10, which includes working alongside our partner church, St. Mary’s Barton. Barton is one of the most deprived areas in the UK just next to one of the most affluent University towns. I hope that as a team we can provide a really fun and enriching time for the children in the area.
I have really enjoyed my year, I have matured and grown in ways I never expected but I have also come to a fuller understanding of what my faith means to me. I want to thank the Old Burians for their support this year – I was truly blessed by you and your gift to me.
In the summer of 2016 I successfully auditioned to be a performer for a semi-professional theatre company, Temper Theatre, that sought to devise a movement/dance piece about climate change; the severity of the show’s issue alone greatly developed me as a conscientious theatre maker and a young man who will be a member of the first generation to witness the effects of climate change and the last to do something about it.
Temper provided me with an opportunity to experience what theatre making is like in a professional environment, as well as touring the show to Cambridge, London and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for a sixteen show run. While in Edinburgh, flyering on the Royal Mile was essential in order to advertise ourselves successfully and enable us to attract multiple reviewers (who were generally positive about our piece, ‘Terra Incognita’). I was also able to see many other different shows that were at the largest arts festival in the world which has expanded my creativity and theatrical capabilities. Everything I learnt has aided my progress towards becoming a professional theatre practitioner and performer.
Without the Old Burians’ Charitable Trust Award and the support from the committee, I would not have been able to pursue this opportunity; I will always be grateful for their contribution to the beginning of my training which has enabled me to plan for a sustainable career in the arts.
Before he left, Ciaran said: “I am thoroughly grateful for the support of the Old Burians and their generosity. The fantastic provision for this adventure has been a miracle and I am truly blessed. The Old Burians’ assistance will help pay for vaccinations, trip equipment and general costs.” On his return, he sent us the following report:
Youth With A Mission is a non-profit Christian charity currently working in more than 1,100 locations in over 180 countries. Their aim is to teach and equip young people to ‘know God and make him known’ and in doing so bring freedom and hope to a world in need. This is seen in a wealth of ways including practical humanitarian work, medical aid, community volunteering, orphan care, teaching English to the uneducated, and the list goes on. I decided to commit to a 6-month trip organised by a base in Hawaii, Honolulu. Consequently, I was complimented rather frequently on my great sacrificial servitude to endure the hot tropical beaches Hawaii has to offer! In fact, with a smirk upon his face, dear John Ottley specified the donation from the Old Burians’ Association was only for the following three months of outreach work in Cambodia and Japan.
However, the learning started before the trip in the task of accumulating the £5,000 to fund the 6 months. Being a Christian, I had grown up on stories of God’s financial provision for his children and I was truly reliant on this to get me to Hawaii. The first £3,000 came while working at Tesco. Only another £2,000 to collect in 6 months… I wouldn’t recommend this in every situation of life, but for this purpose, I strongly felt urged not to ask for a single penny at all, either through donations or fundraising, but completely trust God. A few weeks after this decision, and prayer, I bumped into John at the A- level results day. He suggested applying for Old Burians’ funding to support my trip. Further generous donations followed from people who wished to support my venture – a true testament to God’s faithfulness.
Hawaii lives up to the tropical paradise you imagine, however, when you start looking below the surface it still has the same problems as everywhere else. Every Tuesday we had the privilege of going to China Town in Waikiki. We would simply chat to the homeless people of which Honolulu probably has more than beaches. In fact Hawaii has the highest homeless population per capita in the USA. This wasn’t the heroic salvation of 3rd world Orphans I often imagined would happen, but it helped the rejected and marginalised in our own culture on our own doorstep. It was amazing and humbling to be friends with them although it was always painful as we couldn’t fix their problems. The night would often end with our arms around someone crying. However the small help we offered spoke masses to them: that they are loved. This trip was filled with many highs and lows but one of my most enjoyable memories of Hawaii was hiking up the valley at midnight and swimming in a waterfall under the full moon. The stars in Hawaii are AMAZING due to the lack of clouds and light pollution. This was experienced on our last week with nine other friends from five different nations – I was the only Englishman on the trip.
It took us a week of travelling to get us to our destination, Cambodia, which felt very orange and sweaty. Our first location was an hour outside Battambong. The countryside was vast, flat land with random houses along the dust roads which occasionally clustered into villages of hand-built wooden and tin houses. We were dropped off here with one translator for 13. There was no running water but there were a couple of hours of electricity in the evening. Thank goodness, too, because it was 40-48 degrees all week and so humid! We needed those fans. We were awoken at 5:30 by the Buddhist chants and the cockerels to a massive glowing hazy red/orange/pink sphere rising up the pale sky. Watching this, while standing in a field, pouring cool water from a giant pot over your back with nothing but a sarong around your waist and cows in front with palm trees behind and life-long friends at your side is a rather unique thing. That peace didn’t last long however as you’re dripping with sweat in five minutes and having to entertain 20 hyped kids!
The most bizarre memory was fishing. The water holes were running low revealing thick grey squelchy mud. Somehow fish mate in this and it was our task to wade through the mud and snatch the fish with our hands! There are so many stories I could tell not least Khmer new year which is a nation wide water fight. We spent two months in Cambodia over four locations and our main work was providing company for hospital patients. Emotional recovery is often overlooked in Cambodia. This was followed by three weeks in Japan teaching Christianity in a high schools’ religious education classes. I learnt so much on this trip, but to finish, a recurring thought which helped me during the hard times away was this quote by Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose”.
What an adventure. South Africa has 3.7 million orphans, many as a result of AIDS. I served at LIV Village, a self-sustainable community built near Durban by the local church to care for orphaned children and vulnerable women. The village currently has 40 mothers who care for 160 adopted children. The vision is to care for 1,000 and the organisation plans to build similar villages across South Africa to combat this heart-breaking humanitarian problem. First arriving at LIV though, I was acutely unaware of what was truly in store for me. I simply knew that Jesus had sent me and I was up for an adventure with Him!
My well-meaning but naïve intentions of ‘going to help the children in Africa’ quickly vanished as I realised that I learned far more than I could have given. I wept one evening after hearing a village mum tell her story and that of her adopted children. The sadness quickly passed though as I stared up at the 60-foot cross at the centre of the village and saw instead a story of redemption as they now have a hope for the future by the love of God. We served in LIV’s agriculture, textiles factory and construction, as well as the school, sports and youth discipleship programmes. Spending time with the children playing games amongst the houses and in the common rooms and learning Zulu with the village mums were precious times.
I feel privileged to have been able to spend six months learning from these children, their mothers, and LIV’s ever-serving staff team. LIV stands true to its motto: ‘Rescue a child. Restore a life. Raise a leader. Release as a star.’ I am truly thankful for how the Old Burians’ Association generously supported me in a life-changing adventure, as I too have been rescued, restored, raised and released.
“[Last August] I embarked on my journey to Austria where I spent 6 days competing in and watching debates. Topics ranged from lifting the EU arms embargo on China, to inheritance tax, to homeopathic medicine. We also had some time to go sightseeing and attend social events, including a visit to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the oldest theme park in Europe.
At the end of the competition, my team-mate Jennie and I came 27th out of 230 teams at the competition. She ranked as the 10th best speaker overall. I am incredibly grateful towards the Old Burians’ Association who helped me raise the money needed to pay for registration and flights to this competition.
It was great fun and an interesting week which developed my debating skills even further.”
In the summer of 2014 I travelled to the city of Trivandrum in India’s southern state of Kerala. The state capital is flanked on its western jagged shoreline by the Arabian Sea and bordered on all other sides by rice paddies, tea plantations and tropical forests. The city itself is best pictured as a mad flow of people, tuktuks, mopeds and boats, heaving their way through a tangle of streets and canals, accompanied by the lingering smell of local spices and the similarly persistent sound of car horns. The purpose of my visit was to spend some time in some of Trivandrum’s hospitals and clinics in order to help myself make decisions about university choices. After my two weeks’ work experience I planned to spend a week volunteering at a local orphanage, and with any spare time I hoped to explore Kerala.
I spent most of my time at a private hospital a few miles, or if you travel like I did, in an ancient Hindustan Ambassador, a few hours from Trivandrum. At this hospital, which was far larger, far grander and just as clean as most UK hospitals, I sat in on clinics and spent time with doctors, circulating through the specialisations day by day.
This gave me the opportunity to see far more and ask more questions than I could in an NHS hospital. Perhaps the highlight of my time in the hospital was seeing the progress of a man who had received plastic surgery to replace the skin on his hand. During my stay I also visited several local clinics, including a private general practice; an overcrowded and understaffed, state-run rural surgery; a volunteer-based leprosy clinic and a school for children with HIV. It was in these clinics that I was able to witness the unfortunate difference between the healthcare of western nations and that of a developing country. The state of the small, rural clinics was the biggest culture shock of my visit.
My final week in India was spent teaching English and entertaining pupils at a school for orphans and underprivileged children. As well as being great fun, the time at the school spent organising and teaching taught me skills for life and hopefully benefited the children as well.
My time in India allowed me to experience hospital life and spend time with medical, nursing and biological sciences students in a way I couldn’t in England. This was valuable in helping me make important university decisions. I was able to experience India’s unique culture in a way most tourists can only dream of. I feel it was a hugely character-building experience and one that will remain important to me for the rest of my life. I would like to thank the Old Burians’ Association for making the trip a reality.
“With an ambition to pursue a career in medicine, I spent my first year in the Sixth Form trying to gain as much work experience, knowledge and awareness of the medical field as possible, in preparation for university applications. However, I also am an avid traveller, with a particular interest in later studying tropical medicine, so I jumped at the chance to embark upon a medical placement in Tanzania. With a company called Gap Medics, I was lucky enough to spend two weeks shadowing the doctors in St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Hospital in Kilimanjaro.
My first week was spent in internal medicine, a ward devoted to the treatment of typical diseases that are prominent in East Africa. HIV, malaria and tuberculosis were surprisingly in the minority, and I learned a lot about the threat of development and Westernisation in the rising numbers of diabetes sufferers. The most important point my teacher made was about communication with the patient; the concept of explaining the next steps and responsibilities they will have to taking pills, reducing risk factors in order to treat their illness before mentioning its name. Such notorious diseases as HIV evoke fear and shock in the patient that turns their life upside down, so it is ultimately the responsibility of the doctor to serve as a reassuring figure to guide them forwards, and offer hope in this time of vulnerability. Not only is this the foundation of my ambition in medicine, it is a message I will carry with me throughout the entirety of my career.
During week two I was assigned to general surgery. In this one week, I had the opportunity to observe a thyroidectomy, appendectomy, three caesarean sections, a breast tumour excision and the fitting of a nasal gastric tube. The length of surgery, after-care and commitment of the doctors was invaluable to my experience (alongside testing my stomach for the reality of operations!).
I would like to offer my sincere gratitude to the Old Burians for helping me to make the most of this incredible opportunity, without which it may not have been possible. I still look back at this opportunity in awe, and am full of stories, and friendships from my time in Tanzania, that will stay with me forever.”
I’m not really a traveller. Before this Christmas I had never left Western Europe. I knew that when I was selected by Durham University to judge at the World Universities Debating Championships in Chennai, India, I was to expect something I’d never experienced before. Getting to India (with financial support from the Old Burians) was an ordeal in itself but, after a journey including a twelve hour wait in Saudi Arabia, we finally landed in Chennai. I knew India would be completely different to anything I’d seen before, but I didn’t really know what to expect. Initially, everything seemed different and scary – I don’t think I’ll ever forget my first experience of Indian roads, spending forty minutes in the front of a mini-bus desperately wishing the driver would slow down, or at least stay on his side of the road. But when you spend time in a place, you very quickly adapt and before long we were using tuktuks to get everywhere (once you get over the fact that you’re travelling incredibly fast, often weaving between massive trucks, with the leather roof as your only protection, the thrill of a tuktuk ride becomes too much to resist).
Mostly, we were able to get by because we had people to guide us. The World Championship is different to all other debating competitions because people from all over the world come together with a common interest, so friendships are easy to make. This meant that when we travelled up to Delhi after the competition, for a combination of sightseeing and to put on debating workshops in local colleges, we already had new friends in the city to meet. We saw much more of Delhi then we would have alone. Being shown round Old Delhi by someone who spends much of his time there, gave us a much fuller experience than we’d otherwise have had (and we learnt the places to get the very best Indian food). Friendships were also made between members of the UK debating circuit, with teams supporting each other even when in direct competition. It is a delight that I can come back from India knowing a community of people across the UK.
The reason for the trip, of course, was to debate. I had been selected to represent Durham University as a judge at the World Universities Debating Competition, and that’s what I spent a large amount of my time doing. Judging alongside some of the best judges in the world – sitting on judging panels chaired by former Worlds and Euros finalists – was inspiring and incredibly useful. I learnt so much about debating over the ten days, and was encouraged when my views were echoed by judges far more experienced than I. As always, debating gives me confidence in everyday life and gives me the tools to think quickly and express exactly what I mean (when you’re being pressured for a decent rationale for the judgement you came to, you learn to articulate your thoughts very quickly).
My experience of India was two-fold. I was simultaneously in a brand new culture, initially very alien to me, much further from home than I’d ever been before; at the same time, I was taking part in something very familiar to me which I have loved doing for years – my interest kindled at King Edward VI School. This opportunity, supported by the Old Burians, gave me the best of both of these aspects. I could engage in the very best debating in the world and spend almost three weeks experiencing a brand new culture which I grew to love.
Being in a new environment is always an interesting experience. Going to one of the most well known schools in our country was no different. My time at Eton taught me a variety of new ways of approaching music and how to achieve my full potential every time I sing. The course taught me how to make the most of opportunities I would not see very often, such as small ensemble work in trios, and close harmony barbershop-style singing. The most important aspect of the course for me did not involve learning how to become a better musician directly, but how to be aware when I am making slight mistakes and how I could alter passages of music to make them mean something to my audience. Because of this course I have improved my musicality in every aspect, and I have come home as a more confident singer. Lastly, I cannot show enough appreciation for the Old Burians, especially John Ottley for helping me raise the funds needed to take part in this course. Thank you. (Sam was subsequently awarded a Choral Scholarship at Norwich Cathedral for 2014-15)
I applied to the Old Burians after gaining a place on the Eton College University Summer School. The competitive course was a chance for me to experience what it would be like to study English at an elevated level, as a taster for university. The £200 contribution from the Old Burians’ Charitable Trust allowed me to participate on the ten day course and relish in the great opportunity I had been given. During the Summer School I was taught by experts in the field of literature on a range of texts from Chaucer to Shakespeare. The course was extremely challenging academically and I was able to gain insight into what it would be like to study English Literature at a top university. The Summer School was an incredible experience but came with a heavy and rigorous workload which pushed me intellectually. However, there were social aspects as well, with my highlight being a trip to the Globe Theatre to see ‘The Tempest’ together with a workshop by members of the cast. Alongside the lessons in English I was also able to perform in an adaptation of ‘Hamlet’, which we performed formally at the end of the week. The Summer School aided my application to university as well as broadening my knowledge of English Literature. The experience of living as an ‘Etonian’ for a week is something I will never forget and I would like to thank the Old Burians for the money I was given which made it possible.
This time last year I was about to embark upon a ten week volunteer placement with sustainable development charity Raleigh International, as part of the government funded International Citizen Service. This unique opportunity allows young people aged 18-25 to work alongside local volunteers and NGOs to deliver a sustainable project to improve the livelihoods of a rural community living in poverty, all the while developing skills for their future and becoming agents of positive social change.I was based in the village of Halsur, which is in the south Indian state of Karnataka, to deliver a health and sanitation project. My team was formed of seven British volunteers (including myself), four host country volunteers, and a Team Leader from each country.
Together we delivered numerous health awareness sessions, three health camps and helped construct twenty toilets. Prior to the project, the villagers had little or no access to such facilities and an equally limited awareness of health and hygiene so the project was vital to developing their living conditions and implementing positive behavioural change. The emphasis was really on enabling the community to help themselves so that the project had a long term impact, long after we were gone. I developed cultural awareness, project management and leadership skills and the experience has really opened my eyes to the world and made me realise how many people care about it. I would highly recommend the programme to anyone who is looking for an alternative option to university as ICS provides a wonderful opportunity for personal development and learning more about important development issues which you can help raise awareness about upon your return. http://www.volunteerics.org/
After seventeen hours of non-stop travelling I finally arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia, where after a quick snooze in a Hotel (aptly named ‘Smile’) I was transported around the country until I finally arrived at my first destination. Laboundo-boundo is just one of the small villages on the Island of Bau-bau, containing some twenty houses. I was introduced to my ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa’, a couple who lived in the village. The wooden panelled house was balancing on stilts, to avoid the heavy rain that impacts Indonesia in the monsoon season. It had no kitchen or living room, and the toilet (‘Mandi’) was outside – a squat one and a bucket to throw water over yourself as an attempt to shower. How lucky we are with electric lighting, T.V, ovens, fridges and an endless array of consumer goods. Yet, as I began to get to know the students through teaching English at the local School, I found that they were just as happy (or even more so) as we are back here – always smiling and greeting us with inexhaustible enthusiasm.
I began my first week with countless hikes through the rain forest in Lambusago carrying out routine checks of pitfall traps with the Herpetofauna group, behaviour monitoring of macuaques (‘andoke’), trapping civets for data collection, recording bat calls and catching them with mist nets. It was extremely arduous and it was difficult to adjust to the smothering and sticky heat that refused to let your sweat evaporate, let alone to keep up with the dissertation and PhD students that I was helping with these surveys – just part of the large amount of work that Operation Wallacea is putting in to conserve Indonesia’s rain forests, which allows it to be the most bio-diverse country in the world. Its rain forests only cover 1% of the Earth’s surface area but contains 10% of the world’s known plant species, 12% of mammal species – including endangered orang-utans and critically endangered Sumatran tigers and rhinos – and 17% of all known bird species – not including more than half of Indonesia’s species yet to be found.
Throughout the second week I left the village and journeyed four hours deep into rain forest, up a hideously steep and muddy slope (appropriately named ‘death hill’), to arrive at the node camp ‘La Pago’. It contained a tent full of hammocks, lined up like slaves on a boat, a tent for eating and, of course; a squat toilet. However, this time you got to bathe in the cool, clear rivers that flow through the rain forest. Looking up to see a beautiful canopy above you, to hear bird song and to be clean for once, was ten times better than the ‘herbal essence’ adverts.
Unlike many common misconceptions the leeches in Indonesia live only on land and at around two inches they use their front and back end to move around and hunt you down. I found this out the hard way! Whilst collecting termites, for a research project in the entomology section of the London Science Museum, I was ambushed by what seemed to be a continuous flow of attacks from these little suckers. In my naivety I squealed and shook my leg for a while until it finally flew off. I learned it is best to stay calm and just flick it really hard until it comes off: they may be spine-chillingly creepy but they are an important part of the natural eco-system that makes the rain forest what it is.
Apart from catching a Boa constrictor one evening, the ‘Andoke’ project was one of the highlights of my time there. Hiking through the rain forest (where we nearly trod on a king cobra!) with our satellites trying to track down macaques all day and recording their behaviour, taught me some key skills such as data handling and primate behaviour. As soon as we arrived on the Island of Wakatobi from yet another long boat journey, (an Indonesian man sung for the whole six hours!), we were rushed off to our houses and brought to dinner. Not only was the accommodation better but the food was too. We were having fresh barracuda nearly every night, which is sustainably fished from the reef that we were diving. It was delicious! Who would have known that you could make so many dishes with one fish! Diving on the fringing reefs of the coral triangle was one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen. The water was as clear as glass and sparkled florescent orange and blue from the phytoplankton. The reef was bursting with life, from sea crates to giant lion fish suspended as if flying upon the reef. Although, not everything was as serene as it seemed – we had to wake up at 6am, have three lectures, three dives, and an exam on corals or vertebrates every day (except ‘De-gas day’ the Indonesian Sunday, when we would play rounders or go for walks around the island) – for the majority of the time I was assisting dissertation students with their projects which was very rewarding as I was able to learn in depth about the diversity of fiddler crabs, the communication of anemone fish, how to complete a reef survey, diversity of the mangroves and much, much more.
Not only is Indonesia a beautiful and culturally rich country, it has also provided me with further knowledge from that which I acquired during my Extended Project last year. I have had a terrific experience and made some amazing friends, none of which would have been possible without the support of the Old Burians and I cannot thank you enough for your help and generosity.