Alice Dee, St Aidan’s Alumni Secretary

St Aidan’s College, Windmill Hill
Durham, DH1 3LJ

(0191) 334 5769
newsletter@aidans-alumni.org.uk
www.aidans-alumni.org.uk

St Aidan’s

Alumni Magazine & Newsletter

January 2016

Welcome
Issue 5, Dec 2015

Welcome to Issue 5 of the Aidan’s
Alumni Association Newsletter
which is, once again, a double
issue, covering the past two years
since the last newsletter was published. The previous newsletter
editor, Jan Collinge, was the only
member left of a rapidly diminished committee and demands
on her time meant that she was
no longer able to commit to
the cause, after a long and hard
working period of office. 

Hence, I find myself
writing this editorial!  My lack
of experience has led to the style
and format being virtually identical to the last one.  However, our
aim from this point is to revert
back to an annual publication
and we are more than happy to
present you with a newsletter
that fits what its readers would
like, so please drown us in your
feedback and help us to achieve
this.  

This issue contains all
the old favourites, with some
new features including an SCR
President’s Report, a Sports
and Societies update and some
entertaining reminiscences from
past students. In addition, we
have overviews of the recent
Association AGM and Graduates’
Weekend, along with progress
reports on the archive and future
reunions.  

I sincerely hope that
you see the reinvigoration of the
Association Committee and the
plan for a phenomenal reunion
in 2017 as the perfect excuse
to re-engage and become more
involved in what the association
has to offer.  Where St Aidan’s
College is King of the Hill, I’d like
us to be the King of all Alumni
Associations!
Emma Fisher (nee Barley)
Newsletter Officer
newsletter@aidans-alumni.org.uk

News From College
St Aidan’s College in 2013 – 2015
The Principal’s review of the past two years in College

1

From the JCR Presidents 4
The JCR Presidents’ review of their years in College

From the SCR President 11
The SCR President’s review of the year in College

From the Sports Officer
Heather Mitchell reviews the sporting year 2014/2015

13

From the Boat Club Captain 15
Alexander Sansom reviews the Boat Club year 2014 – 2015

Societies Update 17
Alice Dee brings us up to date on the JCR’s thriving Society scene

Features

Life After Durham 18
Stories from Margaret Matthews, Julia Newton, Jacqui Suttie, Jacquetta
Gomes and Rohini Aggarwal

Travel Reports 22
Write-ups from students in receipt of a travel grant

Conference Reports 52
Students who received small grants to visit conferences report back

News From Members

News In Brief 58
News and updates from St Aidan’s Alumni members

News from St Aidan’s Alumni

A New Dawn 59
Ben Fisher’s perspective on the recent Aidan’s Alumni Association AGM

Graduates’ Weekend 2015 60
Hannah Futter’s recount of the recent Graduates Weekend

What’s in Your Attic? 61
Jan Collinge provides us with the latest news on the College archive

The 2017 reunion 62
The Reunion Officers provide us with the latest news on their work

Results and Prizes

Degree Results 63
College Awards and Prizes 63

Cover photo – A college crew in the new ‘Jack Caswell VIII’, partly funded by the Aidan’s Alumni Association. Photo
taken by Lauren Polson.

St Aidan’s College in 2013 - 15

centuries, despite the plea of ‘Never Again’. In the ceremony to
honour the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in January,  the
outgoing Dean of Durham Cathedral whose mother is Jewish
gave a moving address; the student co-founder and president
of the Aidan’s LGBTQIA society then read an address which
reminds us that the recognition of Nazi persecution of LGB
people and their post-war oppression has only recently been
properly invoked and commemorated, and the President and
Secretary of JSoc read the prayer for the dead in Hebrew and
English respectively. Sylvia Hurst, who lives in the region, was
accompanied by the Mayor and Mayoress of Durham and she
spoke compellingly of her experience of the KinderTransport
before lighting a candle of remembrance.  The dual message of
commemoration and actively combating prejudice will form the
heart of an education programme featuring the sculpture.

We are also proud to be the host College for the
recently founded Centre for Jewish Studies. The Centre will be
formally launched in October with a workshop, but has already
sponsored two well attended lectures. Sadly, Robert Hayward
(Theology), a great supporter of Jewish Studies, retired in June
but happily he has agreed to continue to work with us. We
congratulate Robert on a distinguished career and an enviable
reputation as an inspiring, warmly appreciated and highly
respected teacher and colleague. Congratulations also to JSoc
for winning ‘Chaplaincy Developing JSoc of the Year’ at the UJS
Annual Awards, which they celebrated with a special event in
the Lindisfarne Centre towards the end of the Easter term.
 Commemoration raises difficult questions about restitution
and restorative justice, renewed by the recent discoveries of
new hoards of artworks expropriated from their Jewish owners.
On May 20th,    Margot Van Sluytman gave an extraordinarily
moving talk on Restorative Justice, followed by an inspirational
therapeutic writing workshop, to practitioners, staff, students
and other members of our regional communities, in the Lindisfarne Centre.

Social Justice more broadly requires that we address
economic inequality, whether we seek to broaden access to the
University or imagine pathways to a fairer society. Our Enterprise Forum returns in September with its focus on smes,
cooperative and social enterprise models at a time when the
embedding of an entrepreneurial spirit in University curricula
coincides with some inspiring examples of the transformation
and empowerment through such models of impoverished and
marginalised communities around the world.  So we were
delighted to host a British Council delegation from Palestine on
November 25th for a conversation about enterprise and social
responsibility in a University setting, with the participation of
the Dean for Enterprise, the student Enterprise society, current
Aidan’s students, our Enterprise Fellow, Dinah Bennett, and
Keith Herman, convenor of careersalliance.com. College catering rose to the occasion with a halal lunch which the delegates
said was by far the best they had enjoyed in their UK tour.  

It was an exciting and poignant year for Durham
Pride, too, which in its second year pulled off a magnificent
Parade from Palace Green to Millenium Square, on May 31st.  
A number of Pre-Pride events were held across Durham, and
in Aidan’s we were delighted to host, from Barcelona, the two
protagonists of Ventura Pons’ acclaimed documentary ‘Ignasi
M.’, thanks to funding from the Colleges Research & Scholarly
Activities Fund. This was the final event in a hugely successful
Pride Lecture Series, beginning with an overflowing public for
Trans activist Buck Angel.

Susan Frenk, our Principal, on the two years in College

2013-14
The Arts were in the ascendant this year with our IAS poet in
residence, Linda France, joined one evening by Don Paterson,
with donations to one of our regional partners, Albert Kennedy
Trust- Outpost. In Epiphany, narrative moved to the foreground
with the launch of our writing fellow, Fadia Faqir’s, Willow trees
don’t weep – the public drawing out the formal and political
challenges confronted this female odyssey, criss-crossing East
and West.

Ambitious theatre projects included the director of
Thrust Stage’s all female Henry V and the foundation of the
cutting edge Catharsis theatre company.

Finally, the extraordinary gift of a Fenwick Lawson
circle cross, donated by the original commissioner, Durham
City Arts, whose imaginative work in the local community was
tragically truncated by national funding cuts.

Aidan’s history of promoting dialogue, aided by JSoc’s
embedded presence, was enhanced by hosting the first Islamic
chaplain for the University, Mrs. Mahshid Turner. Mahshid has
also co-founded a Muslim-Jewish Forum with Chad’s, bringing
people together around key issues, while somehow sustaining
her doctoral research.

Our goals of inclusive and regionally interlinked community edged closer as we hosted the Steering Group for the
first ever Durham Pride (June 5th). Brainchild of Jamie Lawson
(Anthropology) and Mel Metcalf (Derwentside Domestic Abuse
Service), it attracted over two thousand participants, the Dean
for Diversity & Equality amongst the speakers in Milennium
Place. Just weeks later, with Sarah Winship (University D&E Officer), she co-hosted a national Athena Swan event here. Classic
summer weather produced an exquisitely timed rainbow……
….which reappeared in interdisciplinary conferences we sponsored. Literary Dolls: The Female Textual Body; Bodies, Viking
Society’s Annual Student Conference; US Imperialism and
National Identity; LGBT lives (Sociological Review Symposium)
and the CSGS Summer School, with two outstanding keynote
speakers from Northwestern University. 2013 Jewish Studies
Fellow, Rabbi Danny Rich, published his book and Afterwork
experimented with formats, the speed thinking evening organised by Ben Warwick (Law) and well supported by his GLAD
colleagues really sparkled - and sparked some unexpected
collaborations.
2014-2015
Looking back over this busy, sometimes challenging year, the
scale of activities and the creative efforts of staff and students
that sustain the College community emerge in stark relief.  So
this report is a timely opportunity to thank everyone for their
engagement and enthusiasm. Some of the experiences we have
shared have been sombre; others playful or celebratory, but
our complex, collaborative relationships infuse them all with
meaning and humanity.   These themes ran through the Collegiate Way Conference [www.dur.ac.uk/collegiateway2014/] in

November for which Aidan’s hosted delegates from Singapore,
New York University Abu Dhabi, Galway, Queensland and
Virginia, culminating in one of our famous themed Formals. In
a packed Dining Hall, decorated as usual in dazzling form by
the JCR Formals Committee and artistically inclined helpers,
the visitors were inveigled into awarding prizes for the most ingenious outfits. Ultimately, however, all were impressed as much
by the collegiate environment in its daily routines as by this
kind of large scale social event. The links forged have continued by email and led to recent visits from New Zealand and by
others working to build collegiate Universities who were unable
to attend the conference itself.

Outward facing community engagement is another key
element of the Colleges’ role in the University, our regional and
international links, so we were grateful for funding from the
Colleges Research & Scholarly Activities Fund to bring Open
Clasp back to the Durham campus, in collaboration with Ustinov and Josephine Butler.

An Open Clasp Theatre Company production
in collaboration with Frantic Assembly

Created through work with 162 young women from
the North East and Liverpool, the play highlighted some of
the key issues young women of diverse orientations are experiencing and negotiating today. [Visit Open Clasp’s website for
further information]. 
 
2014-15 marked both the centenary of the outbreak of
the ‘Great’ War and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the
Nazi concentration camps. Durham City has a special relationship with Bergen-Belsen because the Durham Light Infantry
played a core role in its liberation, so we commemorated this
with a talk by Peter Sagar on anti-fascist activity in the NorthEast of England in the 1930s and a performance piece by John
Sadler of Time Bandits. [http//www.timebandits.org.uk]. Our
sculpture by local artist Neil Molloy commemorating the Holocaust and all subsequent Genocides and forced migrations, was
dedicated in October 2014. At its centre is a suitcase engraved
with the name of Zdenka Fantlova, who was herself rescued
from Belsen-Bergen as a child. The intentions of the sculptor
were to evoke not only the Holocaust, but also the subsequent
genocides and waves of forced migration that have tragically
characterised both the twentieth and the early twenty-first

News from College

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News from College

The CSGS continues to flourish, with two postgraduate bursary holders co-organising the Afterwork sessions. We
opened with a talking tour of his Books for Boys Exhibition by
Simon James in the wonderful Palace Green Exhibition space
[www. durham.ac.uk.csgs/events] and ranged across workshops,
text focused discussions, presentations of postgraduate research
and a practitioner seminar on hate crime in the region. The annual Summer School enjoyed buoyant attendance and featured
Elizabeth Ettore, Ken Plummer and Ron Weitzer as keynote
speakers who enjoyed their brief stay in College.

We enjoyed longer visits from Dr. Nancy Parreno and
Dr. Ines Danao from the Philippines in the Michaelmas term
for the IHRR,  and in the Easter term, as a visiting Co-Fund
Senior Research Fellow, Prof. Mary Brydon-Miller, the keynote
speaker at the launch of the Centre for Social Justice Participatory Research Hub. All are involved in inspirational work helping to rebuild communities that have been damaged by forces
beyond their control, who often display remarkable resilience.

For some, faith is a factor in community resilience and
the exchange of experiences and forging of friendships between
people of different faiths, secular and humanist is certainly
crucial to combating increasing cultural polarisation and often
questionable media representation. The Interfaith Forum tackled both this year and included a particularly creative addition
in its Green Walk and Litter Pick on June 9th, starting from
Reception at 10.30am and returning to College for lunch.

The daily rhythms of community underpin College but
the large scale shared social events are eagerly anticipated. Not
everyone is aware of the meticulous organisation that makes
them so successful, but we look back on an array of stunning
Formals, the intimate termly Jazz, Rock evenings in the JCR,
a Summer Festival in May which drew a chilled crowd of both

From the JCR President

current students and alumni, and a magnificent Summer Ball in June, themed around the oceans and the cultures that they connect.

Music and all the Performing Arts have flourished both inside and outside College, with stunning and ambitious productions by ACT (Aidan’s College Theatre), including a hugely well attended Taming of the Shrew. Aidan’s instrumentalists and singers
were again a big presence in the Hill Orchestra, DUOS and the Choral Society, while Oliver Zeffman  (finalist, Mod European Languages and History) conducted the chamber orchestra and Sir Thomas Allen in the cathedral in a new commission by John Casken,
as part of a stunning programme for DUOS’ 50th anniversary.  .

The SCR-MCR ran another successful series highlighting the fascinating range of research projects of our postgraduates as
well as hosting the Hill Colleges West Postgraduate Research Forum this year. Inspired by the dazzling events run by the JCR, they
became increasingly adventurous themselves, culminating in a Murder Mystery night with a Cluedo theme. Some of the diners in
the Lindisfarne Centre suddenly became actors in a historic drama, with prizes not just for the table with the best costumes but also
for the one that correctly guessed the identity of the assassin, giving the reasoning behind it.  A series of increasingly arcane detective scenarios ensued, revealing the analytical skills and preferred genre models of both the SCR members and the guest JCR table.

The range of activities fostered by the JCR and SCR-MCR, the work not only of the Execs but of the diverse JCR committees and societies is extraordinary and too extensive to give it full justice here. However, this also fosters a broader culture of
participation and community building, which can be illustrated by two brief examples.

Amy Campo McEvoy (second year, Combined Social Studies with Year Abroad) volunteers weekly under the Student
Community Action umbrella and also champions SCA in College. Yet she also found time to organise an innovative programme
to foster greater integration of our international students, UG and PG, and provide targeted encouragement for them to take up
volunteering opportunities. She launched this at a highly successful International Evening in the JCR in the Epiphany term, from
which weekly language exchange/buddy gatherings over tea and cakes followed to the end of the year. Engagement has been steady
and feedback extremely positive, so Amy has handed on the baton for the scheme to be sustained and developed while she is
abroad next year.

Henry Acres (finalist, Criminology)was volunteering as a PSV (Police Support Volunteer), co-ordinating the Community
Speed Watch programme, when he developed an idea to foster positive relationships between students, police and the wider community. As he liaised with College Officers, the JCR Exec, the Police and key University staff, a wider initiative was conceived which
was formally incorporated into the JCR community outreach programme, with a range of events and volunteering opportunities.
This has produced SNW (Student Neighbourhood Watch) and Crisis Management Teams, led by a student representative in each
College. Henry hopes that in addition to the opportunities for personal development and useful experience for future employment,
this will above all improve student safety and wellbeing while improving relationships throughout the community across Durham.
We hope this will include a specific contribution around LGBTQ understanding and relationship building.

As we sadly say farewell to another cohort of graduates and prepare for the Winter congregations for current Masters
and PhD students, the Alumni Association is set to re-launch, following the retirement after very long, dedicated,  service of the
existing committee. The formal constitution of the new committee will take place at an AGM this November in College during the
Lumiere Weekend, which is also the date when recent graduates return to College each year for a mini reunion.

Finally, we mourned the loss of those who will not return to us. Saagar Naresh [third year, MLAC] was honoured in a
packed Memorial Service in January, in which some of his many friends spoke and sang eloquently. The Boat Club held a naming
ceremony for their new (second hand) boat, the Jack Caswell, in May, in the anniversary year of his untimely death at the age of 23.
We also lost a cherished colleague, Joe Cassidy, Principal of St. Chad’s, an eloquent advocate for the collegiate University and for
social justice.

George Thomas reviews the JCR year 2013 - 2014

This year the JCR has gone from strength to strength, all due to
the enthusiasm of its members and the commitment of those
who volunteer their time to run it. Starting with a permanent
strength of Aidan’s JCR, the social events have been consistently outstanding all year with excellent attendance and even
better feedback for all. Once exams finished we had a packed
schedule but with the attendance of a very enthusiastic Fresher
year all the events had an excellent turnout. The Summer Ball
was impeccably organised and the general consensus was
that it was the best night of the year. The move of Aidan’s Day
seems to have been very successful with attendance up on the
past few years. Special thanks must go to Abi Holmes who
wasn’t content with just organising the Summer Ball but wanted to be involved in every social event and did a phenomenal
job, particularly at enthusing the Social Committee. I would
also like to thank Kate Palmer for her commitment to Formals
this year. As ever, MAD committee have done an outstanding
job filling the college with cultural activities throughout the
year; from ACT’s performance of Bedroom Farce to a Ukulele
Jam. I look forward to seeing this grow in the coming years
with better funding and a stronger organisational structure.

Welfare support this year has been exceptional,
following on from an incredibly impressive tenure of the
current welfare team. Despite exams and other difficulties they
remained strong and many will be grateful for this provision
in such a stressful time. Their “StressLess” activities were well
attended and well organised. The separation of the Campaigns
Committee from Welfare Committee is reaping its rewards
with very successful campaigns throughout the year. Special
thanks must go to Joshua Stocco who has done an exemplary
job in a very demanding Executive role. Alicia Kenshole and
Frankie Humphreys also deserve a mention for their commitment and I am sure they will both be phenomenal Exec
members next academic year.

After a very turbulent period for the shop, we have
finally made steps towards financial stability with our end of
year accounts showing the first profit in a few years. With a
well-organised Jazz, Rock and Cocktails evening and stalls at
all major events, it seems every attempt is being made to keep
the shop the huge asset it should be. Credit is very difficult to
give as this has been a long battle which has involved a huge
number of people but Jake Clayton, Edward Smith and Oliver

SFF October 2015

News from College

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News from College

Rollinson have really driven this in their role as Shop Chair.
The bar has also had a successful year. The events this term
have been well attended and the extra effort put in around
World Cup games really made a difference, unfortunately
England didn’t do well enough for this to really pay off. An exceptional Summer Festival was the talk of the University with
attendees from all different colleges and the local area. The
atmosphere was incredible and I have no doubt the day will
be a lasting memory for many. As well as the Bar’s successes
this year I would really like to thank Anthony for the strong
relationship he has kept with the JCR and with the Executive,
which I believe has been incredibly fruitful for both parties.

It was another successful sporting year for Team
Aidan’s, who came second in the College Festival of Sport.
Many teams have been very successful and are continuing to
flourish and grow. After 5 years of fundraising, the Boat Club
has finally been able to purchase a new 8 with a kind donation
from the Alumni Association and some sponsorship, which
will make a huge impact on the club. After the society reform
earlier in the year we are finally seeing the benefits with more
and more people starting their own societies. This is having a
huge impact on student engagement and the different groups
that we are able to reach in college through student leadership
positions.

After a really successful round of elections, we have
massively improved the diversity of those holding positions.
On the Executive and Sub-Executive alone we have many
minority groups represented and the gender balance is correct
for the first time in many years. With the introduction of
interviews a few years ago, engagement with the JCR has never
been better and attendance to events seems to be continually
improving. Work is still being done to improve international
student engagement and to a lesser extent, liver out engagement. Hopefully, with plans for a bigger international welcome
and the creation of a Communities Officer for outreach work
and a focus on engagement this can be quickly improved.

The JCR finances are in an incredibly strong position
making a profit this year, which can now be spent on long term
improvements for the JCR or Extraordinary Purchases so all
students benefit from the successes. Financial stability has been
a long time coming but hopefully now more time can be spent

From the JCR President
Mark Barratt reviews the JCR year 2014 - 2015

With blatantly obvious bias aside, it is with great pleasure and pride that I am able to report on a fantastically active and progressive
year for St Aidan’s College JCR! Apologies in advance for the unavoidable self-gratification that is bound to follow…

Before I go into detail on what exactly 2014-15 entailed however, I would like to personally thank the outgoing JCR Executive Committee (for full list, see elsewhere in magazine), along with all those who contributed to the running of the JCR this year,
for their hard-work, dedication and innumerable achievements – without you I could not have accomplished anything, and I am
extremely grateful to everyone who made my tenure such a superb and fulfilling experience.
Community Outreach & Volunteering
The biggest change for the JCR this year was the creation of two community outreach schemes, in an attempt to extend the JCR’s
sphere of activity to incorporate volunteering opportunities (needless to say said attempt was successful; else I wouldn’t be mentioning it)! As such, this was the primary focus of mine and the JCR Vice President’s attentions and, with some exceptional hard
work from a number of other students, I can assuredly announce that the JCR is now able to offer two volunteering prospects to
our members; one with international students and another with the local police force.

In order to initiate the former of these projects, our International Students’ Representative (along with the help of the
rest of the JCR Welfare Committee) managed to successfully bid for £250 from an internal University fund and subsequently used
this money to launch the project via an international music event in the JCR and bar, with food from across the globe provided to
persuade potential volunteers to sign up. The scheme, entitled “Café Anglais & Language Exchange”, was then begun the following
weekend, with students from throughout the college engaging in conversations in languages which they wished to practise and
learn, as well as some helping others to hone-down their written and spoken English (in order to improve these linguistic skills for
subsequent degree assignments). Over the rest of the year, these sessions became a successful fortnightly feature, with the provision
of complimentary tea and cake no doubt playing an integral part of this!

The second project launched was done so in conjunction with the police and, after our Police Volunteering Representative
pro tempore established a framework for it, we managed to attract a number of JCR members to participate in many of the constabulary’s locally run community outreach ventures throughout the year. The resulting newfound links with the Durham police
will also hopefully prove useful in providing a convenient two-way communication channel for the future.

And so, with the reform of the Vice President’s Livers’ Out Committee to Community Outreach Committee now fully undergone, it is with great anticipation that I wait to hear about the development of the aforementioned schemes, as well as any new
ones which the future may hold…

Of course, one of the qualities in which Aidan’s can take great pride is its great tradition of community and inclusivity and,
in the spirit of this, it was fantastic to oversee such a dramatic increase in the number of livers out opting to live back in college for
next year. And indeed, the large attendance for both the annual Livers’ Out Meal in college and this year’s summer trip (a revival
of the destination of Flamingo Land) is testament to our recent efforts towards the continued engagement of our large livers out
community.

on student facing improvements rather than trying to reach financial stability. Special mention must go to William Macleod and
Maddie Daniels for the extraordinary effort they have put into improving our financial position.

Overall, I feel this year has been another successful one for the JCR. I would like to thank my entire executive for their
support and hard work and wish them every success next year. I would like to extend my gratitude, and all of my best wishes to
the incoming JCR President, Mark Barratt, who will do an absolutely incredible job. I would also like to thank all of the staff here
at Aidan’s for the endless support they have given me this year. It has been a pleasure and privilege to serve as SACJCR President
and I look forward to visiting in future to see the JCR flourishing.
George Thomas, JCR President 2013 - 2014

JCR EXEC LIST
2013/14

JCR President
George Thomas

Vice-President
Olivia Ryan

JCR Treasurer

Social Chair
Abi Holmes

Bar Steward

Edward Smith

Welfare Officer

Union Rep

JCR Chair

Formals Officer

JCR Secretary

Sports Officer

Elgan Alderman
Katy Gooding

The support offered by the JCR Welfare Team this year has been phenomenally strong; the Welfare Officers have dealt exceptionally well with all matters arising and must, as always, be commended for their work, not least for the indispensible role they play
during Freshers’ Week. Indeed, the team went from strength to strength this year, particularly with the engagement and raising
awareness of minority groups; a series of committee restructures has facilitated the long overdue introduction of representation for mature students and, as well as this, the ratification of an International Society (linked to the aforementioned volunteering scheme) and a LGBTIQ+ Society at Aidan’s has massively increased the awareness, engagement and representation of
these groups within the JCR and the wider student community. The aims of both societies are to offer safe spaces in which their
members may socialise and share experiences, but also to provide a platform whereby the views of these often under-represented
groups can be channelled to both Welfare and the Executive Committee for discussion, debate and action.

Since last year’s creation of a Campaigns Committee, campaigns have been much more creative, dynamic and ultimately, successful, with ideas and themes generated by Welfare Committee and others being transformed into thoughtful, informative
and high-impact campaigns. As well as the annual campaigns on student housing, Pride Week and stress-management, students
throughout the college got behind an extremely emotive campaign on de-stigmatising and raising awareness about mental
health.

Following the tragic and untimely passing this year of one of our students, Saagar Naresh, as a result of his mental
health condition, the campaign was particularly poignant and, though it is with deep sadness that many of us now come to terms
with his loss, as a JCR we will always remember him for his energy, enthusiasm and eccentricity, be it performing with his band
“Lenny & The Mandem” (an Aidan’s institution of the current era) or passionately discussing and debating his passions; cricket,
politics and Dido to name but a few...

Shop Chair

William MacLeod
Josh Stocco

Welfare & Campaigns

Anthony Speight

Ollie Davies

Kate Palmer

Harrison Sands

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News from College

general) are, I’m sure, just a few of the reasons for this year’s
triumph (profits went to Concern Worldwide).

Furthermore, the Charities Donation Fund attracted
plenty of interest from our members this year, with donations
to a variety of causes including VSO, HCPT, Leprosy Outreach,
Advantage Africa and the Toilet Twinning scheme. On a more
solemn note, we also donated to Cancer Research (on behalf of
a recent alumnus whose mother recently passed away) and to
Bipolar UK (on behalf of Saagar Naresh).

Events & Social Activities
Once again, the sheer time and effort that both our Formals
and Social Committees have dedicated this year has not gone
to waste, with high-attendance and popularity upholding our
college’s reputation as one of the best in Durham for social
events. With consistently inventive Formal themes (from ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ to ‘Heroes & Villains’) and the ever- spectacular Halloween ‘Childhood Horrors’ Megaformal, ‘Paradise
Beach’ Informal Ball and ‘The World by Water’ Summer Ball,
our Social Chair and Formals Officer truly set the bar this year
(the uttering of such a sentence alone will no doubt spur on
next year’s committees to even greater achievements)!

The revamped Aidan’s Day also kept its appeal in
its new summer term slot, with highlights including a circus
troupe, a triple set of inflatables and the ever popular ‘Gunge
the Exec’ and, in addition to this, with this year’s two Christmas Formals, two Valentines Formals, three Newcastle Nights
and a bop (ingeniously entitled ‘Mardi Gras in the Bar’), it’s
a wonder Aidanites managed to fit anything else into their
schedules! However, as ever, Aidan’s has finished this year in
healthy competition with our rivals in the fields of sport, academia and the many other extra-curricular opportunities on
which Durham University prides itself, showing that we truly
are a college of all-rounders.

Sports & Societies
Aside from finishing in the upper echelons of the overall
college sport points table, perhaps Aidan’s Sports most notable
achievements this year were from the Men’s Football and
Rugby A-Teams, who both managed to secure places in their
respective Floodlit Cup Finals. Neither team won sadly, however, a charity football match the following week between the
Men’s D & Women’s Football Teams, along with a ‘Sponsored
Erg’ rowing marathon later in the year, managed to raise a
hefty sum for charity!

In terms of inclusivity and participation, the range of
sports and societies now offered at Aidan’s really demonstrates
just how diverse we really are; from surfing to Quidditch, and
from international politics to film-making, I truly believe we as
a college now have something for everyone. Indeed, the stereotypically male-dominated sports of darts and pool have seen
an emergence in female participation, with the introduction of
new (and extremely talented) teams in both games. Similarly,

Governance, Democracy & Union Engagement

Valentine’s Formal, February 2015

Aidanites old and new at the annual Beer Fest

our now well-established Feminist Society has increased in
membership, with their activities consisting of lively fortnightly meetings and the running of an awareness campaign in
Michaelmas term.

Finally, it’s worth noting that this year’s Sports and
Societies Formal saw a change of format in that both ‘Full’
Sporting Colours and ‘Half’ Colours were awarded (in the
form of a pint and half pint Aidan’s-branded glass respectively). The recipient of the Caswell Cup for Commitment and
Dedication to Sport this year was a well-deserving Charlie
Greenwood, who’s made significant contributions to the
Football, Rugby and Pool Clubs during all three of his years at
Aidan’s, taking leadership roles in the former and latter.

year. More established groups, such as the Jazz Band and Choir,
once again enjoyed a new influx of Freshers, whilst new (and
very musically diverse) bands continued to spring up throughout the year. This has almost certainly been due to the myriad
of musical events that have occurred during Michaelmas Term;
ranging from the fortnightly Open Mic & Cock/Mocktail nights
in the bar (including a one-off Comedy Open Mic) to a ‘Classical Music jam’ one Wednesday afternoon, not to mention the
pinnacle of Aidan’s’ creative scene that is the termly ‘Jazz, Rock
& Cocktails’ evenings. A new band night called ‘BAJAM’ also
saw its debut this year and is set to continue under the new
Music Coordinator for the next, so watch this space…

Drama as well has continued to grow over my time at
Aidan’s, with dramatic performances taking place at least once a
term. This year’s annual Pantomime ‘Tinderella’ was the perfect
opportunity to give our newly bought ‘tech’ its first outing and
- risqué jokes and cross-dressing aside - the evening was a fantastic success! Aidan’s College Theatre’s (ACT’s) Epiphany term
play, the ‘Taming of the Shrew’, was performed at the Assembly
Rooms and also saw record numbers of attendees (generating
enough profit to purchase some new costumes and props for
next year’s productions).

As always, this year’s JCR Secretary produced a phenomenal Freshers’ Handbook and a fantastic first JCR publication, appealing to the masses in terms of both recruiting writers
and engaging readers. Said publication (‘Never Say No To
Badger’ as it is affectionately known) has expanded a lot these
past few years, and is now a common forum for many to express
their views, report on events and sporting achievements, and
promote college activities and events. Content this year has really showcased the Aidan’s talent, with pieces ranging from satire
on the General Election, to LGBT rights, and from culinary
advice for future livers out, to cartoon depictions of various
Aidanites (myself included).

Shop, Bar, Gym, & Music Room
Both the shop and college bar have been doing very well this
term. The shop once again finished up in a financially sound
position, with the ever creative/ridiculous toastie names (such
as the General Election-themed ‘Nigel Fromage’ and ‘Cheddar
Miliband’) enticing as many customers as ever! Likewise, the
bar and its events throughout the year have also been getting
the punters in, with the now well-established ‘Top Gun Night’
and ‘Take Me Out’ events a great success. But of course, a year
in Aidan’s Bar wouldn’t be complete without our annual Beer
Fest, which offered the biggest selection of beers we’ve ever had
this summer and attracted large crowds of Aidanites old and
new, with many alumni taking the glorious sunshine as the
perfect opportunity to visit. And, with the bar’s summer refurbishment now complete, I’m sure many of the recent graduates
will by dying to head back for Old Boys (myself included)!

On the topic of refurbishments, it’s been great to
oversee a full replenishment and expansion of the equipment
in the gym over the past three years (including new benches,
a squat rack and a leg press) and, with plans to purchase some
new musical equipment next year, the Music Room has also
undergone a transformation, with our MAD (Music, Art &
Drama) Team redecorating the walls with musical murals and
artwork.

Charity & Donations
In addition to the sporting fundraisers mentioned earlier,
Epiphany Term saw a lot of charitable activity including the
‘Roses & Rolos’ campaign annually run by the DUCK Committee for the Valentine’s Formals, as well as a ‘Charity Single’
premiered at Informal Ball (both ventures donated their
takings to Mind). This year’s Charity Fashion Show was also a
phenomenal success; the external venue of the Slug & Lettuce
and the introduction of a ‘launch party’ event (along with some
fantastic rebranding and relentless advertising of the event in

Performing Arts & Journalism

‘Paradise Beach’ Informal Ball, March 2015

The popularity of performing arts this year has taken off dramatically (if you’ll pardon the pun). MAD Committee is continuing to go from strength to strength, not least because of the
sheer passion and relentless drive of the three coordinators this

News from College

JCR meetings this year have been the scene of some lively
debates including on issues such as: gender as a spectrum as
opposed to a binary; the necessity of paying all University staff
the living wage; committee restructures (to increase efficiency
and representation); animal welfare at our events; and somewhat unfortunately, the negative impacts that the University’s
ever-increasing residence costs are having on students (particularly those from low socio-economic backgrounds being ‘priced
out’). The latter issue in particular generated much concern
within Aidan’s JCR and as such, many of our members attended
a peaceful protest on the Science Site to try and bring the issue
to the forefront of the University management’s agenda. To take
a positive spin on this however, it was really great to see such a
level of student collaboration and activism, that has been somewhat absent in recent years.

In terms of the legitimacy and inclusivity of our own
democratic processes, this year’s Executive Committee elections
well-exemplify the significant progress made over the past couple of years. Out of the 11 positions which sit on the committee,
only 3 were uncontested (indeed there were 6 candidates for
JCR President, 5 for JCR Chair and 3 for both Union Officer
and JCR Secretary) and in terms of candidate diversity, we had
a variety of genders, year groups, and backgrounds (including international students) running for the positions. Since
the changeover of half of our JCR positions to become interview-based (rather than husted for) a couple of years ago, we
have also seen a positive increase in the number and variety of
applicants throughout the many roles.

As well as this, we achieved high voting turnouts for
JCR elections/referenda, were well over quoracy for many of our

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News from College

Some Aidan’s Physics graduates photographed
outside the cathedral, after being awarded
with their MPhys degrees by Chancellor Sir
Tom Allen.

JCR Meetings this year, and our links with the Students’ Union
have never been stronger. Our Union Officer (and incoming
JCR President) Alice Dee put in some invaluable work over the
course of this year in improving students’ engagement with the
Union and its Assembly, and our college turnout for all central
elections/referenda has more often than not been well above
that of all the Durham colleges.

Sabinder Sandhu: For her three years of countless hours spent
working behind (and in front of!) the scenes as a member of
Social Committee, including going above and beyond this year
as Social Chair.

Awards & Congratulations

Mark Barratt: For his widespread contributions to the JCR (as
part of Shop Committee, Livers’ Out Committee & Team Bar,
and as Men’s Hockey & Table Tennis Captain) prior, and in
addition to, his tenure as JCR President.

Of course, a year at University wouldn’t be complete without
saying goodbye to another batch of successfully graduating
Aidanites and this year was by no means any exception. It was
a privilege to be able to participate in the end of year celebrations, including the graduation ceremonies themselves, the
college graduation dinners, the Going Down Formal and, of
course, the traditional and ever-successful karaoke evening
‘Gradaoke’. It is with great pleasure that I once again congratulate all those who graduated this year.

Although many readers will not be familiar with
any of the names below, I feel it is also apt to mention here
the graduates who were presented with Honorary Life Memberships (HLMs) of the JCR this year, in recognition of their
efforts and achievements going above and beyond the call of
duty in numerous roles within the JCR:

And (rather awkwardly with regards to this report!) my successor Alice also awarded me HLM;

Congratulations must also be extended to Amy Campo-McEvoy, a passionate and committed member of our JCR who
received college-wide recognition at the Durham Student Union
Awards Evening by winning the “Individual Contribution to
the Community” award for her work with Student Community Action, DUCK and as our International Representative on
Welfare Committee (and therefore for her role in setting up our
aforementioned volunteering schemes).

Finally, it is with great satisfaction that I am able to
pass on the hypothetical helm of the good JCR ship to the
capable hands the incoming JCR President Alice Dee – I’ve no
doubt she is going to do a phenomenal job and the JCR is lucky
to have such a competent, committed and passionate leader for
next year. I wish her the very best of luck.

JCR Exectuive Committee 2014-15 (from left to right, back row to front): Heather Mitchell, Alice Dee,
Katie Hipkiss, Ollie Rollinson, Sabs Sandhu, Frankie Humphreys, Alicia Kenshole, Lizzie Webster, Mark
Barratt, Rhys Williams, Alex Shepherd (Charlotte Whistlecroft absent).

JCR EXEC LIST

JCR EXEC LIST

JCR President

Social Chair

JCR President

Social Chair

Frankie Humphreys: For her work as Publicity Officer on Shop
Committee, her standard-setting role as the first ever
Campaigns Officer and her tenure this year as an exceptional
JCR Secretary.

Vice-President Bar Steward

Community Officer

Bar Steward

Nick Sidwell: For his widespread contributions to the JCR,
including tenures on Shop & Livers’ Out Committee, three years
on Bar Committee and four years within the Rugby Club, and
his endless endeavours towards creating a conducive
college community.

Alex Shepherd

JCR Treasurer

Shop Chair

Senior Welfare Officer

Union Officer

JCR Chair

Formals Officer

Alicia Kenshole: For her three years as part of Welfare Committee (including as its leader this year, in her capacity as Senior
Welfare Officer) and her contributions to the Student Union’s
Welfare, Equality & Diversity Committee.

2014/15
Mark Barratt

Mark Barratt, JCR President 2014-15

Sabs Sandhu

Lizzie Webster

Rhys Williams

JCR Treasurer

Shop Chair

Ollie Rollinson

Welfare Officer Union Rep
Alicia Kenshole

Alice Dee

2015/16
Alice Dee

Emily Hayes
Heather Mitchell
(ex-officio)

Lauren Polson

Rose Malleson

Oliver Rollinson: For his three years of immeasurable dedication and commitment to improving the Shop, including his
tenure as Shop Treasurer and four terms as Shop Chair.

JCR Chair
Charlotte Whistlecroft

Formals Officer
Katie Hipkiss

Dean Lo Seen Chong

For more information and to keep up to date with photos and news from the JCR, see our new website: www.st-aidans.com

JCR Secretary Sports Officer
Frankie Humphreys

Heather Mitchell

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News from College

Emilie Sims

Lisa Whitwing

Abi Holmes

JCR Secretary Sports & Societies
Officer
Ruby Goddard

News from College

Ella Egerton

Justin Beese

From the SCR President

St Aidan’s College on the 25th April. We invited research students from St Aidan’s College, Van Mildert College, Trevelyan College
and St Mary’s College to give talks and present posters. We attracted students who were looking for an outlet to practice their presentation skills, present a new research avenue or just build their confidence with conference presentations. All the SCR members,
JCR members, and people from other colleges were invited to come and join us on the day.

Hao Zhou reviews the SCR year 2014-2015

Mystical Inter-MCR Formal
St Aidan’s SCR held the second St. Aidan’s inter-MCR formal
on 24th November2014, which served to introduce St. Aidan’s
to postgraduate members of other colleges. It was also designed
to encourage friendship and cooperation among the wider
postgraduate community. With a “Mystical” theme we aimed to
demonstrate the fun and diversity that sets St Aidan’s apart from
many other Durham colleges. We had around 70 Aidan’s SCR
members and around 110 members from other colleges’ MCR
attending. This inter-college event was well received and I hope
there will be a similar inter-MCR or inter-SCR event next year.
College Burns Night
The SCR organised the College Burns Night, which took place
on the 26th January. It has been one of our favorites and best
attended events for years. This year, half of the people that
attended were SCR members and the other half JCR members.
The celebration involved Scottish-themed meals, music and
poetry reading and finished with a Ceilidh dance in the dining
hall. We’d like to thank the JCR execs and college staff who have
helped us to make this happen.

The St Aidan’s SCR is unique as it brings together postgraduates,
staff from around the University and College members from
the regional communities. Members of St Aidan’s SCR come
from all walks of life, with a wide range of academic focuses and
interests. No matter whether they are living in or out, St Aidan’s
College is a great place for them to meet new friends, try new
sports, join exciting societies, exchange academic interests, and
attend wonderful events throughout the year.

In the last two academic years, I finished my first MA
as the PG Rep of St Aidan’s SCR and then my second MA in
Translation Studies as the SCR Chair. Now as the President,
I am responsible for speaking on behalf of the SCR, for the
welfare of the SCR and its Members and for the management
of SCR facilities. It is hard to believe that I have already spent
3 years in Durham. When I arrived in 2012, I definitely didn’t
expect to stay for such a long time, which however feels like a
blink of the eyes. This year, in particular, has been a very busy
year for me and my new executive members. Everything started
from the induction week. A few returners helped welcoming
new students, bringing them to their rooms, taking everyone to
the matriculation etc. During the induction week, I got to know
many of the newcomers so quickly and started to recruit members who seemed interested in becoming SCR execs. I was very
lucky to be elected the SCR president in October 2014 and I am
especially thankful for having my execs’ support throughout the
year. We had a variety of events, including social activities and
academic exchanges.

SCR Public Lecture Series
The SCR executive committee launched the 2015 series of SCR public lectures in this early spring. It is our intention to run these
events at least monthly, or even more regularly. The talks were given by members of the SCR on their subjects of expertise and
followed by questions and a group discussion. We were extremely pleased to note a truly diverse range of topics and a growing
number of attendances throughout the year. We hope that this trend will continue and look forward to organising a new series of
lectures next year.

Here is a list of the talks we had this academic year:
Mr Sam McKay: “Applied Theatre and Pedagogies of Hope”
Miss Susan McLean: “Nietzsche’s theory of ‘History for Life’”
Mr Gilberto Tetlalmatzi: “Is the Universe Elegant?”
Miss Amy Greer Murphy: “Motherhood, austerity and everyday lived experiences of health in Stockton-on-Tees”
Mr Joshua Stocco and Mr Andrew Cheek: “Being Brian Cox(ovich): How physicists ‘see’ things.”
Mr Oli Parken: “British popular attitudes towards Nazi atrocities during the Second World War
Mr Jordan Rex: “Brewing up the past: a brief history of beer in society”.

The Murder Mystery formal event was one to be remembered.
Durham University actors dressed as members of St. Cluedo’s
College, and put on an excellent performance that saw attendees
and their guests thrust into a situation where they had to solve
a murder. After what was an extremely entertaining evening,
with delicious food and excellent catering service, prizes were
handed out to the tables that had solved the crime, and had the
best fancy-dress.

I remember finding it hard at the beginning of each academic year, because I had just said goodbye to friends with whom I had had
a wonderful time in the past academic year. But I know it’ll be the same every year as the majority of our members are studying
for a one year masters. In my first year, a friend of mine told me that “You’ll cry twice in Durham: the day you arrive and the day
you leave.” It was somehow engraved in my heart all these years. When running for President last October, I said in my speech that
I wish to “make Durham the place where you cry when you have to leave”. A year has past and I do hope I did help to make some
Aidanites’ college experience better in one way or another.

There are many people to thank: our amazing Principal Dr Susan Frenk, Vice Principal Mr Stefan Klidzia and all the college staff, JCR president Mark Barratt and his lovely JCR execs, my wonderful SCR execs and all the SCR members of this fantastic
year. As a final note, I would like to give my sincere gratitude to two previous SCR execs: Mr Cameron Clegg and Mr Matthieu
Schaller, who welcomed me when I arrived at St Aidan’s College three years ago, who have been working with me in the past few
years to make our SCR a better community. As their predecessor, I shall keep working for the SCR and make St Aidan’s home to
many many other new members.

Hill College West Research Forum

Thank you.

The annual Hill Colleges West Research Forum was hosted at

Hao Zhou - SCR President 2013 - 2014

Murder Mystery Night

News from College

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News from College

From the Sports Officer

college festival of sport coincided with the date of the Summer Ball. As expected therefore, participation from Aidan’s (who were
defending champions) was much lower than normal. Regardless, there were still some notable achievements. The Men’s 4x100m
relay team took first place, and Gabi Burton took gold in the women’s 100m. Finally there was a 1500m double from Lauren Munro-Bennett and Rupert Wood. Aspiring triathlete Lauren would also go on to compete in her first elite level national triathlon, and
is certainly a name to look out for in the future as she hopes to go to the very top of her sport.

As we sign off on another academic year, there is a chance to
pause and reflect on a largely successful year for Aidan’s sport.
This year saw more teams than ever take to the pitch, court
or track to represent the college, with many fledgling sides
enjoying their debut season in college sport. Notably, this year
saw the creation of both an all female Pool team (the F team),
and an all female Darts team (SACDET). Both of these sides
represent firsts for their respective sports, with no other college
having women’s teams for either. As expected, such enthusiasm brought some remarkable successes with it, and thus what
follows is a brief report of notable achievements by Aidanites in
2015.

Firstly, many alumni members reading this will
undoubtedly have known, and have been friends with Jack Caswell. In order to ensure Jack’s memory and sporting legacy for
the college live on, St. Aidan’s boat club this year named their
new VIII boat in his honour. As well as this, many will also be
aware of the Caswell cup, set up in memory of Jack, to recognise
the achievements and commitment of one Aidanite who has
gone above and beyond the call of duty to make a contribution
to sport at the college. This year, the cup was awarded to Charlie
Greenwood for, amongst many other things, his outstanding
commitment to the Football club, of which he was A team captain.

Under Greenwood’s leadership, the football A team
enjoyed an incredible season. Following their devastating loss
on penalties to eventual champions Hatfield A last year, our
boys produced an incredible floodlit cup run. After triumphing 2-0 over Collingwood in the semi-final, the team was in an
unexpected but eagerly anticipated final against lower league
opponents Butler A. Unfortunately, heartbreak struck in the
night, as ex Burnley man Mike King was forced off early with a
hamstring injury. Shortly after, Butler took the lead, somewhat
against the run of play. Despite Butler being reduced to 10 men
in the second half, Aidan’s couldn’t find a decisive equaliser, and
JoBo held on to win by a goal to nil to lift the cup. In spite of the
result, the team was still immensely proud of their efforts and
achievements.

The Men’s efforts were paralleled by the women’s team.
Boasting an incredibly strong squad for the women’s second

Heather Mitchell - Sports Officer 2014 - 2015

Heather Mitchell reviews the sporting year 2014/2015

Photo by Brian Kulik and Lauren Polson

Photo by Brian Kulik and Lauren Polson
division, Aidan’s dominated the league from start to finish.
Ultimately delivering an invincible season, score-lines in excess
of 10 goals were not infrequent from Katie Gardner’s women,
as they went on to claim promotion to the top tier, and with it
an extremely impressive league title. With much of the team
staying on, the ambitions of the team will undoubtedly stretch
far higher than survival next season, with a top tier title not
looking highly out of the question.

On the rugby field, Xaver Touscheck also led his men
to the floodlit cup final. After an incredibly dramatic semi-final win over Mildert, which saw a last gasp try take the game
to overtime, Aidan’s were faced with the unenviable task of
toppling Collingwood A, who in first time had scored over 150
unanswered points across a series of matches. Unfortunately,
despite James Murchison scoring the first try of the game to give
Aidan’s the lead, Collingwood proved far too strong, eventually
running out 48-10 victors, delivering a second gutting final loss
in the space of 3 days following the football.

The finals duck would finally be broken, however,
by the pool team. Making it to finals day with a dominant 5-1
victory over Mildert (who rather stroppily refused to even play
the remaining frames), their hopes were surprisingly quite low,
as exam season took its toll, and meant a full cohort of 6 players
was only complete the night before finals day. A favourable
semi-final draw against Hild Bede D successfully negotiated
5-2, Aidan’s faced strong favourites Cuth’s A in the final. Cuth’s
had only lost 2 matches all season, but Aidan’s could take heart
from knowing they themselves had inflicted one of those losses.
The match itself was a highly tense affair, with the two sides
exchanging frames to leave it nailbitingly close. Stepping up to
the plate in what looked like proving the deciding frame, it was
Fresher Tristan Hassan who produced nerves of steel to handle
the pressure and sink the final black, to scenes of delight. The
first silverware of the year for Aidan’s had been claimed.

Following in the same vein in the post exam period,
a very strong cricket club, led by ‘grandpa’ Chris Lindop also
earned their way to finals day. The semi-final, against Hatfield,
proved to be a thrilling affair, coming right down to the final
overs, as the boys secured a 5 run win. That set up a final against
St. Cuths, which ultimately proved much more straightforward
for Aidan’s, as they delivered a convincing win to the delight of
the Aidanite fans in attendance.

Finally, it was somewhat unfortunate that this years

News from College

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News from College

From the Boat Club Captain

creating the new website—another key ingredient which has added to the professional look of the Club I had hoped for.

The Club has changed significantly for the better over the past three years. This change has been most profound over the
last year, and that success has been testament to the will of our Members. The Club has an admirable fleet, a history of race wins, a
professional website, sponsorship, a new constitution, blazers and so much more. The Club is consistently in the top three or four
Colleges of the Pennant Series. Most of all, it has become a strong family. The squads are larger than ever, we have finally begun to
focus on the importance of strong Freshers and we have the best Boat Club social scene in Durham. I want to finish by thanking
my Executive Committee for their hard work in helping the Club achieve the changes I thought it needed. The core infrastructure is
built, and I have every confidence in the incoming Exec to fine tune the Club and continue to make it better.

Alexander Sansom reviews the Boat Club year 2014 – 2015
The change in the Boat Club over my time here has been
immense. When I arrived in October 2012, the Club was
struggling to made headway, with an ageing fleet, poor fresher
intake and an even poorer social scene. With this in mind, the
development of the Club under my captaincy has been about
addressing the big issues—sorting the core infrastructure, before the fine-tuning could take place.

The Club’s financial strength this year has enabled the
development of core infrastructure. The new Kanghua VIII
has improved the ability of our crews, presented the Club as a
professional outfit and inspired a new year of rowers. We owe
this, and are deeply grateful, to our sponsors Brown Cooper
Marples, the generous donation by the Alumni Association and
the savings that the previous decade of Executive Committees
left us. I must also send my thanks to Jack Pooley, the man with
the knowledge to get us the biggest bang for our buck. Furthermore, a stroke of luck in some well-fortuned insurance payouts
has allowed us to reinforce our training fleet with another plastic IV, and this has been crucial in keeping up with the demand
of growth in the Club. Despite all of these purchases, the club
has remained out of debt, allowing us to maintain good reserve
funds (for when Cox Boxes break right before WeHoRR), and to
leave the incoming Executive Committee with enough financial
freedom for new purchases.

This year also saw our first sponsored ergo event.
Rowers from across our squads rowed non-stop for 24 hours,
covering 583,348 metres. The event raised £1058, of which £529
has been donated to Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue for their excellent work, particularly during the
recent river incidents. We thank all those who donated to the
Charity and to the Club.

A strong Fresher squad is the key to the future of a
strong club. The work of Susanna Elliott, Louise Watkin and
George Laver has been fantastic and the Club now boasts its
strongest ever Fresher Squad. As well as the work of the coaches, I strongly believe that the key to the growth of the Fresher’s
Squad is the result of the social work of Lauren Polson. It takes
the right social scene to foster the bonds, which keep crews motivated at the early hours on a cold winter morning. Socials have
been frequent and impeccably organised. Certainly, they have
been the best I have seen during my time at the club—the night
marking the evolution of the Freshers into the Senior Squad
shall long remain one of my favourite memories of Durham.
Indeed, the Club has a more jovial and pleasant atmosphere.
Long may this continue.

Hannah Futter was elected on a platform to win. I
know now to always take Hannah at her word. Regatta season in
Easter Term for the women’s squad was successful, with many
finals made, but alas no victories. The women could taste blood.
They were hungry come Head season. In Michaelmas, they
began their climb to the top. The IVs achieved first and second
place at Tees Small Boats Head and second at Tyne Small Boats
Head. There was no going back to the days of defeat. In Epiphany, the VIII was victorious at Tyne United New Years Head,
and was the only college squad (men’s and women’s) to compete
at BUCS Head, with a respectable time and having defeated

Alexander Sansom - Boat Club Captain 2014 - 2015
Editor’s Update: The new VIII, funded by donations from the Alumni Association and Brown Cooper Marples, was named in
memory of Jack Caswell. Jack was a respected member of the Boat Club and an asset to Aidan’s sport in general. His parents and
some members of the Boat Club alumni were able to come together for the Boat Naming ceremony in May 2015.

Photo by Brian Kulik and Lauren Polson
several universities. Finally, the VIII had an outstanding race at
WeHoRR starting as number 282 and finishing with a time to
be starting 206 in 2016. Hannah has been a fantastic Women’s
Captain as well as a fantastic contributor to the Executive Committee. If the passion and work she has put in are continued, the
Women’s Squad will unhesitatingly be the best College Squad in
Durham.

James Hammond has put more into this Club than
most and the Men’s Squad has had a successful year. Although
never making it to Henley, the IV had a successful Easter Term.
They placed 35th out of 64 (mainly universities!) at BUCS
Regatta, and lost in the finals of Durham Regatta and York
Regatta to some very respectable crews. The second IV made it
to semi-finals of York Spring Regatta, the final of Durham City
Regatta and the semi-finals of Durham Regatta. York University
will never forgive us. As with the women, the men came into
Michaelmas all guns blazing. At Tyne Small Boats Head the
IM3 4+ came 6th, and the Nov 4+ 2nd – losing out because of
an unfortunate blade clash with Durham School. Second place
in the Indoor Rowing Championships was an incredible effort,
and awarded us two hours of tank time. In Epiphany, the Nov
8+ won Tyne Unite New Years Head, the Nov 4+ won Butler
Head and the VIII came fourth at Hayward Cup. Finally, after
appeasing the weather Gods, the VIII was able to perform
excellently at HoRR, coming 5th out of the 11 college crews.
Overall it has been a fantastic year. The Men’s Squad has always
been professional and successful, but it has lacked the strength
in numbers, only fielding a strong first IV or VIII. Hammond,
however, has helped transform this, and the Squad is now left in
its strongest position since I have been here.

As well as the success of the Men’s and Women’s
squads, the Club also fielded a winning Mixed IV at Mildert
Head.

Finally, I name my Clubman of the Year to be Kenneth
Sandman. Since joining two years ago, Kenny has enriched Club
life. He is always positive, helpful and gives up so much of his
time to row, coach, cox, dig out the landing stage in his favourite waders and more. The HoRR VIII is particularly grateful to
him for stepping in during the training week. I am also most
appreciative for the days and days of work Kenny has done in

News from College

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News from College

Societies Update

Life after Durham

Alice Dee brings us up to date on the JCR’s thriving Society
scene

Margaret Matthews (nee Bamlett 1957 -1960) reminisces on
her time at Aidan’s

In the last two years, the presence of societies in the JCR has grown rapidly. This is following a restructure within the Executive
committee giving societies equal representation. We now have several very active societies, as well as some that function on a lower
level.

In 2013, the International Society, FemSoc, and the Fashion show society were all ratified. Since then they have individually succeeded. FemSoc holds weekly meetings, varying from film showings to debates. The International Society now has almost 200
members and hold regular events. Their activities range from music nights to language cafes and volunteering in the local community. After ratification, the Fashion Show society held its first annual show at the start of 2015. The event raised over £2000 for the
‘Concern Worldwide Charity’.

More recently DUCK Society, Foreign Affairs Society and LGBTIQ+ Society have been ratified and are continuing the
trend for proactive societies. The Foreign Affairs society have organised a series of talks from MPs across the political spectrum.

Back in the days of St. Aidan’s Society, resident in The Bailey under the sharp eye of Miss Scott, ably assisted by Miss Sladden, we
spent time looking with longing gaze at the fine plans to build a new St. Aidan’s College. At least we lived to see it completed and
instead of bringing in male guests under strict rules of non-engagement, they now live in the place as well!

Some of us attended the last 57-60 reunion, and enjoyed reminiscences of academic achievement (and disaster), as well as
the curious personal quirks of our lives.  When I arrived at St. Aidan’s, I was given a room in the Bailey, sharing with one girl with
fragile health, and another who was a late admission and arrived three days later, both fresh from boarding school and as naïve as
I was. We have remained friends throughout our lives. Miss Scott remembered names well and frequently took her dog, Tinker, for
a walk along the Bailey just before 10p.m., pausing if she saw a romantically entwined couple having a goodnight kiss, just to say
‘Goodnight Miss …......., you WILL be in on time, won’t you?’ 

 In Fresher’s week I went to everything that was happening, from Country Dancing to Drama Society, Light Opera Group,
Film Soc., Jazz Club, Choir with Prof Hutchings, no politics and very little religion! Then I was moved out and spent my first year
living at Shincliffe Hall and from my own close friends we later managed one marriage to a famous playwright, one who nearly
married a pop singer of our generation, one who became Senior Archivist at the Imperial War Museum, and inevitably, given the
proximity to John’s and Chad’s, several clergy wives. When we were busy planning social events at the Hall, or deciding who had
used all the milk in the one fridge, we had no idea that such things would happen. 

For the following two years I had lodgings in the Bailey in the ‘Deaconessary’, a training house for deaconesses, and if it
was not full, the vacant rooms were let to female Aidan’s students. The room overlooked Chad’s chapel and their students could
occasionally be observed going into the chapel for Matins, striped pyjama legs visible as they sleepily fastened their cassocks.   Once
my room mate was ill and her current boyfriend came to see her. I absented myself discreetly, only to be accosted on the stairs by
the Head Deaconess, who demanded that I go immediately to get him out of the house, as such behaviour did not befit the establishment. 

The roles open to women at that time had some limitations so it is not surprising that several of us turned to teaching or
further academic roles. Some joined mission organisations and worked abroad. Sporting success was barely recognised, although
I still have my miniature blade from being part of the successful Aidans’ rowing crew in 1958. We also fielded a decent table tennis
team and once played a football match, the historic photo made it into the local Press and the College archives. Our secret weapon
was a Cuth’s student in drag!

I followed other family members to Durham and was not disappointed. The academic quality was first-class, being taught
by leading scholars of the day. I continue to quote from the sayings of Randolph Quirk and Louis Allen, who not only lectured, but
opened their homes to us for tutorials. 

The notion of debt and deprivation did not enter the conversation as we were still a ‘make do and mend’ generation. The
social life was vibrant and challenging and very few had enough cash to drink too much. What a great time we had!

Alice Dee

Margaret Matthews (nee Bamlett)

Class of 1970/71: Aidan’s Rowing Crew Reunion in August 2015
In 1968, a few of us Aidan’s girls somehow got involved in starting a college rowing crew. Maybe our coach John Millington approached one of us, but initially we were five: Pat Wicks (Cox),
Carolyn Dallas (Stroke), Alison Earl, Jane Parker and Julia Clixby (Bow). We went out to practise in all weathers, initially in a
tub four and then we progressed to a clinker four. I don’t think
we ever did ‘ergs’ or went on any special diets. Carrying the boat
in and out of the boathouse was always a chore. And we had to
bring along a slab of lard to oil the rowlocks. After a nasty fall
into the cold water while getting out of the boat, Alison decided
to step down and was replaced by Penny Davison.

We entered a regatta in spring 1968 and beat the York
University crew before losing to the Durham University crew
in the next round. That was our highlight. During our time at
Durham, the river was always busy with rowing crews from all
the colleges and we hoped for a liaison with one of the men’s
crews. There were punts on the river in the summer months
which were hired from Brown’s Boathouse, sadly no longer
there. Rowing through the crooked arches of Elvet Bridge was

The Fashion Show Society

News from College

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always a challenge for our cox, Pat, while our coach exhorted us to ‘press with the thighs’ and ‘feel those beginnings’ from his bike
on the towpath.

In August 2015 we had a reunion of the whole crew in Durham which extended to other Aidan’s colleagues and spouses.
It was arranged by Jane Smith (nee Parker) and lawyer Stephanie Nicolle, together with Carolyn and since-married rowers Penny
Andrews, Pat Murrell, Alison Milledge and me, Julia Newton; and fellow students Angela Pickersgill, nee Millins, Sue Whitfield,
nee Pitt and Carole Keeley, nee Chalmers were also invited for part or all of the three days. Several of us met up at the Premier Inn
in the hope that we would recognise each other after so many years and remember the husbands’ names. Our first evening was
celebrated at the Bishop Langley pub, which was called the Coach and Eight in our day, when it was very new and a step up from
the Kwai Lam as an alternative to college food. We chatted well into the evening, when we were finally asked to pay up and leave!

The next morning was spent by most of us visiting the Magna Carta exhibition on Palace Green, while others were awed
anew by the Cathedral and delighted by the extra shops which have mushroomed in Durham since our day. In the afternoon, we
took advantage of a new feature, a boat cruise along the Wear, with a fascinating guided tour to hear forgotten facts and made-up
myths about the riverside. Prebends Bridge was as beautiful as ever, especially after being cleaned recently, but Kingsgate Bridge
and Dunelm House, former host to Pink Floyd and various university college balls, looked rather shabby in the sun.

The second evening was enjoyed at the Cellar Door in Saddler Street when we renewed and extended our friendship to
our current partners who all seemed to gel. Next morning, we said our goodbyes and made sure to keep in touch in future. It was a
wonderful time together with lots of old memories brought back, especially those on the river.

respect by raising awareness of, and promoting an understanding of it’s causes, symptoms and the treatments available.

PTSD is essentially a memory filing error caused by a traumatic event and can affect anyone who has been exposed to a
traumatic event. The defining characteristic of a traumatic event is its capacity to provoke fear, helplessness, or horror in response
to the threat of injury or death and therefore can affect anyone. Examples of traumatic events include serious accidents, being told
you have a life-threatening illness, violent personal assault, military combat, miscarriage, house fires, childhood abuse; and it’s
estimated that 10,000 women per year develop PTSD as a result of a traumatic childbirth.

The majority of people exposed to traumatic events experience some short-term distress which resolves itself without the
need for professional intervention, although unfortunately the small proportion who do develop PTSD are unlikely to seek help;
evidence suggests that around 70% of people who suffer with PTSD in the UK do not receive any professional help at all – for many,
they don’t realise they have it, or believe the common misconception that it is a condition that only those who have been, or are in
the military can have.

Jacqui Suttie, Founder of PTSD UK said, “My Post Traumatic Stress Disorder came as a result of being assaulted and
left me with debilitating, exhausting, uncontrollable and crippling fear – stuck in the fight/flight/freeze adrenaline surge. Fear of
everything, and unable to do almost anything (including just being me) without incredible effort.

At times I was unable to move, breathe or speak from intense fear just by going about my everyday life. I developed psoriasis under my eyes from crying so much, doctors wanted to put me on beta-blockers so I didn’t damage my heart from putting it
under too much stress, I didn’t sleep for more than an hour at a time, my muscles and joints were in agony from being so tense, I’d
chip my fillings from clenching my teeth so hard without knowing and I’ve made life difficult for everyone around me – I wasn’t me
anymore, I became a highly sensitive faulty CCTV system.”

Successful treatments are available, such as Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprogramming (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), but many sufferers are not aware of these options, although they are available through the NHS.

PTSD can be an incredibly lonely and isolated place and so PTSD UK will also provide advice and support for the friends
and family of those affected – ultimately, they aim to be able to help fund treatment options for sufferers too.

Now launched and registered officially, PTSD UK hopes to begin its fundraising efforts and provide the much needed
support to those who have (and may not know they have) PTSD through various fundraising activities and events and the website
www.ptsduk.org.

Julia Newton, nee Clixby (Aidan’s 1967 – 70).

Jacqui Suttie

Jacquetta Gomes writes about becoming the first female Buddhist Fire Chaplain in the World

I am a St Aidan’s alumna. I studied there from 1972-75. Climbing the 72(?) steps was worth it for the wonderful views. One
day I looked out of my third year room overlooking the City to
see the Castle and Cathedral shrouded in golden light and the
rest of the City in shadow.

I studied the Mahayana Buddhism option at the
School of Oriental Studies in my third year. I attended the Durham University Buddhist Society. Forty years later I gave two
talks to the same Durham University Buddhist Society in 2015.

In 1975 I visited Sri Lanka to stay with a Buddhist
family. Venerable Narada Maha Thera (1898-1983) became my
Preceptor, administered the Five Precepts (Panca Sila) and gave
me the Buddhist name, Jayasili. I became a Sangha Authorized
Dhamma Teacher in 1983 and took the Bodhicari Precepts in
1994. I am “Contemporary Person of Distinction” in Burkes
Landed Gentry.

In 2014 I was invited to become a member of University College [Castle] SCR Senior Common Room. The College
Chaplain and I ran two events of Buddhist-Christian dialogue
in the Norman Chapel in Durham Castle. I am also a Buddhist
Representative on Durham University Interfaith Forum.

I am currently involved in voluntary work with the
FRS Fire and Rescue Service with Faith and Fire and BEWES
Buddhists Engaged with Emergency Services. In 2014, Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women recognized
me as the first female Buddhist Fire Chaplain in the world.

The UK’s first charity to help everyone affected by PTSD has
been launched

Jacqui Suttie (2005) sent us this press release for a charity she has recently set up. It would be great if there were
any alumni that would be willing to spread the word of the charity, perhaps consider it to raise funds if you’re
running a marathon etc, or even donate!

Jacquetta Gomes

It’s estimated that 1 in 10 people in the UK will experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives, but
until now, there has been no official support or assistance for sufferers and their families affected by this debilitating condition.

PTSD UK has been launched with the vision that everyone experiencing PTSD gets both support, understanding and

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https://www.facebook.com/sakyadhita.international/
posts/701555833263423

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Travel Reports

Rohini Aggarwal shares her very recent experience of ‘life after
Durham’
I graduated with an English literature degree in 2015 and like
many English graduates, or arts graduates in general, was still
lost as to which career path to follow. Should I pursue law? Editing? International development? The choices were endless, or
perhaps non-existent, depending on which way you look at it. I
was confused and utterly exhausted from my final year studies
and the pressure of university. Whilst I have numerous positive
memories from my time at Durham, I definitely experienced
claustrophobia in such a small, traditional university city. This
could be why I decided to leave the city, country and, in fact,
continent upon graduating; to escape responsibility as well as
experience the wider world.

Armed with a youthful, idealistic desire to rectify all
the world’s wrongs, I set off for an internship at the Gender
Health Justice and Research Unit in Cape Town. To be absolutely honest, the work started off as isolating and underwhelming. I was the only intern in the office, and, as I was working
with academics, I often went a whole day without so much as
a decent conversation with anybody; so much for the senior
researchers’ promise to mentor me throughout my placement.
A typical day in the office for me was basically staring at a
computer screen all day long, reading articles and writing up
literature reviews. And all voluntary! Being an unpaid intern
definitely leads to internal battles with oneself.

However, work soon picked up! The things I was
reading were genuinely interesting and often problematic. For
example, the reasons judges provided for acquitting rapists were
truly unbelievable and, quite frankly, depressing. Despite being
distanced from the problem, I began to realise that the work really was necessary to bring about change and I began to become
more enthused about my research.

With the arrival of other interns, the office became
livelier. Stimulating discussion was incited throughout the day
as we popped our heads round each others’ doors. We began
to feel like a team and together had more of a presence in the
office. To be honest, the unit would not have managed without
us. By the end of my three month placement, I had written
three literature reviews which will be published in the coming
year. Projects I have worked on included evaluating the mandatory minimum sentence system for rape crimes; the relationship
between policing and sex workers; as well as the relationship
between policing and LGTTI people, all spanning across
South Africa. I also got to attend meetings between grassroots
organisations as well as training programmes for teaching sex
education to young people. I have met some amazing people
who have had incredible experiences. I have been exposed to
many disciplines in this unit –from health sciences to law. This
has helped me eliminate some career paths whilst encouraging
me to delve further into others.

Though the work may not have been ideal, and often
I felt I could be anywhere rather than South Africa, I am so
thankful this internship brought me to such a stunning, interesting and varied country. South Africa is widely considered
one of the most naturally beautiful places on this planet. The
sprawling city of Cape Town is surrounded by jaw-dropping
mountains and an abundance of hiking trails one can escape to,
whilst enclosed by some of the most beautiful beaches in the
world. They have it all it seems!

It has also shown me the arduous reality of interna-

tional development work. It is very often very poorly paid –with
other interns approaching 30 and still not receiving a proper
wage. It also means extended periods of time away from home.
Though I have loved my time here and would do it again in
a heartbeat, it is tough and I definitely had a bit of a bumpy
start…

It was the first time I had ever paid rent to someone
and instead of, as was promised in the contract, picking me up
and taking me to my cosy accommodation so I could settle in
the weekend before I began my first ever international internship during my first ever week in South Africa (!!!), I was
dropped me off in the middle of nowhere at a six-pound per
night travellers lodge. It was lovely –don’t get me wrong, but not
what I had spent months organising, nor what I had paid for!
Not a good start. After running my phone battery dry in the
hostel’s WiFi hotspot, trying to sort out this accommodation
mess, I eventually managed to make an arrangement with my
prospective housemates, and my disorganised landlord. I was
picked up and, finally, dropped off at what was to be my house
for the next three months–though I had to sleep in the living
room for the first few days.

Though my housemates are the loveliest, most interesting and kind people, for a family and friends centred girl,
perhaps I could not keep this lifestyle up beyond my twenties.

I will not return with a much clearer mindset of what I
wish to do ‘for the rest of my life’. But I have learnt that my sole
aim is no longer reaching a high position by 30 with a six figure
wage. It is about experiencing life and trying a variety of paths
in a multiplex of places. I have learnt to chill and take it slow. I
have learnt that I am not that old at 21, that university won’t be
‘the peak of life’ and everything will be downhill from here. If I
continue to try new things in amazing places, I will meet people
from whom I can learn an incredible amount.

Ben Murray’s month-long expedition to the Tarnava Mare region of Romania
Last summer, I went on a month-long
expedition to the Tarnava Mare region of
Romania with help from the St. Aidan’s
Travel Award. This was organised by the
conservation charity Operation Wallacea,
which runs projects researching biodiversity all around the world, in association
with a local NGO called Fundaţia Adept.
I was a research assistant looking at the
wildlife and farming practices in the area,
which has remained virtually unchanged
since the medieval era. Each week, we
camped in a different village (four in
total – Criţ, Daia, Mălâncrav and Apold)
and conducted studies of the surrounding area. The ultimate goal of this work
is to show how valuable this rare habitat
is and persuade the local and national
government to provide greater ecological
protection in the area.

We also conducted bird point
counts, stopping every five hundred metres on a ten kilometre walk to count all
species that could be seen or heard, and
mist netting, where birds are caught in
nets, identified and ringed to track their
movements. One particularly prevalent
species is the red-backed shrike, which
has all but disappeared from the UK – we
caught more individuals in one morning
than still remain in Britain. Mist netting
and point counts were also used in a
similar way for looking for bats. We also
looked for bat roosts in churches, barns
and other old buildings.

Brown bear cub captured on
camera trap

Rohini Aggarwal

Fortified church in Apold

Check out my blog: escapetownblog.wordpress.co.uk if you
would like to find out more about my experience in South
Africa!

Features

and forested ridges. Ploughing, planting
and harvesting are all done by hand with
basic, limited machinery and no artificial
fertilisers or pesticides. The area has been
likened to England in the Middle Ages
and so is of great significance to historians as well as biologists. Prince Charles
has great personal interest in this area
due to this organic agriculture, working
actively to protect traditional practices
and even owning a house in one of the
villages we visited.

The landscape of this area is so
unique because of its unique history. In
the 12th Century, Saxon farmers were
settled in this area to provide a buffer
against the advances of the Ottoman
empire. This area became known as
Transylvania (from the German for seven
fortresses) and a local prince named
Vlad Dracul became famous for impaling his enemies, giving rise to the legend
of Dracula – we visited his birthplace
in Sighișoara at the end of the expedition. All the villages in the area feature
fortified churches from this time as there
were insufficient resources to build full
castles. In the final week, we stayed in
one of the towers of the fortified church
in Apold. Farming methods in this
isolated region are similar to that period,
with arable farming in the flat bottoms of
valleys around villages, pasture and hay
meadows for livestock on the valley sides

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This non-intensive agriculture
provides a haven for all sorts of wildlife
that is threatened with extinction in the
rest of Europe. The area has one of the
largest populations of European Brown
Bears, along with wolves, wild boar and
a number of deer species. We placed
camera traps and conducted searches in
the forests for tracks or scat of these large
mammals. While nobody saw any bears
in the month I was there, we found many
tracks and evidence of them digging
for roots as well as recording them on
the camera traps. Small mammals also
thrive and we set traps in several types of
habitat, catching a variety of mice, voles
and shrews. Lizards and snakes are also
far more common than in the UK and we
saw many reptiles during surveys.

Me holding swallowtail butterfly

Traditional hay meadows are
cut far less regularly than in modern
hay-making, allowing many rare species
of flowers and butterflies to exist. We
conducted both botany and butterfly
surveys, walking along fifty metres transects and identifying indicator species
that show the nature value of that area.
This habitat is under threat, however,
from the economic pressure to intensify
farming that began under the communist
regime and continues in the developing
economy in the European Union. We
interviewed local farmers to see how
their practices have changed and how
they intend to progress. This allowed us
to build up a picture of how the villages
are changing and how effective current
government programmes are. Tourism
is being actively promoted in the area, as
it is not well known outside of Romania
at present. We helped to set up a fifty
kilometre cyclic trail running between
villages and I, along with several others,

acted as a marshal in a race that was held
to celebrate the trail’s opening. The hope
is that initiatives like this will provide
enough money to make this remarkable
place economically viable to maintain.

Kate Moberly shares her diary from her
trip to Cambodia in 2014

to learn when we are gone – so also need access to more plugs
(have 3 CD players at the moment). Also, can the instruments
be available for them to use in their houses whenever? How can
they continue to learn if they can’t play them?

Every Friday at the orphanage, the manager, Sopheary,
held a meeting with all of the teachers and volunteers. I made a
point of addressing all of the above, which I had noticed would
need to be carried out in order to give the children the best possible opportunities for learning the instruments and continuing
once I had gone.
25th August, 2014

Juvenile long-eared owl being
weighed

I took part in all of these surveys
on a rotating basis over the course of the
month and learnt a lot about designing
surveys, handling animals and analysing data. Although I am a chemistry
student, I feel that the skills I developed
are transferable between sciences. Issues
about collecting reliable data and then
finding the best way to study and present
this information are very relevant to both
my current studies and my ambition to
do further postgraduate study. In a more
broad sense, the experience of living
closely and working well with people I
had never met before was not only good
fun but is a valuable skill in any type of
employment. It was also very interesting
staying in a foreign country and talking
to local people, from which I learn a great
deal about their culture and the comparison with British society was fascinating.
I also learnt a great deal from talking to
survey leaders about how to progress in
a research career. To have contributed
to such an important study is a great
privilege as data I helped to collect will
be used for the benefit of the wildlife and
people of a remarkable region. I am very
grateful for all those who contributed to
my expedition and allowing me to have
this amazing experience.
Ben Murray

Hugged Tima today and she said she was so happy I remembered her name :D.

A barrier was squished down today and I did something that not too long ago I would have found simply terrifying – taught 30 little village kids beginner alphabet just me and
Sophie! More tomorrow, so fun. Balance, peacefulness.
Karo [German volunteer who’d been there for a year] helped me
think of a way to properly teach the kids songs (getting them
all together in their break) and to help them continue to learn
when we are gone – best bet is talking to the new permanent
volunteers and getting them to check that the instruments are
available easily and are getting used. Ideally they should live in
the houses also, so long as some sort of system can be made so
that Sopheary (the manager) will allow it. Just thought now it
would be priceless to get the new long term volunteers to know
how to fix the strings and use CD players/tune them also! Also,
to get a contact for them to easily check up how they’re doing/
if they need more strings <- the best thing because I know what
facilities they [the volunteers] have in terms of printing out
songs for the kids.

By the end of the trip, I had made sure the new volunteers (Angie, Lukas and Simon) knew how to fix the strings
and how to use the tuners, and had added all three of them on
facebook; by far the easiest and most reliable means of communication which they will get access to every evening whilst at
the orphanage and in internet cafes in the city.

On the 19th of August 2014, I flew out to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with my university
friend Sophie to volunteer in a Cambodian orphanage; one which I had already visited
twice before. My aim for this expedition was to continue to teach the children music
and to provide them with enough knowledge and material to continue to learn after I
had left. This, I feel, I achieved to the best that I could. I had also planned to perform
at open mic nights and immerse myself in music whilst in Phnom Penh at the weekends, but unfortunately I was simply too exhausted and pushed for time to do this.

This report is constructed from several excerpts of a daily diary which I kept,
showing the progress Sophie and I were making, and of my thoughts and raw reflections I had during my time there. I have kept it as accurate to the book as I could, so
please forgive me for any grammatical errors or colloquial terms – I didn’t want to
change anything for fear of losing the raw emotional meaning underlying my words.

To give some quick details about the first extract, Gina, Annie and Abi are
friends of mine who I went with on my previous visit, and Toby and Dan are friends of
mine from home who also were volunteering at the same time as us, although they left
half way through our visit.
19th August, 2014
Awoke from a nap in the taxi to stop at a market for lunch – hang on, this is familiar…
Oh me oh my we’re here and this is the market! […] The entrance to the compound
with orange arch and white elephants, the drive way! With the thin trees, memory of
cows disappearing out of view… so nostalgic and odd and surreal and amazing and
lucky!!! And there’s the building – and there are the benches under the trees – and
there are some of the children! Hop off and who do I see first but Dalin! Who says
“Kateee”!!! It’s so happy to be back!!! Heart throbbing, woah hey Toby and hey Dan!
So surreal. Sopea is there! And Yoth and Sreykea and everyone! It’s like I never left, although I can feel the time between us. Talk to the permanent German volunteers […]
and later we get chatting and are able to have a laugh. I hope we can prove to them
that we are as keen and involved as Toby and Dan have been. (If we follow our plan
and work around/be flexible with theirs then all should be well). And we will – ‘gonna
throw ourselves in tomorrow, see how things roll and introduce our spin from then
on. Hoorah! Will be hard and a challenge, but it will be doable. Let the fun begin!

Warmed up to the way of things so that by 3 o’clock I was fetching extension
leads and CD players and printing songs to get on with things. The CD players (I
hope) will be brilliant!

28th August
This time at the orphanage I can chat to them all like true
friends who really understand each other […]. I think we can
both see that the world is full of good luck and bad luck, and
that I’ve landed in a pot of good luck, […] whereas over here

29th August
I organized with Sopheary all the guitars, ukuleles, books and
CDs, labelled them according to which house it will live in, and
explained everything again to the kids – where the books/CDs
will live (in the office) and how/where to fix the strings. GOOD.
I hope they will use this. I feel that they found it exciting,
Chanchao said thank you.

21st August, 2014

2nd September

Getting the balance of the day sorted. Must say in meeting tomorrow that we want
to see who is free when and designate a time and a place to teach small groups the
instruments for a set time – this is how they learn and they need to be able to continue

Features

there’s a lot more bad luck to put everything in perspective.
They are unlucky in their families’ poverty out here in Cambodia, but extremely lucky to be so well cared for and privileged
(and educated) here in Who Will. It creates an odd reflection
with the village kids – they have their families and just enough
money (I assume) to support themselves, but then the Who
Will kids live in a very privileged setting with a thousand more
opportunities than the village kids in terms of sponsors and
education, but don’t have their families to fall back into and feel
the love of a mother and a father. It is hard to think which is the
luckier.

I feel that we progressed with the music today, as
Sopheary has agreed to let one guitar, ukulele and CD player
live in each house, under responsibility of the house chief! [One
child from each house is the designated house chief, and is in
charge of communicating problems/concerns with Sopheary
and their house mates]. I am investigating with Gerald [the
chairman of the orphanage] the possibility of the kids being
able to use Sopheary’s laptop and printer to access new songs
they want to learn at any time from ultimate-guitar.com. I
explained to them about all of the books and CDs we have
brought and how they can access them. Sopea’s eyes lit up when
I told him each house will have a resident guitar and he can
work his way through the guitar books. Good.

Sophie and Toby did a great job of teaching some new
songs – which we will teach the chords/recorders to tomorrow/
next week and play altogether by the end.

In the end, Gerald did not allow the children to use Sopheary’s laptop due to internet costs and distraction from work,
but we agreed to let the volunteers print songs for them when
they go to the cities on the weekends, and they would only be
allowed to do this during the holidays in order for the children
to focus on their studies.

They’ve been playing the guitars over the weekend!

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Emily McDonald’s travel bursary report

evening :D I’ve talked with Gerald and we’ve agreed that when
they want to learn new songs, they can tell Angie/Lukas/Simon
(the two new German year-long volunteers and Australian
here for three months), and they will print copies for them off
from ultime-guitar.com. Hoorah! Simon will be very good for
keeping up music and for the kids.
9th September
This is definitely a unique time, and such a happy one, laughter,
jokes, love, squeals, heat. I’m so lucky I get to experience this all
again fresh.
11th September

3rd September
The only bad thing about having one guitar in each house is that
the more advanced people now have less chance/time to play.
Ravy, Yoth, Sophea only share one… Spare guitars in office? Yes,
maybe, but need to fund it…

Had a crazy awesome guitar lesson in a brilliantly pink
sunsetting thunderstorm in a hut on a pond – so utterly beautiful. [The village boy who I was teaching said it was perfectly safe
to stay there!]

In actual fact, I have made no plans to buy any spare
guitars or try and fund for two to be in each house, as it would
be another heavy investment for the time being, and it would be
unfair to give another to just the house with the talented boys.
For now, they must be happy with what they have got.
4th September
Did a good 2 hour singing session today, taught them Price Tag
and Valerie properly. This is a good, obviously effective method
of teaching, but is only temporary. You are only teaching them
one song as opposed to the skill to learn hundreds. I suppose
it’s showing them the way of learning more – this is why their
access to ultimate-guitar.com is super important.

Something which I did not comment on a lot in my
diary was the use of the recorders we brought. Our original
aim with the recorders was to give the more shy girls something to do to include them with the music. However, with the
new system of having a guitar, ukulele, CD player, recorder
and recorder books in each house, this meant they all had the
chance to play every instrument in the end, and so it was less
of an important thing to get the girls playing the recorders. I
did not force anyone to do anything, only encouraged and gave
time to the people who showed a natural interest in which ever
instrument. This, I feel, was the best thing to do, as music is not
for everybody, and it gave me time to concentrate and improve
the children who wanted to learn, as much as I could, given my
short time there.

WELL. On the plane, with Sophie somewhere below me and
47 minutes left of the 25 hour journey. Thank you Cambodia,
thank you Who Will and thank you Russell Smith (and Trustees!).

I hope that from this report you can see the progress
I feel that the music made and can begin to see my personal
accounts of my time there, following my thoughts and therefore
actions which I carried out in the orphanage.

Just to clarify what exactly the £300 you gave me went
towards, here is a break down:

My name is Emily McDonald and I am a recent law graduate
from Saint Aidan’s college, Durham University. I was awarded a
travel bursary so that I could research my children’s book, ‘The
cloud with the silver lining’. I started the book a few years ago
as a creative outlet for when the pressures of a law degree got all
too much. It follows the journey of a cloud as it travels across
the world, having a very unique chance to observe human
behaviour from a panoramic view. Really it seeks to explain
why humans are so driven by a purpose and how our goals vary
from culture to culture. I was particularly keen to learn more
about Singapore as I had heard so much about the country
reflecting a merging of western cultures whilst maintaining a
very Asian feel. Reflecting on my trip, I realise that, actually, of
all the countries I have been to in the world, Singaporeans seem
to be the most united in their purpose to create a country that
they feel proud of.

I spent my time in Singapore trying to soak up the culture and, true to previous testimonials, it really was a merging
of Western and Eastern traditions. The main streets reminded
me of Washington - huge stately buildings, art deco architecture
and an exceptionally clean feel. I spent a few months in Malaysia after my visit to Singapore and, interestingly, the Malaysians
felt Singapore was very clinical, compared to the hustle and
bustle of Kuala Lumpur - it does seem an understandable evaluation. The public transport in Singapore was fantastic compared
to other countries in South East Asia, very efficient and again
incredibly clean. Chewing gum is illegal in Singapore, which I
found rather extreme at first, but after seeing the effects of the
law, I am now a full-blown advocate for the idea. Areas such as
Clarke Quay and the many malls dotted around central areas
were reminiscent of London with the added bonus of tropical
heat. I found I learnt the most about Singapore by simply people
watching. There is a huge expatriate presence in Singapore
which seems to have influenced the culture and it is now heavily
touristy in some places but this now seems to be such a large
part of Singaporean life that it is hard to see a divide between
the old and the new.

One of the most fantastic things about Singapore was
the food; the Hawker Centers (similar to food courts) boasted
an incredible array of Chinese, Indonesian and Malay food.
Visiting the Maxwell Hawker Centre inspired a chapter of
my book; it’s the journey of one man who owns a noodle stall
whose aim is to work in a Michelin star restaurant in London.

£15.96
guitar strings bought in England beforehand
£5.37
instrument tuners bought in England before
hand
£67.00
music books bought in England beforehand
£14.99
blank CDs bought in England beforehand
£28.89
iTunes songs for the CDs bought in England
beforehand
£20.13
guitar/ukulele strings and one electric tuner

bought in Cambodia
£147.66
travel expenses
Thank you for allowing me to go and see my friends again.
Kate Moberly

8th September
Blimey, we fly home in two days! I can’t believe it. I feel like I’ve
come a long way as a person […]. The music is definitely set
on a good course! They know how to use the recorder books/
CDs and players, they play the guitars and ukuleles a lot in the

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This is entirely based on the true story of a vendor I spoke to,
his vision and self-belief was inspiring. Importantly, his Wanton
Beef Noodles were really amazing so I really hope his sense of
purpose leads him where he wants to go. Other recommendations for those visiting Singapore: Laksa - a coconut milk
based spicy soup, Bandung, a violently pink drink that tastes of
Cadburys Turkish Delight and try a cocktail at a bar called the
‘Shaven Cat’, they’re excellent!

I wanted to try to see some of the less touristy areas
of Singapore so visited the ‘Thieves Market’ on Sunger Road.
It was a compilation of hundreds of stalls selling everything
from children’s clothing to Buddhist figurines,to gold and old
cameras. It was very different from your normal flea market - I
got the impression that, true to the name of the market, perhaps
everything wasn’t honestly acquired. At the Thieves market I
saw how real trading is done. It is a very theatrical occasion
where everyone in the close vicinity watches two people barter
for the debated right price. It is very normal to shout in your
own input and lots of clapping and laughing ensues. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work the same when you’re clearly a
tourist, so my attempts at haggling fell short at the language
barrier. I didn’t walk away with any surprise treasures but lots of
material that I hope to include in my book. It must be fascinating to look down on a market from above. Full of such strange
eclectic mix of goods, which must appear entirely useless to
most people but to the right person have immeasurable worth.

My favoruite place I visited in Singapore was the
Botanic Gardens; I got up early and went on a run around the
gardens before it got too hot. The Ginger Garden and Orchid
Gardens were my favourite and it was such a beautiful and
tranquil place to spend time in the heart of the city. There were
over 1000 Orchid species and 2,000 hybrids! There was a beautiful statue of three swans flying together on the Swan Lake and
I spent some time jotting down ideas there. There was also a

garden called the healing garden where people were meditating
and various groups were practicing T’ai Chi. I also visited Arab
Street, which had a fantastic selection of material shops and I
bought silk to bring home and try my hand at dress making.
There were Indian families buying material for Saris and tourists buying cotton to take back and sell around the world.

On my final day in Singapore I visited Bugis Street and
the National Library. I hoped to meet with the curator however
was unable to do so as it was a Diwali, a national holiday. My
visit to Singapore educated me in how similar and different a
country it is to the UK. There is definitely a sense of pride in
the prosperity of the country, which was echoed by the people I
spoke to who lived there. Like the rest of South East Asia there
is a vast mix of cultures and religions, which make it an exciting
and vibrant place to visit. I am so grateful for the opportunity
to visit Singapore and I have already begun work on the next
chapter of the book. Fingers crossed for a best seller.
Emily McDonald

hair, something that no amount of money in China can buy. Inevitably though, because I was the tallest, at 2m, I had the most
requests and the majority of the time, I was happy to have many
Chinese women around me - and so “Tim with the Locals” was
born. This was a photo album compiled by Kevin dedicated to
all the Chinese women (and one or two men) who had their
photo taken with me.

After many photos, we eventually started to explore
the park. However, trails were limited, the maps were abysmal
and the park had been set up with buses and cable cars to easily
get you to the iconic views.

Although the scenery was spectacular, removing the
element of the journey, be it a hike or bike trek, to an end goal,
removed that sense of achievement and in my eyes, diluted the
reward. It’s now with hindsight, that the memories of sheer
volume of tourists are fading, and the beauty of these tall stacks
with sprouting green vegetation remain strong.

The evenings in Zhangjiejie were spent eating copious
amounts of delicious street food. ¥6 (£0.60) bought large egg
friend noodles with spices that I’d never even tasted before, and
for a similar price, one could buy a quarter of a BBQ chicken or
a beer. We feasted in the evenings, and when the bill came, we
were shocked at how little it was. The experience of eating street
food in China isn’t just about what you’re eating, but the ambiance and how you eat it. The seating was a mismatch of plastic
deck chairs or a Coca-Cola table with of course, a Coca-Cola
umbrella. Tables had been wiped down, by smearing the grease
from one area of the table to the other. There was inevitably a
spill or miscellaneous object that had been missed and had to
be watched out for during the meal. Disposable bamboo chopsticks came in their paper sleeves. A ritual of snapping them,
then rolling them together between your palms ensured limited
splinters entered your food and hand. If the meal had lots of
bones, inevitably it did, then it was polite to spit them out on to
the table or floor. It’s not true street food unless there are at least
cockroaches in sight and you have the soundtrack of a Chinese
man hawking in the background. That is one sound that I will
never get used to.

Heading further north and fast forwarding a month,
we had arrived in Mongolia, land of the horses and eternal
blue sky. Our aim for this section of the trip was to experience
Mongolia by horse, and this was realised in the remote town of
Hatgal that sits on the southern tip of Lake Khövsgöl. Getting to

“Tim with the locals”. Photographer: Kevin De
Michelis
most iconic and inspirational of the already iconic places will
be mentioned. Joining me and Kevin on this trip was James, a
Durham Engineering student from Grey College and Cecilia, a
friend of Kevin’s from Belgium.

When I think back to the month spent in China,
Zhangjiejie immediately comes to mind. This was day 10 of
69, and the first location that we managed to wash our clothes.
Zhangjiejie National Park is a place to be visited for its outstanding natural beauty and curious rock formations and your
stereotypical Chinese tourist.

When we arrived at the park, I was expecting a set up
similar to the Lake District or Snowdonia National Park whereby one walks on dirt trails or no trails at all. Like the rest of the
AAAAA rated scenic areas in China, Zhangjiejie had been set
up for mass tourism for Chinese tourists. Every stereotype rang
true. Once we’d left the bus that brought us to the entrance of
the park, we navigated through various large tour groups to get
tickets. These tour groups consisted of 20-30 Chinese tourists,
each wearing the same hat in case anyone got lost and following
some form of protruding object, be it a flag or a large flower
from the tour guide. Canon and Nikon DSLRs were hanging
around every adults neck ready to take photos of friends and
relatives, posing in front of anything of interest - including us.

Some would approach and ask for a photo with anyone
of us. We all had traits that they desired. James and I were tall,
but Kevin and Cecilia had the good fortune of natural blond

Homeward bound - a journey
from East to West by Timothy
Haughton and Kevin De Michelis

The idea for this trip of travelling from Hong Kong back to Europe across land was hatched in Durham during an engineering
computer lab, months before we even set foot in China. Kevin
and I had been accepted into The University of Hong Kong
for an exchange year  - a year that has challenged and pushed
us, not only academically but also in personal development.
Condensing two and a half months of travel into two thousand words cannot do the twenty two locations justice so the

Great Wall of China (from right to left: James
Macfarlane, Kevin De Michelis, Cecilia Dunne,
Tim Haughton). Photographer: a Chinese
hiker
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Section of the Trans-Mongolian train line from
Datong, China, to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Photographer: Kevin De Michelis
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Camping in the steppes of Mongolia. Photographer: Kevin De Michelis
Hatgal was a challenge in itself as it meant enduring a 15 hour
bus ride on what can best be described as a dirt track. We were
exhausted by the time we reached the lake and were all ready
to eat some food. The best way to describe Mongolian food is
hearty. It consisted of lots of red meat and starchy root vegetables, something that I missed at Christmas while in Asia.

After a day’s rest, we met our guide and horses and
commenced our 6 day horse trek. It was slow going and we rode
for 6-7 hours a day. Life was simple. The packhorse carried our
food and clothes and in the evenings, we spent dusk collecting fire wood and cooking. The sunsets across the lake were
magnificent as it acted as a mirror, reflecting the pinks and reds
of the clouds above. There were simple pleasures in Mongolia,
like drinking directly from the lake, as well as finding out more
about our guide and his life in Mongolia. Six days trotted by
and before we knew it, we were back in Hatgal. Kevin had an
unfortunate accident a few kilometres out of Hatgal, where his
horse was spooked by an animal skull and threw him off. Kevin
sustained no serious damage, but was limping for the rest of the
trip.

Mongolia is definitely a place that I’ll visit again. The
people are warm and friendly, and it was the first place where I
have felt completely removed from “The West”. The music they
listen to on the radio is about their horses (who even whinny in
the chorus). The clothes they wear are thick and heavy as they
care about survival over fashion. It is a very laid back way of life
that I am glad I have been a part of, whether it be sleeping in a
Ger or riding a horse.

Russia is vast. The transition from Irkutsk to Moscow
along the Trans-Siberian rail route was subtle yet noticeable.
This section of the trip took 18 days to complete, covering
around 5,000 km and crossing 4 time zones. Although we were
doing the Trans-Siberian rail route, we were taking local trains
and stopping in locations where there were no other western
tourists. Our experience was of third class travel in a sleep
train which would hold 60 people per carriage. Occasionally,
we’d accidentally book second class and be very grateful. All
of our tickets were booked in advance online and the website
was navigated in a hybrid of Russian and English so mistakes
often happened. Moving from Siberia into Europe saw a shift in
wealth, but also appearances. The Russians bordering Mongolia
still shared the round warm weathered faces of Mongolians, but
had more European features of blond hair and fairer skin.

To pass the time on the trains, the longest being 53

James Kessell on volunteering
with Voluntary Service Overseas in Tajikistan

An excursion around Olkhon Island situated
on Lake Baikal in a post Soviet van. Photographer: Kevin De Michelis

Last summer I spent my time volunteering with Voluntary
Service Overseas in Tajikistan through DFID’s International
Citizen Service programme.

The International Citizen Service is funded by the government and sends young people aged 18-25 abroad to work on
voluntary projects for 3 months. The projects are based in 24 of
the poorest countries in the world and volunteers work alongside locals, while living in a local host home. I applied and I was
allocated to work with Voluntary Service Overseas in Tajikistan;
at the time, I didn’t even really know where Tajikistan was!
What is Tajikistan like?

hours, we did what all travellers do and read. Conversation with
locals was difficult as our Russian was limited to a few words
and their English was at best a sentence or two. Either way,
through a combination of hand signals and smiles, there were
times where we did share food with fellow passengers.

It felt surreal to finish such an iconic train route. Our
last week in Russia was spent visiting Moscow and St Petersburg. Both these cities have outstanding beauty in their architecture, notably their metro systems. The Moscow Metro was
built under Stalin’s regime and was designed to be ‘palaces for
the people’. The stations on the circle line consisted of huge well
lit chandeliers, bronze statues and large open rooms, supported
by sweeping arches.

As a trio, we split up on the 31st August in St Petersburg. Our visas were about to expire, and we had achieved
what we set out to do: homeward bound - a journey from East
to West. My travels continued across land into Estonia, allowing me to transport copious amounts of premium vodka into
Europe, bypassing flight rules. I continued up into Finland then
Amsterdam and home to Great Britain. Kevin sat through a 14
hour layover in Stockholm en route to Spain and Cecilia continued into Norway. A total of 63 transportation connections over
approximately 16,500 km, took me from Hong Kong to Great
Britain in 69 days. Even after spending all this time with Kevin,
I can’t wait to see him for our next adventure.

Just west of China and north of Afghanistan, it used to be part
of the Soviet Union and is one of the least visited countries in
the world. It is exceptionally hot in the summer, often hitting
40+ degrees, but plummets to below zero during winter. More
significantly, it is the poorest country in central Asia with an
average income of around £700 a year, compared to the UK
average of £26 000. Furthermore there is vast inequality within
the country; some people struggled to survive, while others
were driving Bentleys.

The language (a dialect of Persian) was difficult but the
local transport was even more of a challenge. The main form of
transport is via ‘meshrutka’ – little minibuses crammed full of
people that take you where you want to go for about 10p a journey. The problem for us was that the routes were never written
down and it was very much just local knowledge of which
combination to take. It was definitely a bit of trial and error for
me in the early days; fortunately for me, the centre of Dushanbe
(the city I stayed in) has one of the biggest flagpoles in the world
at the centre so if in doubt you could always head towards that!
Within a couple of weeks I had learnt enough of the language
to explain where I wanted to go, and to ask which meshrutkas I
should take. I have to say, although hectic, the excitement and
unpredictability of the Dushanbe meshrutkas certainly trumps
the London tube!

Timothy Haughton & Kevin De Michelis

What did we do?

local economy through increasing tourism; this was primarily
through organising an international tourism festival, which
was the main focus of the three months. It was a great handson experience as it required finding sponsorship from local
and overseas businesses and marketing the whole festival. We
sought out dancers, musicians and handicraft sellers from all
over Tajikistan, providing them a chance to sell their crafts at
the festival. With 6000 people attending the festival, it was a
considerable success and hopefully this will be built upon next
year, increasing in size. Aside from this, we carried out various
other projects such as teaching students CV and interview skills
for applying to the various international organisations now
putting down roots in Tajikistan and teaching English language
to schoolchildren.

Living in a host home and working alongside local
volunteers was a fantastic feature of the programme. It gave me
a chance to get to know the local culture properly, learn some of
the language and make really strong friendships. My host family spoke very little English so it encouraged me to learn some
of the language, but also allowed me to teach them some more
English. Sitting down to dinner each evening with a variety of
Tajik, Afghan, Kazakh and Uzbek people was always an intriguing and eye-opening experience.

I had the good fortune to be in Tajikistan during the
festival of Eid. For this 3 day festival I joined my host brother in
visiting over 40 different houses – eating a feast at each one! I
was also invited to join the service at the mosque – an experience that really underlined to me the inclusivity and welcoming
nature of Tajik culture.

Our main aim in the three month programme was to boost the

How can you be involved?
I want to encourage everyone to think about volunteering in the

Palaces to the People - Moscow Metro system.
Photographer: Kevin De Michelis
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future. It broadens your horizons, changes your perspective and
you make some great friends; and it’s also a great thing to have
on your CV. Going with the ICS is a great way to do it too; it is
fully funded by DfID (although you do need to fundraise a donation to the partner agency). They provide a fantastic support
network, working with other British and local volunteers.”
James Kessell
For more information, visit: http://www.volunteerics.org/

My placement in an SOS-Kinderdorf Children’s Village,
Lüdenscheid Germany in April
2014 by Laura Ballantyne
During the Easter holidays of 2014, I was fortunate enough to
be given the opportunity to volunteer at an SOS-Kindorf Village
in the village of Lüdenscheid, Germany. Thanks to the generous
donation of the St Aidan’s travel bursary, I was able to take part
in the incredible work done there for a period of one month.

SOS-Kinderdorf Children’s Villages were founded by
Hermann Gmeiner in Tyrol, Austria, in 1949. Following World
War II, many thousands of children were left orphaned and
Gmeiner, a social worker, vowed to do something to help them.
He wanted to provide these vulnerable children with the same
stability and family values as those growing up in ‘traditional’
families. The first SOS-Children’s Village was founded in Austria and quickly spread worldwide. Today over 82,000 children
and young people in 134 different countries are growing up in a
loving, stable family environment thanks to SOS-Children’s Villages. However their work does not stop there. They also work

alongside families in difficulty, offering counselling, vocational
training and education in order to help them achieve self-reliance, in addition to providing healthcare services to almost one
million further individuals.

My interest in the project was initially based on my
studies in the German department at Durham University.
However, the more I read into the ethos and values of the
SOS-Kinderdorf, the more it appealed to my love of working
with children and young adults. I have worked since becoming a teenager in children’s groups, babysat and have tutored
since passing my GCSE’s. After completing work experience
placements in schools which were more on the ‘difficult’ end
of the spectrum, I thought I was fairly prepared for whatever
the Kinderdorf could throw at me. I duly booked my flights to
Düsseldorf and prepared for several train changes and a serious
German-language immersion.

Upon arriving at the airport, my first challenge was
locating the man who was supposed to be collecting me. Despite numerous phone calls assuring me that he was standing
right by the gate, holding a sign, the empty corridors suggested
otherwise. I finally managed to track him down and we made
our way to the Kinderdorf, which was several kilometres away
from anything. When I asked why, I was told that it was better
for some of the children who had a tendency to run away. With
limited bus timetables, it was difficult for them to get anywhere
before the staff could bring them back. Maybe this would be a
little more difficult than I had imagined.

Challenge number two arose because I arrived on a
Friday night, just after dinner time. With my contracted hours
due to start on Monday, I was left alone in a house in a supermarket-less village only accessible by car. After 2 days of surviving on the remaining apples I had from my journey, I had to get
over my dislike of telephoning people (in German) and call the
man who had picked me up to try and get him to take me to a
supermarket. Once I finally managed to convince him that, no, I
genuinely hadn’t brought food with me, yes, I had been told that
it would be provided, no, I couldn’t drive and yes, I really did
need to get to a supermarket fairly soon, he informed me that
supermarkets were closed on Sundays. Culture shock number
one.

It was, therefore, with some degree of hunger and
agitation that I started my first day on Monday. I hadn’t really
been given many instructions on what I would be doing, only
that I should be at reception at 9am. Upon arrival, I found that
I had been assigned to a Familienhaus, containing two sets of
the youngest children in the project. The Children’s Village
is arranged in two levels of care. The premise of the project
is to provide children with as much of a family experience as
possible, so most children live in a traditional home environment with one dedicated ‘parent’. This person (usually a woman,

although some men do choose to take on the role as well) dedicates their entire life to living full-time in the house along with
the children, taking on the role of their parent until the child
reaches maturity. Some children, however, only stay for a short
time in the Children’s Village. In the case of the parent falling ill,
the event of mistreatment or any other situation which results
in the child being unable to stay with their family, they can be
taken in by the Children’s Village. These children live in different houses, with a team of carers who change during the week.

Working in the Familienhaus was a wonderful experience. I was thrown in at the deep end on my first day and
told I would be left alone with the two youngest children who
were away from school sick because the house ‘mother’ had
some meetings for the next couple of hours. This truly tested
my patience and enthusiasm levels; they refused point blank
any activity I proposed to them. Even to this day hearing ‘neuh’
brings back memories! Despite this, I bonded quickly with the
children. During my month-long stay, we undertook many activities together, from animal parks to tree-climbing to origami.
I was even invited to accompany the children and house mother
on their holiday to Holland. This was probably the time when I
learned the most about dealing with troubled children.

Despite an excellent start to the trip, it ended badly.
One of the children fell whilst playing in the playground and
badly broke her arm. The house mother had to take her to
hospital and I was left with the others. I can honestly say that
until that point I had never fully understood just how important
routine is to children. Although I can’t give any exact details
of the children’s past due to privacy issues, I can say that the
children in this particular house have a very complicated past.
Abuse and abandonment feature heavily. So seeing their sister
with a broken arm and then being left behind while she was
taken away obviously stirred up some bad memories for them.
Dealing with this, while trying to distract them from the problem at hand and maintain the strict discipline they were used to
tested me to the limit. I learned a lot from it though.

I learned how much time and energy goes into raising
children and running a household at the same time. I learned
the importance of routine and respecting a child’s feelings as
much as my own. But most importantly, I learned about my
own limits and how much simple actions can impact on others.
Working with children with troubled pasts is difficult. They
seem completely normal but then even a small word or gesture
can bring back bad memories. SOS-Kinderdorf has an excellent
support system of psychologists and regular meetings. They truly work with and for the benefit of each and every child in their
care. Even though the main purpose of my visit was to set up an
English library for the children and to perhaps improve my own
German at the same time, I feel like I gained much more than
that. Thank you to all involved in the bursary scheme who made

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this possible.
Laura Ballantyne

Neuroscience in fruit flies, Beijing 2014
In the summer of 2014 I spent an amazing six weeks working in a neuroscience lab
in Beijing. This trip was part of an internationalisation scheme offered by the School
of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, which sends six Durham students around the
world to experience scientific research in different countries. During the trip I stayed
at the Institute of Biophysics in the Chaoyang District of Beijing, along with another
Durham student, Lydia, who was studying in the same institute.
Why I wanted to go on this trip
For a long time I have had aspirations to become a research scientist, ever since my
first taste of research labs in Manchester University when I was 15. While studying
biology and psychology as part of my degree I soon became interested in neuroscience, investigating the bridge between neurones and synapses and the mind. As well
as having a penchant for neuroscientific research I have also always enjoyed travelling
and immersing myself in other cultures. While trekking in both the Sahara Desert and
the Jotunheimen mountain range in Norway while I was at school, the travelling bug
was truly caught. As such, this opportunity was a perfect way for me to combine my
aspirations to study neuroscience with my love of travelling.

Me and Lydia on the Great
Wall
experiments and compare the signals to
the baseline data I produced.
An average weekday
Throughout my trip I was living in guest
accommodation within the institute.
Here I was a five minute walk away from
the canteen and even closer to my lab. I
would go to breakfast with Lydia, which
would usually consist of Baozi- large
dumplings stuffed with beef/pork. After
this I would be in the lab by 9 am to start
the day.

My supervisor wouldn’t normally get into the lab until 10, so this gave
me some time to read papers or to write
notes on the experimental techniques I
was learning. When Xiaonan arrived I
would start working on the experiment.
On a Monday, for example I would make
the electrodes I would be using through-

What I was working on
The lab that I worked in specialises in neural circuitry in the model organism
Drosophila (fruit flies), using novel techniques to map specific behaviours to certain
neuronal pathways. It was a relatively small lab of about 20 people, the majority of
whom were masters or PhD students, and all of them were happy to welcome me into
their work and help me whenever they could. Upon my arrival I was assigned a supervisor, Xiaonan, to work with on my main project. Her work involved using electrophysiology experiments to analyse signals within the fly brain.

The main project that I focused on during my stay was testing and gathering
data from a new kind of micro electrode, which a partner lab within the institute had
developed. This new type of electrode was smaller than those that came before, which
meant it was more accurate and minimised the trauma to the fly brains…however it
also was much more difficult to use! As this electrode had only recently been developed there was not much baseline data of the fly brain to compare to. This is where
my project came in. By taking multiple measurements of the brain signals of the flies
during normal conditions it enabled other researchers using the electrode to perform

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Me with my supervisor, Xiaonan

The bench where I would
work at
out the week. These consisted of two 12
micrometer wires twisted together. As
these are thinner than a strand of hair
it made the construction process very
difficult- one slip and the wires would
break! Having produced the electrodes I
would usually just have time before lunch
to prepare some flies for testing.

Lunch was a large meal in the
canteen with most of the lab members
attending, nuomi (glutinous rice) with
szechuan chicken was a personal favourite. The afternoon would entail inserting
the electrodes into the fly brains under a
microscope and analysing the recorded
signals. This was another tricky procedure as the fly had to be alive for the
experiment (don’t worry the flies were
encoded with the painless mutation so
didn’t feel pain) and although glued and
held in place by special platforms, getting
the electrode through their exoskeleton
was difficult.

Around 6 pm the whole lab
would go out to dinner together, invariably to one of the local restaurants. As
everyone was eager for me to experience
Chinese cuisine from all their home
regions I went to a variety of different
places- ranging from the self proclaimed
“best dumpling shop in Beijing” to a
donkey meat restaurant that, as the name
suggests, only served donkey dishes.

After dinner we would return to
the lab. If I had finished my experiments
for the day this would be the time I could
help other lab members, enabling me
to have an insight into what they were

A donkey meat stew

required very steady hands and an ability
to manipulate forceps under a microscope, something that I will invariably
be required to do throughout a scientific
career in neuroscience.

Being able to immerse myself in
Chinese culture was something that I will
never forget. While on a standard holiday
one might stay in a hotel with western
influences apparent and visit the main
tourist attractions; but as I was actually
working in the city I lived as any other
citizen of Beijing for six weeks- eating the
same foods, working the same hours and
even having to eat everything with chopsticks (I had to learn very quickly). I also
will never forget some of the places I was
able to visit, the Great Wall of China was
certainly one highlight of my trip, and
standing on Jingshan Hill looking over
the Forbidden City was awe-inspiring.

However, I feel one of the most
important things that I will take away
from my stay are the relationships I
made. It never failed to amaze me how
accommodating everyone was. Despite
the high workload of the members of my
lab they were all eager to let me take part
and answer the many questions I asked of
them. For some of them they saw me as
an opportunity to test their spoken English (which most of them were fluent in),
but I felt it was more than just that- they
saw me as their guest and as such would
do everything they could to make me feel
welcome. Even when out in the city in the
areas that see fewer westerners, we were
stopped in the street by people asking for
photos with us- not something that I am
used to.

This amazing trip would not
have been possible if it weren’t for the
travel bursary I received from college. I
hope I have demonstrated in this report
just how much I have taken from this
experience and how it has broadened me
as a person. So thank you for enabling me
to do this.

The Forbidden City
The Bird’s Nest Stadium in the
Olympic Green
working on. Due to this I managed to
work on a multitude of projects throughout my stay, ranging from purely behavioural experiments- such as a swim test,
which rather morbidly tests the mood of
a fly by its will to fight to survive when
floating in water, to brain imaging experiments- the best of which was when I was
allowed to use the electron microscope
worth over £1 million to image slices of a
fly brain I had produced.

Most days I would leave the
lab at around 10pm. A 13 hour day may
seem rather extreme but it was rather unimpressive compared to everyone else in
the lab. My supervisor would quite often
go home at 10 for 2 hours to shower and
nap while waiting for an experiment to
run, then return to the lab and work until
4 in the morning!
It wasn’t all work though

ed many other of the sites in Beijing on
the other weekends including the temple
of Confucious, Beijing Zoo and even
spent a whole day going to visit the Great
Wall which was a 3 hour journey away
from the institute.
What I took away
I believe that this trip was a perfect way
to travel, killing two birds with one stone
in that it provided me with lab experience that will be invaluable to me for
my research career, while also enabling
me to travel to an amazing city and get a
view of it from a truly local perspective.
The experimental techniques that I learnt
were beyond anything I had been able to
do previously, having the freedom to use
an entire lab of equipment for my own
experiments. Not only did I learn a range
of different techniques, such as using
software to sort out and analyse the data I
produced, but also I was able to reinforce
more basic lab techniques. For example, I
spent two days learning how to dissect a
fly brain, which at 300 micrometers wide

Although on weekdays there was little
time for exploring, on weekends members of the lab were all very enthusiastic
to show me and Lydia around Beijing. So
eager in fact that each of our labs took
turns to take us out at weekends. I think
going with people who lived in Beijing
and knew the city well made visiting the
sites a lot more fun and gave us a better
experience of the city as a whole. As with
the lab work the sightseeing was intensein the first weekend we saw the Forbidden City, Jingshan Park, the Summer
Temple and the Olympic Park- home to
the famous bird’s nest stadium. We visit-

A view from atop the Summer
Palace

Llywelyn Lee

Miranda Nixon goes
to Prague
Earlier this summer I travelled to Prague
with St Chad’s College Chapel choir
on their annual choir tour. I have been
singing with Chad’s since I first arrived at
Durham- singing in a church choir has
always been a big part of my life. Having
this stretch of time to spend with just the
other choir members has really helped to

Some of the members of my
lab on a day out to Yuanmingyuan Park
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bring the choir together as an ensemble,
partially through the high concentration
of concerts and services, but also simply
by solidifying friendships through spending more free time together.

Whilst there, I was lucky enough
to have friends who also wanted to prioritise seeing all the sights we could. We
therefore got up extremely early on the
first morning and saw the Charles bridge
before the throngs of tourists hit, a very
calm and beautiful sight, before heading
up to the castle for its opening time. I
particularly enjoyed looking around the
cathedral- it is visible from across the city
and up close it makes for a very impressive sight, complete with flying buttresses.
The inside was far more plain than I had
been expecting given the ornate exterior,
but this was mad up for by some incredible modern stained glass (see picture).
Having the chance just to stand there and
gaze at the windows was very special and
really made the cathedral feel like a holy
space.!

With our other big section of
free time, we spent some time looking
around Prague’s Jewish quarter. There
are a number of interesting synagogues
and mini-museums, but there were two
standout sections for me. One was the
Spanish Synagogue, famed for good reason. The interior was ornately decorated
with Moorish designs and felt spiritual to
me in a similar way to the Cathedral. It
was a new feeling to be in a different religion’s worship space and to feel the same
feeling as in a church, one which I found
very thought- provoking. The other highlight of the Jewish quarter was the Holocaust memorial/ museum that they had.
The section which I found most moving
was a selection of children’s drawings that
had been done in a concentration camp.
They drew their surroundings in quite a
factual way which really made it hit home
that this was their life and death and
destruction was all they saw on a daily

basis.

Another good thing involved
with being on tour is the communal
meals. Each evening we split into small
groups and wandered around the town
centre finding a restaurant that looked
good (and wasn’t too touristy!). We tried
to stick to traditional Czech cuisine,
highlights of which included goulash
(sometimes served in a loaf of bread),
deep-fried Camembert, and special potato pancakes. The one downside is that
Czech cuisine notably lacks fresh fruit
and vegetables- something we craved
even after only a few days.

The best restaurant I went to, as
is often the case, looked the most dubious. A group of us followed signs down
smaller and smaller side streets until we
found a quite a small place with a great
atmosphere and wonderful food which
gradually filled up with locals as the
evening went on.

Obviously the true focus of the
trip was the music, and we managed to
pack singing two concerts and two services into the three and a half days that
we had actually in Prague.

The music list focussed on various great English composers, including
Byrd, Tallis and Batten. My favourites of
the pieces we sang over the course of the
tour were the Stanford motets- Coelos
Ascendit, Beati Quorum Via and Justorum Animae. There is a two choir effect
in Coelos Ascendit that worked especially
well in the large echoey spaces we were
lucky enough to perform in.

Our first musical fixture was
singing at a Sunday mass in Czech at the
Church of the Holiest Heart. This was
definitely out of my choral comfort zone,
as we had no order of services and really
had very little idea of where we were in
the service- we just stood up and sang
something whenever the priest gave
us a significant nod! The architecture
of the church was nothing like I had
seen before, the architect was inspired
by Egyptian temples which should give
some idea of the look... The acoustic,

however, was wonderful, and the service
went extremely well.

One lovely lady came up to us
afterwards and said she felt like she was
in heaven with the angels when we were
singing. She then proceeded to find out
when our concerts were and come to
both of them- a big confidence boost.

Our next stop was to sing at the
Sunday morning mass at the Anglican
church. This was a much smaller church,
but had an equally enthusiastic congregation and good acoustic. It felt slightly
strange to be at a very normal Anglican,
even provincial feeling eucharist in the
middle of Prague, complete with prayers
said for a friend of the priest’s wife and
drinks and cakes afterwards! This provided a good chance to chat to some of them
and to hear about what brought them to
Prague.

Our final two musical events
were concerts, the first being sung in the
Greek/Catholic Cathedral. This was long
and highly baroque so a great venue, but
with an initially very minimal audience.
We decided to go out and sing on the
street just outside the Cathedral to promote the concert, which did attract more
people. The concert itself went really well,
I felt like the choir really bonded over
the experience of singing for an audience
which is something we don’t usually do
as a chapel choir.

The next day we sang our
second, and final, concert at St Nicholas
Old Church which is on on of the main
squares. As a result this concert had
larger audience, and paired with a great
acoustic and the desire to sing well for
the last gig of the tour, the concert went
even better than the day before. As we
sang the last piece of the concert, View
me Lord (Lloyd), there were lots of teary
members of the choir, especially those
who were leaving and for whom this
would be the final tour. I think that the
level of attachment shown to the choir by
the finalists every year is a good indication of how important the choir is to
it’s members, and how close you end up

feeling to the other singers.

Going on the tour was an
enriching experience for me in terms
of the music and the locations we were
able to sing at, as well as spending time
with good friends and developing new
friendships. Thank you for allowing me
this opportunity through giving me the
Duerden award, I’m already looking
forward to next years choir tour!
Miranda Nixon

Tanvir Ahmad reports on his visit to
Pakistan

I travelled to Pakistan in order to increase
awareness of renewable energy systems
and encourage female students to pursue
higher education opportunities. My PhD
research is related to wind energy and is
sponsored by the commonwealth scholarship commission (CSC) UK. Currently,
very few people are willing to visit Pakistan because of the issue with law and
order and political instability. However,
being a Pakistani, I always feel a responsibility to help other Pakistani students and
researchers who are currently studying in
Pakistani universities. This visit had two
main purposes.
1. Increasing awareness about research in
renewable energy, especially wind energy
2. Motivate and inform students (especially female students) about higher
education, research and scholarships
opportunities
I was awarded the Clark Travel Scholarship to conduct this visit. It was
co-funded by the Durham University
International Office, as I was appointed
as Durham University Student Ambassador for Pakistan. The Director of the
International Office at Durham University, Sharne Procter, was very helpful in
arranging this tour. She contacted universities and colleges in Pakistan about my
visit and we had a very positive response
from these institutions. The plan was to
have seminars and lectures in universities
and colleges.

After much planning I left for
Pakistan on 24th September. I was really
happy as I had the feeling that I was
giving something back to the people who
are suffering a lot due to terrorism and
the huge energy crisis in the country. I
reached Pakistan on 25th September.

I chose universities and colleges in the
North West of the country. This part of
Pakistan, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province near the border of Afghanistan, is
badly affected by terrorism. I visited the
University of Engineering & Technology
Peshawar, Pakistan, first. I did my undergraduate and masters in engineering
from this university. I was overwhelmed
by the response from students and teachers there. I presented my research and the
opportunities at Durham University for
students and researchers. The next day,
I visited two more universities. I shared
my experience of studying abroad with
students - I enjoyed these two days very
much. Interaction with students was an
amazing experience. I could feel that
students were getting something from
these seminars. They also discussed their
projects with me.

On 1st October, I went to
Islamabad, the capital city. I visited three
universities there. Again it was a wonderful experience. I was invited to the
weekly faculty lunch of National University of Science & Technology (NUST
Islamabad). This university is in the top
500 in world rankings. We arranged three
different seminars there. Dr. Raza Kazmi,
Assistant Professor in NUST, was very
helpful here. Overall, I visited 7 universities and was engaged in 7 seminars about
research and scholarship opportunities in
renewable energy systems. I had meetings with faculty members with the agenda of increasing collaboration between
Durham University and universities in
Pakistan.

After these visits I decided to
concentrate specifically on female education. Again, the aim was to visit colleges
and meet female students and encourage
them to pursue higher education. It’s
not that easy for a male to visit a female
college in that part of the world due to
social norms. That’s why I decided to seek
help from my cousin Saima Rahim. She is
a successful banker, currently working as
a General Manager in Human Resources at the National Bank of Pakistan in
the Peshawar region. I had a discussion
with her about her outstanding career in
a male dominant society. She said that
parents’ support and motivation is very
important for females to excel in such a
society. Saima is an active social worker
and she was more than happy to help
me. She introduced me to the Secretary
of the Higher Education Commission
(HEC), Mrs Farah Hamid Khan, and the
Additional Secretary, Dr. Khalid Khan.

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They appreciated my ideas and arranged
a seminar for me in Frontier College for
Women, Peshawar. I offered Durham
University diaries to these three very
helpful people as gifts from the university.

I visited Frontier College on
14th October. The Principal and other
faculty members welcomed me there and
introduced me to the students. I delivered a lecture on research opportunities
for Master and PhD studies and how to
apply for these opportunities. The audience was made up of faculty members
and undergraduate final year students. I
thought that it would be a bit boring for
the students but they were very willing to
learn and listen to my lecture. After the
lecture I met the topper of BS Economics
Mehwish Naz and Sehrish Hidayat.
These two are outstanding students and
are still in contact with me about their
final year projects. I am guiding them
and some other students to apply for
scholarships. I am hopeful that they will
join Durham University for a Masters
and PhD in the future. Some faculty
members who want to improve their
qualifications also discussed different
issues with me. Luckily, I had some gifts
for the students in the shape of Durham
University diaries and pens, provided
by the International Office. The students
were very happy on receiving these gifts.

With some help from Saima, I
visited another college in Peshawar which
is called the Peshawar Model Degree College. I met some pre-engineering students
and discussed issues related to engineering with them. I gave pens to the students
as gifts from Durham University. I had a
discussion with the Principal and she was
of the opinion that we should have more
activities like this in the future.

I came back to Durham on 18th
October having spent 21 days full of
fun in Pakistan. It was a very busy tour
but looking at the outcomes, I wish I
could stay longer and discuss more with
these students and faculty members.
This was an opportunity for me to bring
something positive about my country. I
am very happy that all the students and
people like Saima helped me to make this
tour a successful one. This tour gave me a
new dimension to serve the society. I am
planning to have the same kind of tour
next year where I would try to engage
more students focusing mainly on female
students.
Tanvir Ahmad

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My experience of
Slovakia by Rebecca
Wall
This summer I was part of a small team
of students and young professionals
travelling to Slovakia to lead and teach on
an English language Christian camp for
Slovakian and Hungarian teenagers from
the local area. Through partnership with
the Slovakian church and joining a group
of native Hungarian-speaking translators,
the aim of this camp was to help these
teenagers have a week of fun where they
could improve and practise their English
and develop both personally and spiritually through language lessons, talks,
discussions, games, crafts, and other
interactive activities. My involvement in
this camp was supported by the Duerden
Award which is part of the St Aidan’s
Travel Fund. The following report details
what the camp involved and the learning
outcomes of the camp for both the teenagers attending and myself.
Where was the camp?
The camp was based in Farnad, a small
Slovakian farming village in the Levice
District in Slovakia. It has a population
of approximately 1, 440 people of which
roughly 77% are Hungarian and 23% are
Slovakian. The village is off the ‘tourist
map’ and so there is little in the way of
public facilities or activities for the teenagers. Although many of the teenagers
from Farnad have long summer holidays
they explained to us there is little for
them to be involved in. English is taught
in schools by rote-learning meaning that
the Slovakian teenagers have not had
much opportunities to advance their conversational language. Despite this, there
is much enthusiasm to learn! Although
it is such a small village. several churches
exist. However, their attendance is minimal and there are no activities or events
for young people.
What did it involve?
The camp ran for one week with a full-on

daily schedule that balanced learning and
fun activities. The theme of the week was
‘Detectives’ with a particular emphasis
on Sherlock Holmes which was brought
into many activities. Days would begin
with singing where we learnt some songs
in English, and later in Hungarian, that
would be sung at the afternoon meetings.
Some of the teenagers had come on the
camp in previous years and they loved
singing some of the familiar songs and
requesting their favourites! Following
this, there was a team activity challenge
before beginning the day’s English
lessons. The teenagers were divided into
three classes of varying abilities based on
an English test from the start of the week.
Each class was led by two teachers and
lessons were a combination of speaking,
reading, writing and listening activities.
As well as these, each class worked on
a simple comedy sketch that would be
performed to the rest of the camp at the
‘talent show evening’ on the penultimate night. This was a great opportunity
to practise clear and understandable
pronunciation and, with many props
and costumes, brought much enjoyment
to all those involved in the process. The
afternoons consisted of many fun activities, which included craft making, sports,
games and baking as well as cultural activities such as a Hungarian dance show
and a village tour by some of the local
families. Additionally there were daily
‘detective themed’ meetings which involved a short talk considering the claims
of the Christian faith followed by discussion groups which gave the teenagers
an opportunity to discuss what they had
heard openly and share their thoughts
and opinions with one another. Evenings
were packed with group activities including a wide game, a film night, a talent
show and a ‘Murder mystery evening’
where the English team performed a
short play and through different rounds
of scenes and questions, the audience
tried to work out who the murderer was.
Aside from these activities, we enjoyed
getting to know the teenagers by sharing
meals together and living alongside one
another for the week. As a leader on the
camp, I was responsible for teaching an

English class, organising the singing and
running several of the activities, including the wide game, baking and craft.
Learning outcomes
It was encouraging to see the progression
of the teenagers throughout the week.
Most notably this was seen in their drama
pieces, where even those who had been
very shy and hesitant to engage in conversational English were able to perform
to the rest of the group. Furthermore, as
the week progressed, the teenagers were
more open to share their thoughts and
opinions in the discussion groups and, as
time was spent with one another, it was
evident that friendships were forming.
Many of those who attended the camp
have little in the way of resources, so it
was clear that they enjoyed involvement
in the variety of activities that the week
held, as well as the sense of community
that was created.

I also found it personally developing to be involved in another culture
and live alongside teenagers who have
an entirely different background from
myself yet who I could get to know, encourage and enjoy the week with. It was a
great experience to be able to help them
improve their English, learn more about
the Christian faith and to ensure that
they had a week that is both informative,
transformative and fun!
What’s next for Farnad?
The camps run on an annual basis and
many of the teenagers come back every
year. While the week offered the teenagers many opportunities that they are not
usually exposed to, the organisers are
very conscious that there is still much
need throughout the year. It was great,

therefore, that over half of the team
consisted of Hungarian and Slovakian
students and young professionals who
were able to see the activities run on
camp and discuss ideas with each other,
with the English team and with the local
community, of how they may be able to
carry on similar events throughout the
year. I hope to return next year to Farnad
to continue playing a part in the camps,
as it was a fantastic experience for myself,
the teenagers and all those involved!

that I needed. Bed sheets, for example,
seemed to be non-existent. Luckily my
mum had come with me to help me settle
in, and together we managed to eventually get sorted. I met new people immediately; the Erasmus team at my host
University, Uniwersytet Jagielloński, had
organised a fool proof week of bonding.
I didn’t meet anyone from Britain in
those first couple of weeks, and I found
that I eventually started to pay a lot more
attention to the words that I said, in
order to accommodate everyone who was
speaking English as a second language.

I travelled all around Poland,
and even had the chance to go to Berlin
in Germany with the Erasmus team. I
experienced traditional highlander food
and entertainment in Zakopane, the
crazy Christmas ambiance of Warsaw, the
beautifully quaint seaside port of Gdańsk,
the wonderfully picturesque Wrocław,
and so many other places. I made it my
mission to travel almost every weekend,
and I’m so very glad that I did. Travelling
around Poland was cheap and easy - I
certainly miss it now that I’m home and
have to dip into my overdraft to get the
train to an adjacent town.

Whilst travelling I learned so
much more about the War; I studied
Modern History in college, and thought
I knew a lot already, but being in Poland was a completely new perspective,
particularly in Krakow and in Warsaw. I
visited many museums; the most poignantly moving was the Uprising Museum
in Warsaw, and I would recommend
anyone visiting to go, because it certainly
was spectacular. Touring the Kazimierz
district of Krakow with a professional
guide was probably one of my favourite

Rebecca Wall

Rhiann McAlister
recounts her time
spent in Poland
In September 2014 I took on the challenge of living in a completely different
country; I didn’t speak the language,
I didn’t know what to expect from the
environment, and the culture was so
very different. I didn’t really have any
preconceived notions of Poland, especially Krakow. I hadn’t ever met anyone
from Poland, nor had I any idea about
what the language sounded like. Before
I embarked on my journey I had heard
little about Polish customs; obviously I
researched as much as possible in order
to prepare. Krakow seemed to be a very
popular destination for students travelling around Europe, and after living there
for three months, I began to understand
why. It wasn’t just for the astonishingly
cheap beer and vodka - or piwo and
wodka in Polish – though that was
probably one of the main incentives for
many young people. Krakow has beauty, culture, and history. It is a uniquely
attractive place, and a rather strange
environment because it’s a huge city, but
it feels so safe. The city is always alive – if
you want a full meal of pierogi at 4am,
you have a few options to choose from. I
lived on my own in a completely different

country, far away from my friends and
family, and maintained a long distance
relationship on top of that. Not to mention the entirely new way of teaching that
I had to get accustomed to, and being
around people from all over Europe
that had a completely different sense of
humour and way of thinking than I was
used to.

Everything was new, and I felt
like I was starting from scratch – which,
albeit, was refreshing. I was completely
out of my comfort zone, and, to be quite
honest, I was scared. I had always wanted
to live in a different country, and I knew
that travelling was something that would
open my eyes to the world - but at the
beginning of my experience I felt like I
had jumped off of a cliff, and that I was
stuck in the process of falling. My first
year at Durham had been incredible, I
don’t think I had ever been happier – but
a lot changed before going into second
year, and I needed something new. In
Krakow I travelled a lot, I spent a lot
of time reading, I explored the area, I
learned so much more about World War
Two, I picked up some of the language
and I heard a lot about the cultures of the
different places in Europe from my new
friends. I absorbed as much as I could in
three months, and I let myself fall into
this new world. For me, this experience
was a huge challenge, but it was also
invaluable, and I feel like my growth as a
person is incalculable.

My first few days in Poland were
awful; after having slept for a total of
one and a half hours, I had been seated
next to the most awful man in the world
on my flight, during the day I was fined
120zl (around £30) for not having a ticket
on the tram – despite there being no
possible way to purchase a ticket, but to
the three large men that escorted me off
‘that was not their problem’ – I was living
alone in a tiny apartment and I couldn’t
find anywhere at all to buy the things

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activities; our tour guide was incredibly
enthusiastic, but he was also really cool
and looked like some alternate universe,
Polish Danny Zucko. Kazimierz was the
Jewish district, but in 1941 Polish Jews
were forcibly moved to the Krakow ghetto in Podgórze by the German occupying
forces. Now Kazimierz is recognised as
the trendy area of Krakow, with the coolest and quirkiest bars and cafes – but the
history is so very prominent and eerie.
It truly is a very special place. Seeing the
Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie were
also both precious experiences for me.

I lived in a small apartment
by myself, and this ended up being just
fine for my needs. Had I stayed for a
full semester like everyone else, I could
have stayed in an apartment with other
students – but it was simply impossible
to share a flat for only three months. It
seemed that every apartment I visited
was excessively large; the buildings were
old and musty, but the space was incredible. Most of my friends even had two
double beds in their rooms – completely
unnecessary, but kind of amazing too. I
lived near to the main square, whereas
most other people lived in Kazimierz;

but this was fine with me, because I was
within walking distance of everything.
Everything except my lectures that is,
that were half an hour away by tram to
a completely different district on the
outskirts of Krakow. It seems the Jagiellonian University had two campuses – and
my course was just one of the lucky ones
that took place as far away as possible.
Regardless, the trams were easy. The public transport was incredible – besides the
terrifying, plain-clothed ticket officers,
who made your heart race and your
palms sweat even when you did have a
valid ticket. The trams and buses were always on time, and they were so frequent
that you didn’t even bother sprinting if
you saw your tram approaching – if you
missed it, there would be another one
along in five minutes. It was aboard the
tram that I learned one of the most vital
phrases in Polish: ‘przepraszam’, meaning
‘excuse me’ or ‘sorry’.

I met so many people from all
over the world, and they taught me so
much about their own cultures and were
so very interested to hear about mine.

One of the best things I did in Krakow
was partake in the ESN band; there
were about twenty of us, all of us playing different instruments, making up a
ragtag bundle of different small bands,
each alternating for different songs. We
performed a concert in front of all of
the other Erasmus students in a club in
December, and it was the most incredible
and energetic performance I had ever
been part of. It really was amazing.

Now I’ll come to the most
important part: the food. Polish meals
seemed to be based mainly on potatoes,
meat and cabbage. My favourite – and
most frequently devoured – dishes
were pierogi and bigos, but there was so
much more to choose from, and I tried
everything I could get my hands on. It
seemed that the food has so much more
flavour – I began to understand why
international students that come over
to Britain are so disappointed with our
cuisine. What was so great about it was
that everything was cheap; I didn’t pay
more than 25zl for a meal, so around
£5 (and that’s an expensive meal). I also
found myself in some of the coolest bars
and cafes I had ever even imagined;
there’s so much opportunity in Krakow
to try something different, and there
are limitless places to choose from. Not
to mention, if you’re a fan of beer it’s
available all day everyday, and someone
drinking a tall glass of piwo at ten o’clock
in the morning was something that I
witnessed frequently – no one judges and
it sets you back about £1. Incredible. The
Christmas market in particular was an
amazing source of new food – not only
was the entire city smothered in bright,
shining lights and a light dusting of pure
white snow, but the air was filled with
the sumptuous smell of roasting meat,
toasting cheese, and spiced, mulled wine.

My absolutely favourite place
was a cafe that had been a brothel in the
twentieth century. The decor was insane;
there were parrots hanging from the
ceiling, gaudy curtains draped across the
doors, and there was a theatre down a
spiral staircase, which showed different
shows every Friday. Plus, the cake was to

doing made somewhat more possible by a
generous grant from the St. Aidan’s Leslie
Clark Travel Award.
Bustling Bangkok

die for. My mum really enjoyed it too, as
you can see from the picture – we were
even sat on a platform next to the big bay
window, which we found quite hilarious
considering the building’s history.

There is so much more to say
about my time in Poland – most of it
I’m not sure I can even put into words.
I’m frustrated that I can’t express every
single one of my memories in the way
that I would like to. Krakow will now
always be a part of me; I feel like I could
return there in twenty years and still
know where to go and how to react to
the environment. In fact, I find that I am
excited to return and let all of my memories flood back. I’m glad to be home and
back to normality, but I’m also glad that I
decided this was a challenge that I could
succeed in. I came away from Krakow
with excellent marks in my exams, and
I felt that my lecturers were impressed
with my work and my contributions to
their classes. Altogether, living, studying
and surviving in Krakow has brought
me a great sense of pride. I achieved
something really incredible in Poland,
and I could not be more satisfied with my
experience.
Rhiann McAlister

Travel Report
for receiving the
Aidan’s Leslie Clark
Travel Award by the
now Diver, Mahout,
Trekker and Dam
Builder, Arron Briddick
Thailand in Short
There really is too much to talk about
in a short essay describing the month I
spent travelling in this beautiful South
East Asian country, and as much as it is a
cliché, it was a mind-opening experience
doing things I’d never even imagined

The bustle of Bangkok was first, exploring some of the more ‘touristy’ things
the capital has to offer. The day began by
taking a long-tail boat, known as a Ruea
Hang Tao in the Thai language around
most of the city’s waterways, getting a
glimpse of the staggering temples and
monuments that populate the capital.
We visited the religious sites of Wat Po
and Wat Arun first, each place scattered
with glittering statues and sacred figures,
before moving on to the most famous of
Thai temples, the Grand Palace. (Shown
in pictures) Here it truly becomes apparent how faith flows through the veins
of almost every Thai person and how
deep-rooted it is in their history, with
95% of the population being Buddhist.
The temples are a divine place where Thai
citizens come to worship regularly.

Some breath-taking sights are
to be seen at these locations, from giant
golden stupas that have been erected to
commemorate fallen Kings from hundreds of years ago to the famous ‘reclining Buddha’, an enormous 43m long
golden statue representing the historical
Buddha during his last illness. Considered the epicentre of worship within
these sites are the so called ‘tombs’, here
an image of Buddha sits atop a tremendously decorated shrine below which
the ashes of past kings are kept. The
remains of King Rama I who established
the Chakri Dynasty (a dynasty that still
reigns today) in 1782 are kept under the
highest of esteem.

Grand Palace

Volunteering
Next stop was the idyllic island of Koh Samui where we were dropped in to our first day of volunteering. As part of the Green
Island Foundation Thailand which is a project commissioned by the King of Thailand to build over 1,800 ‘check dams’ that are desperately needed in Thailand. The dams, made of stones found nearby and cement mixed by the project workers have the important
function of controlling the flow of the rivers during heavy rainfall. During the rainy season, without these woodland barriers, the
rain water flows freely down the mountains causing landslide damage to agricultural plots. It took the group of 12 around 4 hours
to complete a dam, which involved the locating of sufficiently sized rocks, carrying the 50kg bags of cement to the river bed and
mixing the cement. The effort we made seemed to be greatly appreciated by the people overseeing the project and their thanks was

Charming Chiang-Mai
After departing from the capital an
8-hour coach ride was endured to reach
the northern district of Chiang-Mai if the beauty of Thailand had not yet
became apparent, here is where it truly
did. The first few days were spent helping
take care of the gentle giants of Asia – the
elephants. Getting to know these charming mammals over the course of the
time spent here has been one of the most
valued experiences of my life, not only
do you get an idea of the sheer power
of these animals but also their kind and
loving nature. Travelling with a group
mainly consisting of girls, I was shunted
to the front when the time came to be

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Tomb of King Rama I

thrown in at the deep end with learning the commands used to control (or attempt to control) the jungle giants.

There is no elephant hazard perception test or multiple choice theory exam to sit for you to be able to ride an elephant, a
simple 2 minute run through the words the elephants would respond to was all that was given to become a qualified ‘mahout’ or
‘elephant rider’. After climbing aboard I realised the only command my brain had retained, most likely out of pure fear, was ‘how’
or ‘stop’ in elephant. But I needn’t have feared as the animals raise you up with utmost care and strength that you instantly feel
comfortable, I had harboured some concern that sitting atop these huge mammals may inflict some pain on them but after being
thrown effortlessly from their trunk in to the river their monumental power was more than apparent. Helping to bathe, feed and
simply get acquainted with these beautiful beasts has been one of the most heart-warming things I have done to date, they say
elephants are intelligent but you really got a feel that you were looking in to the eyes of a human being, with real thoughts and emotions, rather than just an animal.

Next on the agenda was two days of trekking into the vast outstretch of jungle and mountains, stopping to swim in some
of the picturesque waterfalls and take in some of the amazing scenery Thailand has to offer. Once we reached our destination we
stayed in a local village and were cooked meals and well looked after by some of the native Thai peoples, as well as offered what
they termed ‘happy water’ whilst sat around a campfire listening to them play string instruments and sing. We could only presume
happy water to be a home-brew rice wine of a significant percentage after feeling the effects from a few cups. After doing several
other activities in Chiang Mai including bamboo rafting, zip-lining, white water rafting, visiting Tiger Kingdom and the booming
night markets it was time to head to the ancient city of Ayutthaya and beyond to our first Thai island, Koh Samui, where the volunteering project was situated.

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to see what else Koh Phangan had to offer, and we were not disappointed. One of my favourite spots of Thailand, if not one of my
favourite spots I have ever been too, was the Amsterdam bar. This restaurant/bar gifted the most picturesque sunset I have seen to
date. Looking out over a vast stretch of water the colours seen in the sky as the sun went down appeared almost false, as if they were
from someone’s ‘idea’ of paradise, not an existing place. We could not help but come here the next night and see it all over again - of
course, after spending a day face-planting water at the Phangan Total Wipeout, a nice relaxing sunset and a couple of cold drinks is
well deserved.

Re-telling my tales of Thailand has been a pleasure and I could go on writing this forever as there is so much I have yet to
mention, but I’ll finish by thanking St. Aidan’s and the Leslie Clark Travel Award for aiding me in making some ever-lasting memories.

increasing the funding the school receives and help to make the
time the children spend there more enjoyable and fulfilling.
Koh Toa & Koh Phangan
On to the final stretch of the trip, the next place we stopped at
was the smaller, but no less beautiful island of Koh Toa. Famous
for its scenic, and frankly dirt cheap diving it would have been
a crime to miss out on the opportunity to learn to dive in and
around some of Thailand’s world famous coral reefs. The 3
open water dives I did allowed me to see yet another side to
this South East Asian country, inhabited by hundreds of species
of coral fish and other sea-life the sites we saw at the bottom
of the see were too great that I could not begin to do it justice
in a report of my travels. One highlight I will mention is lying
on the sea bed belly down watching a family of clown fish go
about their daily business swimming in and out of the anemone. Looking back, it almost seems impossible to think that I did
this, but I have my open water divers license to remind me of
my time spent underwater in Thailand.

Of course what is a trip to Thailand without a night
spent at the world famous full-moon party, not to go in to too
much detail but it is most certainly a night to remember. A
beach packed with thousands of people covered in ultraviolet
paint, with music, fire dancers, water slides, a full moon in a
crystal clear sky and a party that literally goes on until sunrise - it is no wonder so many people flock to this event each
month. After spending some time to recover, we ventured out

Arron Briddick

Waterfall - Chiang Mai

in abundance for helping out local communities.

It was then on to the nursery for the next few days.
Here it was our job to paint the nursery with bright, colourful
and educational images to help the children understand things
such as the alphabet better. In Thailand, schools do not receive
governmental funding based on their educational stature or
need for money to make improvements; it oddly works in the
opposite way you would expect. Schools that are run down and
do not look appealing will receive less funding than a school
that is vibrant and attractive to the public. A previous group had
already started painting the alphabet running along the playground wall so our first job was to add an animal or well-known
object beginning with the respective letter to this, similarly to
what you might see in UK primary schools and nurseries, queue
Ollie the Octopus.

Once the painting was finished over the weekend it
was our turn to do our best at attempting to handle the Thai
children during their time at school, I can honestly say I have
never met a nicer bunch of kids in my entire life. They were
playful, kind and full of energy to say the least Our duties were
to entertain them during their break which we did by playing
‘duck, duck, goose’, not that they had any idea what a duck
or a goose was, but they got the gist all the same and enjoyed
chasing us, and each other around the giant circle of people we’d
made in the yard. As joyful as this experience was, it also gave
an insight in to how underprivileged the schools in Thailand
are - with very few amenities and overcrowded classroom space,
it was very apparent that these children deserve more. The
few days we spent at the nursery did not seem like anywhere
near long enough but the teachers and aid workers alike were
so grateful for our efforts and thanked us at every turn. I can
only hope the few changes we made can go some small way to

Rebecca Lowe recounts her trip to Uganda
This summer, I travelled to Uganda with a group of students
and science teachers. Together, we delivered a mixture of English, Science and extra-curricular workshops to both Ugandan
teachers and students. The students delivered lessons in English,
Biology, Chemistry and Physics to the Ugandan students as
well as extra-curricular workshops in Karate, First Aid, Team
Building, Sports and Music. The teachers delivered teacher
training courses to Ugandan teachers in Biology, Chemistry and
Physics – all of which were well attended by teachers from all
over the area.

I delivered the English workshop with two other students. We delivered the workshops in two schools across three
days. On each day we taught up to six groups which ranged in
size from 15 students to one huge group of 48. The workshop
was aimed at teaching poetry analysis techniques as well as
working on expanding vocabulary. As English is the national
language of Uganda their English was of a good standard but
it was interesting to see the gaps in their vocabulary; words we
no longer consider slang, such as ‘lads’, were ones which they
had no understanding of. However they were all very quick
learners and soon grasped the meaning of these new words and
also how you could use various poetic techniques to achieve
certain effects. Interaction in the classroom is not very common
in Uganda and so at first it was hard work to get the students to
raise their hands and share the answers with the rest of the class.
However as the sessions went on the students became more
confident and seemed to thoroughly enjoy basic interactive
exercises such as going through the alphabet in unison when
labelling rhyme schemes.

Decapitated head placed at the root of the tree
after the sacking of Ayutthaya by the Burmese
in 1767. Found nearly 200 years later grown
in to the trunk of the tree
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There is something very fulfilling about seeing the light
click on in a student’s head when they understand something or
learn something new; I knew they were not just going to forget
what we had taught them but build on it and progress. Because
of a cultural gap I often had to adapt the way I was explaining
certain concepts to present it in a way that was more understandable to the Ugandan students - helping me to develop my
communication and explanation skills. Furthermore, the fact
that the workshops were so popular made me more confident in
my presentation style.

For the extra-curricular workshops I taught some
karate sessions. These were meant to be one hour long and
taught to around 20 students. However, as the sessions were all
held outside in plain view, the sessions attracted much higher
numbers and I was soon teaching over 100 as well as having
hundreds of spectators on the side-lines. This meant I had to be

able to quickly adapt the sessions to accommodate the greater
numbers. In doing so I feel I developed my leadership technique
while also exercising quick thinking and resourcefulness.

I had fundraised prior to the trip and with this money
purchased some karate equipment to take over to Uganda and
leave in the various schools. I used this equipment in the classes
to develop basic techniques as well as introducing the students
to some fun mini-games. They practiced their kicks and punches on focus pads and played a balance game involving blocker
pads. The students loved these games and proved very able at
them for beginners. I also left some diagrams and videos of
karate techniques with the PE teachers so they could continue
to practice karate when I had left the schools. I have had many
emails and Facebook messages since I have returned assuring
me that they are doing so.

As well as teaching in Uganda, I also feel that, everywhere we went, I learnt something from the local people.
Our first location was Bukinda in the Kabale district. We visited
the Apostles of Jesus Seminary, St Paul’s RC Secondary School
and the Giant’s School. Both St Paul’s and the Seminary are
established and well developed schools; they are impressive
examples of how Ugandan schools can flourish when given the
right support. My old sixth form has supported St Paul’s for a
long time now and it was rewarding to see how well they have
utilised our support. In contrast, the Giant’s school is quite a
new and developing school but it was amazing to see how much
spirit and energy the students had despite their lack of resources. At all three schools both the Ugandan teachers and students
were incredibly eager to learn and develop themselves - taking
advantage of every opportunity they were given.

Everywhere we went, we were fully embraced into the
Ugandan culture. There were many assemblies where the Ugandan students showed us their traditional dances, sang beautiful
songs or revealed amazing talents such as stilt walking and
break-dancing. In return we taught them the Macarena!

Most mornings we attended 6.30 Mass at the Seminary
and were treated to beautifully harmonised hymns by the boys.
We also attended an outdoor Sunday Mass at St Paul’s where
once more the singing was wonderful: there was lots of clapping
along and some students accompanied the Gloria with a beautiful, spiritual dance. In return we sang ‘Christ Be Our Light’ and
though our singing was not quite as impressive as theirs, they
appreciated hearing a new hymn.

Whilst in Bukinda, we also visited Lake Bunyoni with
some of the Ugandan students and teachers. We went on a boat
trip around the lake’s 29 islands. It was beautiful and it was great

Jitendra Thakur on Pithora
wall paintings: A hidden treasure of Bhil and Bhilala tribal
communities in Central India

This travel report presents key findings of travel activity undertaken during April 2015 in the Alirajpur district of Madhya
Pradesh, Central India, supported by St Aidan’s College Travel
Awards 2015, Durham University, UK. During the one week
time period, travel activity was carried out in the Alirajpur
district to uncover and experience pithora wall painting art and
the people behind it. Alirajput town and remotely located tribal
villages named Ferkuwa and Chandpur were visited to achieve
activity objectives. This involved meeting with several tribal
people and some academic.

Alirajpur is a predominantly tribal district in the
western part of Central India which is known for its beautiful mountain, tropical forest, scattered village settlement and
famous Bhil - Bhilala tribes. Alirajpur town is placed at State
highway number 26. The town is 155 miles away from Indore.
Bhilala is beautiful and is the second largest tribal community
in India. They are recognized for their dance, music, festivals,
traditions and rich artistic heritage. The Pithora wall painting
is one of the most beautiful forms of tribal arts made by BhilBhilala community in the region.

to spend some more time getting to know our hosts.

The next week we travelled on to Nyamirama in the
Kanungu District on the edge of the Great Rift Valley, where
we visited Newman Primary School and Poullart des Places
Secondary School. They are relatively new schools and part of a
thriving Catholic community in a very remote, rural area.

Here all of the science courses were taught in the new
science laboratory. This new laboratory had just had a concrete
floor put in and the walls plastered; we donated £3500 from our
fundraising to help achieve this new facility for the school. We
ran the RSC Global Experiment with the Ugandan secondary
students. Whilst the experiment was not amazingly complicated, finding the saturation point of water with sugar, they were
the first school in Africa to log the results online!

I personally really enjoyed visiting the schools here.
The primary kids were so excited to see us and so unrelentingly happy even though they had so little. It was also very
heart-warming to see the older secondary children taking care
of the younger primary children. The youngest were still in
nursery and when it was nap time they took naps on the bare
floor of the nursery and still managed to get enough sleep to
rebound with energy for afternoon games.

The youngest girl in the school, just three years old, fell
asleep in my arms and when we were leaving to go back to our
accommodation I tried to leave her with the rest of her friends.
However, as I started to walk away she started to cry and run
after me. She was so young she hadn’t started to learn English
yet so I couldn’t tell her I would be back tomorrow in a way she
would understand. Luckily, some of the older students taught
me how to say ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’ in their local language
and she seemed to respond to that. This is one of my most precious and fondest memories of the trip, and one that is always
going to make me want to go back.

I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and am already making
plans to return. Uganda is a beautiful country filled with fascinating and awe-inspiring people. We say that it is a developing
country as it has less resources and a weaker infrastructure than
we are used to. However, I believe, in their own way, the people
are more developed than us. They are quicker to smile, though
they have less; they are constantly showing affection and gratitude to one another and they are extremely hard-working and
determined to get the best life for themselves and their loved
ones. These are all qualities which I believe everyone should
strive to achieve and my trip to Uganda has definitely inspired
me to do this.

Beginning of journey
After arriving at Indore airport via Mumbai, I reached my home
town Dhar, which is 37 miles away from Indore. Here I joined
one of my friends, Rahul, who is working on tribal issues in the
region as a PhD researcher .He was also interested to experience
pithor art so we decided to travel by his motorbike to closely
experience tribal life and natural beauty. Early morning, we
started our journey having a popular breakfast in the area called
“powha-Jalebi’. It was really joyful to experience the beautiful
Vindhyachal mountain range, tropical forest, curved mountain
road, scattered tribal settlements and simple living style of the
Bhil –Bhilala tribe. After arriving at Alirajpur town, we had an
appointment with Suresh Tomar and Pradeep Kanel, assistant
professors in Alirajpur Postgraduate Government Collage to

Figure 1 : Beautiful curved mountain road,
tribal people doing farming and plam trees

Rebecca Lowe

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Figure 2: Traditional house of Aman Singh
constructed by him and further home made
things as well as pithora wall painting
talk about pithor art, tribal people and region. Both have a deep
understanding of the pithora art and region as both belong
to the Bhilala tribal community living in the remote place
Kathivada.
Pithora wall painting
Talking with Suresh, he says “indigenous people like Pithora
wall painting as a religious ritual rather than as art. The painting
is traditionally made on the wall but nowadays, cloth, paper and
card boards are also used with natural and synthetic colours for
commercial purpose”. Wall painting is still alive in its original
forms with creative expression and makes for traditional home
décor that has religious importantance to the Bhilalas. These
paintings have significance in their lives and executing the
Pithora paintings in their homes brings them peace, prosperity
and happiness.
Journey to the tribal villages
After finishing my productive discussion with Suresh and
Pradeep, I had good information on the pithor wall painting
which made me excited to see the art in reality and to understand the lives of the tribal people. Next, we followed our
pre-planned visit to two tribal villages named Ferkuwa and
Chandpur, 6-8 miles away from Alirajpur town with our local
guide and language translator, Sachin. The village roads were
quiet, making me relax. Some tribes were working in the corn
and soybean fields. There were scattered tribal houses on the
hill and the river bank and the palm trees were fascinating to
my mind (fig. 1). I also saw some tribal people selling palm
wine on the street. Palm wine is an alcoholic beverage made
from the sap of the palm tree locally called ‘tadi’. It is a most
popular drink among the tribal people which can be found
easily anywhere in the region. Tadi wine is a significant part
of tribal life as any religious rituals, festivals, ceremonies even
pithora wall painting are not complete without it. We were in
the ferkuwa village after a short ride. It was surprising to see just
two houses in the village so my guide explained to me that the
tribal dwellings are scattered over the slopes of hills and mountains and the fields. They like to live separately rather than in
one single place. First, we meet Aman Singh, a 45 year-old Bhil
tribal man living with his family near to a small river. It was my

and liquor from the ‘mahuda’ flower are offered to gods who are
invited to stay in the paintings to ensure continued supernatural
protection. Next day, the host tribal family arranges food, music
and dance for relatives and friends, all call ‘Mela’ to complete
the ceremony.

Ideas for a better future for pithora art
Currently, Pithora wall painting is struggling to keep its traditional form due to modernisation and changing socio-economic needs of indigenous people. As a researcher I realised that
there is a serious need for detailed scientific research on various
aspects of pithora wall painting in terms of current changing
scenarios and systematic documentation of traditional art. A
deep research study may bring about more detailed, newer insights into how this can be used by tribal people as an art form
for their own development and progress and how the art form
can be preserved. A commercial form of pithora wall painting
is also taking place in the market benefiting non – tribal people.
Therefore, government and NGOs have to make a concerted effort to ensure that pithora wall painting can be utilised for their
own economic or social benefit preserving its original values.
Activities of religious machineries in the tribal areas are also a
subject of serious concern that should be stopped by making
people in the tribal communities aware of government efforts.
Currently, the Bhil – Bhilala tribal community is affected by the
outside world due to implicating unpractical tribal development
and welfare programs in the past few decades. Government
and NGOs have to make sure that the cultural identity of the
Bhil – Bhilala tribal community should not be damaged in the
name of the tribal welfare plan. Protection of the traditional
tribal culture should be the first priority for policy makers and
government grass root workers in the tribal region.

Having had a great learning experience at Alirajpur
tribal district I uncovered some interesting hidden aspects of
the rich pithora wall painting art and of the lives of the people
who create and experience it. The finding bring about newer insights and ideas regarding development and progress of this art
along with its preservation. This travel activity definitely helped
me to improve my research and field work skills as well as to
make my dream come true to see the rich pithora wall painting
art.

Life behind pithora wall painting

Figure 3: Colorful pithora wall painting
showing tribal living and many more
first experience seeing a phithora wall painting in his house and
that was amazing. There was a large wall painting in the living
hall which was made in 2008. His house was full of rich tribal
art like a handmade wooden tank for preserving grain, a cot, a
soil pitcher, a manually operated flour milling machine made
by stone, wooden baskets and many more (fig. 2). I enjoyed
a number of wall paintings in both villages (fig. 3) and interviewed some villagers asking a list of questions on pithora art,
life behind art, issues and newer insights and ideas for a better
future for art.
Making of pithora wall painting
Making a pithora painting in a tribal house is an interesting
story. Traditionally, making pithora is a part of 5-7 days of
religious ritual for expression of gratitude to the tribal male god
(pithora baba) for wishes to be granted. Usually, tribal families
organize this event within intervals of five years which involves
a series of rituals extending to days and nights of incantations,
singing and dancing, renditions of myths, oral traditions and
invoking the very act of creation.

For five to seven days the ritual begins with purifying
the house and inviting friends and relatives at home. The wall
to be painted is first plastered with mud and cow dung by the
unmarried girls of the household and then coated with chalk
powder; this process is called lipna. Then the artists proceed to
do their work. Currently, chalk powder and chemical colours
are frequently in use to make a Pithora wall painting as traditionally natural colours were used to make it. Different realities
of rural living are expressed in pithora painting such as folk
lore, tribal legends, fantasy, animals, birds, hills and topography, sharing space with the netherworld, men and women, all
together creating a mythical imaginary world (fig. 3). After the
painting is finished, a person called ‘Badawa,’ or head priest of
the tribe, is invited by the host family to worship the Pithora
painting which takes almost one night time. The tribal community believes that gods are installed on the wall painting, representing their cosmos and myth of creation. Traditional food

Pithora wall painting is greater than art for tribal people,
because it is also a blessing for peace, prosperity and happiness. Kagaliya Singh is a small farmer in the Ferkuwa village,
practicing traditional cultivation mostly dependent on tropical
monsoon rainfall. His profession provides enough to fulfil the
basic needs of his wife and three children but the probability of
unexpected ill-health and disease in the family and the problem
of insufficient rainfall for cultivation mean that he is always
worried. Therefore, he makes wishes to the pithora baba (tribal
god) for protecting them from all these calamities. Aman Singh
says ‘he has strong faith on Pithora baba. Making a wish and organising ritual for pithora wall painting at home always realise
me that my family would be safe and happy for next five year’.

Pithor ritual is also a way to celebrate life and make
joyful movements. Magan Singh, a 40 year old tribal Bhil, says
‘pithora is not just a ritual but also a big celebration for us. Usually we start our preparation a month before buying necessary
things for the ritual, sending invitations to friends and relatives
and preparing the house; all this is itself great fun. The end of
the pithora ritual, the ‘mela’ event, is organized by the host family for friends and relatives and is full of joy with dance, music,
singing, delicious traditional food and liquor’.
Facing challenge for remaining its traditional form
During the activity I noticed that pithora art has been undergoing change and faces challenges to its traditional form due
to modernizing of the lifestyle of the tribal community and the
implementation of government welfare policies in the region.
Hindu and Christian missionaries are also active in the region,
providing medical and education facilities to tribal people if
they adopt their religion. Talking with an assistant professor
in the Alirajpur College, Suresh says “many tribal families are
converting into Hinduism, Christianity and Buddhism due to
their poor financial situation. In such a family, holding a pithora
wall painting would be a big challenge. Tribal welfare policies
of the government with less care of cultural value are making
significant changes in their life style. I noticed that many young
tribal boys are adopting urban lifestyle such as modern clothes
like jeans & shirts, using mobile phones and motorbikes and
watching television. Somehow, these changes are keeping them
away from their own rich culture. The effect of modernisation
can be seen on the wall paintings as some artists draw trains,
guns, airplanes, policeman and other modern things in the
pithora painting.

Currently, pithor wall paintings became more popular
and many tribal artists paint on cloth, paper and card boards for
commercial reasons due to poverty and great demand for art.
When some tribal people in the villages were asked, they would
say that they are not in favour of selling pithor paintings for a
commercial purpose as they respect pithora as a spiritual ritual
and keep it in their house as a God rather than a commercial
product in the market. Tribal youths are also migrating to urban
areas for their livelihood and better life opportunities.

Features

Jitendra Thakur

William Moody reports on his
teaching experience in
Romania

Monday began early: I arrived in Lasi after a two day stopover in Bucharest and was, at this time, alone. The other two
Bredexers (members of the organisation through which this was
organised) were yet to return from Bucharest themselves after
their week off so I got up early to make sure I’d get breakfast
and find the university classrooms where I was to teach in time.
I thankfully did both successfully; I had chicken schnitzel and
coffee for my 7am breakfast next to some guy enjoying a few
too many beers (I emphasise that Romania has no sense of the
passage of time) and got into the classroom about half an hour
early. I wasn’t sure entirely if this was the correct classroom in
the Georghe Asachi Technical University of Lasi but I just waited and hoped. Thankfully, it worked.

For my first English lesson – though I’d planned for
it – I didn’t really know what to do. I had taught English before
but only on a ‘one to one’ basis and not to a whole class. As they
filtered in – greeting them, one by one – it became increasingly
evident that these people were here to learn English and not just

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Figure 1: The Palace of Culture, Lasi
have a chat, as I’d once imagined. I, naturally, spent that first
class breaking the ice and learning about my class. The ages really varied, as did professions, and I ended up with a 16-person
strong class from the ages of 14-65. We had quite a few doctors,
to my surprise – one medical doctor, two (maybe more?) chemical engineer PhDs and a doctor of history (more on that later).
This first day was a bit of a shock, but I think it went quite well.
We spoke about their hobbies, which naturally led onto other
things, which then ended up taking the whole three hours. It
worked out well. I told them about Durham, and me growing
up in Ireland, Spain, and Gibraltar, which they all seemed very
interested in. The levels of comprehension varied greatly and I
learnt quickly that nods did not equal understanding. ‘Gibraltar,’ I’d say, ‘is a British Overseas Territory. Now, this roughly
means that while governance remains de jure in the hands of
the British Monarch – the Queen – it is de facto carried out by a
Gibraltarian Parliament and Government, headed currently by
Fabian Picardo, our Chief Minister.’ Many nodded approvingly,
furiously taking note of my every word in their notebooks. I’d
always try and relate the conversation back to Romania so as to
encourage participation, so I asked: ‘Tell me, who is the Prime
Minister of Romania?’ Blank stares would follow, someone
would nod and jot something down, but silence would reign.
My first day was the perfect introduction to how I would have
to alter my teaching style, and I did so accordingly.

The two other Bredexers, with whom I was to spend
the next three weeks, arrived back at Lasi that evening too.
One – a Hatfielder – brought with himself a large number of
books which became something of a revelation as the weeks
passed. The other – a history student at Exeter – brought with

Figure 2: The food and classes

Figure 3: Some of my class and the view of the
city
him some mini speakers which were to occupy most of our
evenings. We had a great chat on the first day and they caught
me up on all the banter I had hitherto missed. Monday drew to
a close following a walk around Lasi (fig. 1) and a wonderfully cooked communal meal and the rest of the week promised
more of the same, but more organised.

The following four week days all went quite slowly
(though this is not said in the usually negative way: time has a
gentler quality in Romania). I got to know my class more and
engaged with them about Romanian history, culture, food, as
well as my own. One of my favourite games to play at the end
of a lesson was Boggle. For this, you write on the blackboard
either sixteen or twenty-five letters and challenge the class to
find the biggest word within these scrambled letters. Some were
quite recurrent: dog, log, die, five, bin, tin. Some were much
more recalcitrant and beat me more often than I’d like to admit:
hostage, fulfilment, courage, hunger. When I really put my
mind to it, however, I would beat them in style: thalidomide,
haberdashery, propaganda. Granted, the class didn’t even know
these words existed, but a victory is a victory.

Another activity that we did – which lasted two days –
was to ‘dress-up’ a character. This was to learn vocabulary (each
day we had a different theme: clothes, food, culture, politics,
history) and involved drawing a (naked) stick man on the
board, give him or her a name, profession and their environment a setting and dress them up. The first of these was called
Jake. He was an amateur footballer and otherwise unemployed.
He was going to the mall to see some friends, and it was 35
degrees Celsius. This led us to dress him accordingly. He wore
flip-flops, a t-shirt, shorts, a hat, etc. The next day to character
was Maria and she was a student who was going to class in
negative 30 degrees Celsius (apparently it gets that cold there
during winter). She thus wore snow boots, trousers, a thermo
vest, a jacket, gloves, hat, etc. This was a good way to introduce
the class to vocabulary because it puts them in a real-life scenario where they have to think about their surroundings and how
to describe them.

The ‘food’ day was similar: we went through a day in
the life of Jake and Maria, feeding them as they went along. We
listed all the breakfast foods (which inevitably led to discussion)
and then picked the most appropriate ones for them. We often
put the decision down to a vote. We did this for lunch, dinner,
snacks, etc. This led to great discussion, disagreement, argument which drove people to talk. Some members of the class
were more reticent than others, but in the end they all came out

to talk.

Another way to make members of the class express
themselves was to do group presentations. With the size of my
class, it wouldn’t have been viable to do individual presentations
so we did small groups of three and four where I supervised
to make sure that everyone participated. I picked – again – a
rather controversial topic so as to incite debate and disagreement for the first group presentation. It was using the adjectives and forms of adjectives we had learnt in a previous class
(superlative, comparative, descriptive) to compare the three
historical regions of Romania (Transylvania, Moldavia, Wallachia). This ended up being great fun as many members of the
class hailed from the different regions. So when somebody from
Moldavia (Lasi is in Moldavia) got up and said ‘Transylvania
is more horrible than Dracula’ and ‘Wallachia is poorer than
Moldavia’ vociferous debate ensued. I made sure the discussion
was carried out in English which I feel they really benefited
from. I explained to the class many times that because English
is such an irregular language, the best way to learn is through
conversation. They seemed to like this as grammar activities
wouldn’t have quite elicited the same response, especially with
the varying age groups I had.

Over the three weeks, I grew a connection with my
class and we developed a rather intricate web of inside jokes.
This included ones about Romanian food (I didn’t hide my disapproval), jokes about Jake and Maria (one boy said he would
take Maria on a date) and a system of ‘toques’ which required
student to write a 100-word essay if they spoke in Romanian
more than three times a lesson. They seemed to enjoy this system as it kept them talking in English throughout.

As I approached my final week, Jack suggested to me
a barbeque with our classes combined down by Lake Ciric, a

Figure 5: Former home of the prince of
Moldavia

nearby barbeque spot for locals. We did the barbeque on our final days in Lasi and it was a wonderful experience. The combined
classes were so kind as to provide all the food and drinks – of which there was a lot – and drove Jack and I down to the lake. They
were really appreciative of our efforts to come out to Romania and teach them English – they had such a thirst for knowledge! The
classes loved to ask us questions about England, the language, sport, news and our views on Romania. The barbeque was all cooked
by Emil who slaved over the mici and chicken for hours. Mici – the national sausage – is a thick, mysterious meat embodied in a
sausage skin which we snacked on for hours (see fig. 2). After much revelry by the lake (including a lovely peddalo ride in which
the two girls insisted on pedalling themselves) we were returned home kindly by a member of the class. The group refused to accept
any payment for anything and insisted we took home an enormous ‘goodie bag’ of left-over foods and drinks. It really was enormous and would have lasted us about a week had we been staying longer.

On my final day teaching the class, they took the initiative to teach me about Lasi. It took us up to one of the seven hills
which surround the city to look over it (see fig. 3) and back down around the museums in the town. This included some hidden
and now mostly destroyed monuments, various churches (and a church bell which I could ring, fig. 4), an old royal home (see fig.
5), a beautiful 19th century theatre, an 11th century monastery, and the university wherein students graduate (see fig. 6).

Again, my class were so kind as to pay for all my entrances to the various sites and drove me around with great enthusiasm. The historian of the group (who curated some of the museums which we visited) explained with vigour the proud history of
the Moldavians and their cultural ties to Western Europe and the east. Romania is indeed a bit of East-meets-West: this is displayed
in their language (a romance language spoken with a Slavic twang), their history (a 45 year foray into communism but the rest very
tied to the Greek Orthodox Church) and indeed their future (an EU member still unfortunately marred by corruption). The tour of
the city I was taken on best displayed the proud melting pot that Romania is.

It was with a heavy heart that I eventually left my class. They were all soon returning to university, work and school and
gave me some very kind gifts as I departed. A bottle of wine, chocolates and a book about the anthropology of salt written by the
historian (a personal favourite) were given to me. The class were very kind and I told them all to keep in touch with me via email
which I have no doubt they will!

Unfortunately, I don’t have the space to talk about my travels on the weekends (as they were just an aside). I went to
Chisinau, the capital of Moldova (which was a desperately poor city) and Tiraspol, in the self-declared de facto independent state
of Transnistria, as well as Brasov, a considerable (though not overly impressive) Romanian tourist attraction. Tiraspol was indeed
a bizarre experience, where Lenin statues adorned the city centre and a bridge painted half-Russian flag and half-Transnistrian flag
had written in Cyrillic type “Thank you Russian Peacekeepers” which referred to their maintenance of the independence of the
state. The communist hammer and sickle was also plastered around the place, as were USSR-esque values embodied in paintings.

Romania was indeed a memorable experience where I had the chance to teach a class of inquisitors the English language
and learn a great deal about Romania and Eastern Europe myself. I feel it was a mutually beneficial experience and I thank Bredex,
the organisation through which this exchange is done and the Aidan’s Travel Award for facilitating my trip.
William Moody

Figure 4: The church bell
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Figure 6: Where students receive their
diplomas

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Rozzie Harrison reports on her
travels during the summer of
2015

This summer, after completing my second year of law at St.
Aidan’s College, I was fortunate enough to travel to India, Jordan and Uganda and was most kindly assisted in funding this
by St. Aidan’s. In this report I shall give further details regarding
my time in India and Uganda (it should be noted that although
in between these two parts of the trip I did spend 10 days in
Jordan, this part of the trip was purely recreational, and so was
not considered in the granting of the award, hence its exclusion
from this report).

I travelled to Kolkata, India with my mother on June
8th. We were there for a total of 12 days, leaving on 19th June.
Whilst in Kolkata, we spent the majority of our time with a
charity called New Light, an organisation set up to serve the
children of prostitutes working in the notorious red light district of Kalighat. They offer day care facilities as well as full time
shelter for girls and boys up to age 18, as well as the opportunity
of housing for girls over 18. Education and healthcare is provided for the children in their care as well as the wider community.
They also work with Dalits, or untouchables, who are at the
bottom of the caste system and those who are HIV+.

Upon first visiting the office, which was hidden upstairs off a side street in Kalighat, we were unsure what role we
could play in the organisation given the short period of time
we were in the area. After having a lengthy discussion with the
associate director, a woman called Urmi Rae, we decided that
I would spend some time with the older girls, discussing self
worth and future dreams and that I would also help my mother
to run a Theory of Change session, something she does on a
regular basis in her line of work.

I spent two or three hours the next day sitting with
five girls aged 19-22, talking to them about the impact of New
Light on their lives so far, who their role models were, what
they liked about themselves, what their skills were, what they
wanted to do in the future and how they hoped to realise these
dreams. This gave them an opportunity to dream, but more
importantly to begin to see that these dreams aren’t unfeasible,
that their difficult starts in life shouldn’t prevent them from
achieving great things and they are worthy of success. This was
a very rewarding time for me, as one of my big passions in life is
that all people should realise their infinite value, rather than be
restricted by a lack of self-belief.

Theory of Change is a workshop designed to help
organisations identify what their core aim is, work out how
they’re currently achieving that and looking at what else they
could do in order to fully realise that aim. This took two days in
New Light and was run with ten of the staff there, who worked
in a number of areas of the organisation. The Bengali/ English
language barrier presented quite a problem, but with a few fluent in both languages, interpretation was done and people were
free to think in their own languages, so this didn’t stem creativity too much! At the end of the sessions, there were lots of new
ideas for how to tackle the problems which Kalighat faced and
we left the directors the feat of deciding which new ideas could
be implemented.

We also had the opportunity to visit a few of the other
projects that New Light ran in different areas of the city. We saw
Starfish, which is a day care facility for toddlers whose mothers

After arriving back in Kampala, we spent a couple of
days in Maya, a village one or two hours away (traffic dependent!). One day was visiting the dental clinic that has been set up
there to provide for the villagers and the beginnings of a tube
housing project that John is beginning, which will hopefully
serve some vulnerable families and give them more secure
housing, once the model and some transportation issues have
been resolved. The next day, a Sunday, was spent visiting an
orphanage my sister was working at for a couple of months last
year- we taught Sunday school and had lunch with the director,
where we learned more about the work that she’s doing.

The next week began by learning the ropes of microfinance, designing the forms that applicants would need to fill
in and working out all the logistics of beginning a new project
like this. On Wednesday, we travelled to Mityana for a few days,
a village in a tea plantation, where John was born and grew
up. We held a meeting for a number of interested people who
were very keen to apply for small loans, mostly to expand their
farming businesses (the main source of income for most people
there) by buying more crops to plant, or more pigs to rear.
There was far more interest than anticipated, which was very
encouraging, but also highlighted how many people were barely
scraping a living. This project could make a huge difference to a
number of lives and it seems it can’t start soon enough! The next
day, we went with a neighbour called Stella to visit a number
of the ladies who were interested in getting loans, to see where
they lived now and where their income came from. Many had
husbands working on the plantation and they themselves did
work like farming, teaching and nursing.

Once back in Ntinda, we spent a couple of days in
Acholi quarters. The Acholi people are originally from near
Gulu, in the north, but had to flee down to Kampala during
the civil war. There is a women’s literacy group there which has

are prostitutes, and who, if not for the project, would be fending
for themselves. Somar home is a full time shelter for girls aged
8-18. The girls would be placed there to avoid the risks of
institutional, generational prostitution, so they can complete
their education and pursue legitimate means of providing for
themselves and families they may have in the future.

Also whilst in Kolkata, we were able to volunteer for
one day with the Missionaries of Charity sisters, the on-going
work that was started by Mother Teresa. We were in Shishi
Bhavan house, which is for disabled children. In the course of
the morning, we played with the children, gave them lunch,
changed them and put them down for their naps and also
helped some of the other staff with doing the laundry and hanging it out on the roof.

I arrived in Uganda on July 1st, with my sister and a
friend, both of whom are also university students. We had vague
plans when arriving, but as is often the way in Africa, we were
unsure of exactly how our time would be spent. We ended up
having an opportunity to see many areas of Uganda other that
Ntinda, the Kampala suburb we were chiefly staying in, as well
as work with a few different projects. In Ntinda, we were staying
with a man called John and his family, who my sister stayed
with for five months during her gap year in 2014. He runs a
number of projects, connected to each other by their common
aim of alleviating poverty and we saw a good number of them
during our time.

The first thing we did was go to Queen Elizabeth
National Park for a couple of days, to relax before the hard work
began. The drive, which took the best part of a day, from east
Uganda to the southwest, went through beautiful countryside,
full of rolling hills, villages and tea plantations. We stayed at
John’s campsite, just outside the park border and went for a boat
trip on the lake, as well as a couple of game drives.

Features

been running for a number of months and is giving a group
of 11 women the opportunity to become literate in English, so
they have a better chance of supporting themselves and entering
business negotiations- many of them make beads to sell to
support their families, as this responsibility falls to them in their
culture. We did conversation classes for a couple of days, so they
could practice the English that they had been learning to give
them more confidence in using the language. Whilst the varying
levels of ability made this difficult at times, all the women were
very keen to learn and improve and it was a real shame we
didn’t have longer with them- the difference that being able to
write their names makes to their lives cannot be overstated and
empowering them was amazing to see. They are very generous people and after only two days with them they all gave us
necklaces and bracelets made from their paper beads! This show
of generosity, gratitude and selflessness is very inspiring from
people with so little and I personally found it very profound and
thought provoking. If they can give so much and keep so little,
why do we find it so difficult to give so little and keep so much?

Overall, this trip was a very special one for me.
Throughout the five weeks I spent in India and Uganda, I was
constantly having new experiences- food, culture, transport,
heat (India was never cooler that 30 degrees, and often above
40!), and I met some truly amazing people, who are incredibly inspiring in the way that they live. It put my life into quite
a harsh reality and I am more aware than ever of the impact
that little actions of generosity and kindness can have on the
recipients, as well as the changed hearts of the giver. I am very,
very grateful to St Aidan’s for their support in making this trip
possible.
Rozzie Harrison

Red Strivens recounts his visit
to Uganda
On 25 July, I chaired a board meeting for the first time in
Kyrumba, a small village in the Rwenzori Mountains of Western Uganda, not far from the Congo border. I had travelled
more than 6,000 miles to evaluate two farmer cooperatives for
a microfinance charity that had supported the cooperatives the
previous year. The charity had commissioned me to find out as
much as possible about these cooperatives so that they could
make an informed decision about funding for the coming year.
The charity and the Sheila Curran Travel Bursary funded my expenses and I organised the aims, outcomes and logistics of the
assignment myself.

The day before the meeting I was met at Kasese bus
terminus by Serapio Magambo, a local consultant who had
agreed to help me with my assignment. He had already rented
a car and then negotiated a deal for me at a hotel. At dawn the
next day we headed up into the mountains through the cotton
fields and soon rounded the pass. The village lay in a depression
surrounded by mountains on all sides. Serapio explained that
the farmers live on these mountains and come down seasonally
to work in the cotton fields. Some of the farmers waiting in the
cooperative office had walked for hours that morning to meet
us.

We were met by Ivan Bwambale, the manager of the
cooperative and Muhindo Friday, the chairman of the board
and were welcomed to a small room at the back of the office
where the board were waiting. I was a bit on edge before the

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Conference Awards

meeting, but once I made it clear that my role was a researcher not a consultant, it became clear that the board was equally keen to
impress. I started by asking the board and manager to mention successes and problems over the last growing season. I then asked
follow up questions and some pre-prepared questions.

It felt quite strange asking technical questions about the cooperative given I had no experience in management or agriculture, but each answer seemed to generate a new question. By the end of the meeting and after an hour questioning the accountant,
I had a rough understanding of how an agricultural cooperative functions in Uganda. It was good to see that all the board members
wanted to contribute and Serapio was vital in translating their comments. Later, Ivan and a few board members took me further
up into the mountains to visit some of the more remote communities only accessible by motorbike. There I got important feedback
about the cooperative from ordinary farmers in addition to the feedback from the board.

After a long day of travel and work Ivan showed me to a local guesthouse, while Serapio went back to Kasese in the car. I
had one of four large concrete houses with thatched roofs and porches set back in an enclosed garden. As far as I could tell I was
the only guest. I asked Ivan to come for a drink before it got dark and he came by after I had finished my dinner. We talked until it
was too dark to continue – the power had cut out that evening – and I learned a lot about his life, work and family.

Ivan was especially interesting because, unlike the board, he was a graduate recruited from another region of Uganda and
was running a cooperative at the age of 29 with more than 300 members. He was very enthusiastic about the benefits of a university education, but only in the sense that they taught you a technical discipline that made you more valuable. I’m not sure what he
thought of my history degree. The most striking thing he said – and this was mirrored by Serapio and other educated Ugandans I
met – was that he had not read anything that was not directly related to his personal development. He passed me How to be a Leader to make his point.

The next day I photographed the key cooperative documentation and then drove with Serapio and Ivan down into the
cotton fields to try to meet some more farmers. The fields were hot and dusty after the humidity of the mountains and there were
few people around. The cotton season was over so many farmers had gone back to the mountains, but we did manage to talk to one
isolated community, who had gathered at the local school on top of a hill. I introduced myself and Ivan took the opportunity to
catch up with his members, whom he rarely sees because of the long distances and lack of transport. I did some video interviews
and gathered some useful data about how much cash income each farmer earned during the last month. Serapio gave the farmers some advice about how to get the best yields from their cotton. Then we drove back to Kasese where we dropped off Ivan and
checked into a hotel.

At dawn we set off for the second cooperative in Bundibugyo. This involved a three hour drive over the Rwenzori Mountains and into the other side of the rift valley right on the Congo border. Driving through the mountain passes was quite scary to
start with, but I soon got into doing racing lines around the hairpin bends. I think Serapio might have regretted letting me drive.
Over the mountains we passed some baboons who we fed bananas to and later the military barracks that was attacked the previous
July. Serapio told me some more background on the attacks in which two large groups of men with machetes attacked police in
Kasese and Bundibugyo at the same time. Around 200 people died in the attacks and reprisals, which were the result of an intensification of ethnic conflict between the Bukonzo and the Bamba ethnic groups, largely driven by Bukonzo land purchases. Since then
there had been few disturbances.

We arrived at the Bundibugyo cocoa cooperative and were met by the manager, Damali Nasanda and the chairman of the
board, Matinda Methadius who introduced us to the board. I followed the same procedure as the previous meeting and had a better
feeling of the right questions to ask. Damali was also a young graduate, but most significantly she was a woman. It is still fairly unusual to have women in positions of overall management in Uganda - both cooperatives struggled to reach their minimum quotas
for women board members - which marked her as an interesting case to start with. She was also from a different region, spoke
excellent English and exuded competence.

We took a tour of the cocoa fermentation facility and the cocoa gardens after the meeting. Because the cocoa beans are
fermented and then dried, there was a strong acidic smell similar to vinegar throughout the facility. Walking through the cocoa
gardens was a bit like walking through a cultivated rainforest. Because cocoa trees can only grow in partial sunlight there were a
diverse range of trees in the gardens, without any clear borders between the gardens of different farmers.

I stayed one more day in Bundibugyo before heading back to Fort Portal, where I left Serapio and the car. After a few
short meetings with other consultants I was ready to go home. This feeling intensified when the hotel security guard began firing
his assault rifle as a large group approached the hotel. I did feel fairly relieved when I eventually touched down at Heathrow. The
assignment was a difficult, but very rewarding experience and writing the report gave me a taste of what I might want to do in
future. I hope that the report helps identify the strengths and weaknesses of both cooperatives so that the cooperatives can be best
supported to deliver a decent livelihood to its members.

Hao Zhou tells us how she used her St Aidan’s College Trusts
Travel Award in 2015

have different degrees of difficulty using English 3Psg pronouns
in speaking and writing. A language test that consists of an oral
and written part was designed for three groups of participants
who have diverse levels of English proficiency. A survey was
conducted to gather Chinese EFL students’ opinions about this
issue based on their own perspective and experiences. Results
showed that the fact of having different written forms but identical spoken forms for masculine & feminine 3Psg pronouns in
Chinese is a main reason for Chinese EFL translators’ different
performance in using 3Psg pronouns during English interpreting and translating. In addition, several gender error patterns
in writing and speaking were found and their correlation with

I applied for the St Aidan’s College Trusts Travel Awards 2015
for the attendance of the “Monterey Forum: Educating Translators, Interpreters and Localizers in an Evolving World” held
between the 28th and 29th of March 2015 at Monterey, California. The ultimate goal of the conference is to reflect on how
advances in pedagogy and technology are shaping translator/
interpreter/ localizer education. While this is primarily an academic activity, it is not part of the courses of my study. Rather,
it is an outstanding opportunity to develop professional and
cultural ties beyond the university. Attending a conference of
this magnitude in this topic is almost as exciting as being able to
visit the US. It fits nicely within my current degree and language
skills and helps immensely in the goal to continue studying
translation education at a higher level. It is also an opportunity
to bring translators who speak different languages to this particular language feature and translation difficulty.

The conference talk given by me was “Negative Transfer form Native Language during Interpreting& Translating”.
This study was undertaken to investigate Chinese EFL (English
as a Foreign Language) users’ gender error making in English
third person singular (3Psg) pronouns during interpreting and
translating. This research aimed at investigating a common
language error for Chinese EFL (English as a Foreign Language)
translators: gender error made in English third person singular
pronouns (3Psg pronouns) during both English-Chinese interpreting and translating. Native language transfer was considered
a major cause of such error because Chinese EFL translators

Red Strivens

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translators’ English proficiency was investigated.

The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at
Monterey (MIIS) (formerly, the Monterey Institute of International Studies) hosted a very successful and inspiring forum.
There were attendees coming from sixteen different countries,
some of them are doing research or teaching in universities,
some are working in translation agencies or companies and
some of them work as freelance translators/ interpreters. There
were a few speakers from universities in the UK as well. The
conference lasted for two days and it covered a wide range of
topics: translation and interpreting curriculum, community interpreting pedagogy, assessment in translation and interpreting,
remote teaching for translation and interpreting, translation
and interpreting pedagogy, innovations in translation/ interpreting pedagogy, etc. Postgraduate students studying at the
MIIS and teachers working in different translation programmes
participated in the round table discussions and talked about the
difficulties they encountered either in studying or teaching. I
was especially interested in talks about sight translation (STR)
and interpreting pedagogy. Since it was a conference reflecting on how advances in pedagogy and technology are shaping
translator/ interpreter/ localizer education, novice interpreters
studying at MIIS worked as interpreters in these two days, so
that the entire conference, including my talk, was simultaneously interpreted into multiple languages. It was very impressive
because none of the speakers was asked to send the script to

the interpreters in advance. My interest in doing a translation
and interpreting job was therefore intrigued. I feel that in order
to teach translation and interpreting and carry out research on
the subject, researchers should gain a better understanding of
it through working in the translation and interpreting industry
by themselves. In the end, I think the experiment really brought
my previous TESOL studying and my current translation research together and gave me a lot of inspiration.

It was my second time in California and first time in
Monterey, the small city by the seaside. I spent four days there.
I think Monterey is somehow similar with Durham because it
is a wonderful place for studying. During my trip I learnt a lot
about many interesting research projects. The Monterey Forum
is held every other year and I am looking forward to visiting
again.

well-structured, and displayed a startling consistency in scholarly concerns, despite a huge breadth of subject matter within
the given purview. I delivered my own paper in the first of these
panels, and my exploration of Engels’ mythmaking, in combination with my fellow panellists’ discussions of filth in Bleak
House and the illustration of A Tale of Two Cities respectively,
invited broad discussion of what it can mean to study Victorian texts by considering what is seen and unseen within the
texts themselves, and what the reading experience might have
been for a Victorian. We also discussed the current embrace
of Victoriana, which is of particular interest to me - what can
we learn about ourselves from the way our current culture has
reshaped the Victorian era for theme parks like Dickens World?
This question would appear in many different guises over the
course of the second and third panels on the subject. During
the second panel, exploring encounters between historical and
fictional characters in Vanity Fair challenged the navigation of
historical fiction through its referential characters, leaving the
King of England inconsequential to the fate of the important
characters. Papers on Victorian reconstruction of medieval feudalism, and ‘prochronism’ as a solution to the fearful implications of Darwinism, by contrast, reminded us that the reconstruction of the past as idyllic and unburdened by anxieties of
race and scientific knowledge is nothing new. Finally, the third
panel moved discussion into the present, with papers on Alan
Moore’s graphic novels, Connie Willis’s To Say Nothing of the
Dog, and the hilariously absurd bestseller, Pride and Prejudice
and Zombies. These papers nicely rounded out the theme of the
panel as a whole, bringing us back to the notion of rewriting
and refiguring as a constant process engaged with by the present
to make the past useful, whether by idealising or condemning it.

Overall, the experience of attending both the panels
specifically relevant to my discipline and those far outside of it
made this conference an extremely rich experience for me. In
addition to having fruitful academic discussions with my fellow
postgraduates, I learned a lot through more casual discussion
about the current state of academia in the United States and
Canada. Contemporary literature studies seem particularly
vibrant in Canada, as do diaspora studies and work on First
Nations experience and culture. The U.S., I also learned, was
somewhat more formal in terms of its environment at conferences and between colleagues. The market for academics, on the
other hand, was deemed fairly equal everywhere, and equally
difficult at that. Everyone was both hopeful and anxious for the
future of the academy in the face of economic difficulty and
budgetary concerns. Nevertheless, I was most strongly struck
not by a sense of greater competition between scholars, but a
greater spirit of collaboration and support. Those whom I met
at the conference were very welcoming and the good weather
which we were lucky to have matched the good cheer of the
participants. I left having made new connections in the North
American academic community and with a better sense of the
global community of scholars with whom I hope my work will
soon be in dialogue.

Hao Zhou

A report from thr Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Brock University by Kate Katigbak
This past spring, I had the pleasure of attending what is simply known to Canadian academics as ‘Congress’—a massive interdisciplinary conference that brings an international assemblage of scholars together for a week of papers, presentations, art, and cultural
exchange. Many of the key events are open to the public, and the host institution for this year, Brock University in St. Catharines,
Ontario, was filled entirely with local participants, as well as academics and publishing houses from all over Canada and the rest of
the world.

The breadth of Congress’s focus necessitated a tiered framework of events and organisations—at one level, there were
the public events, which this year revolved around Brock’s own commitment to social justice through the theme ‘Borders without
Boundaries’. This was exemplified by journalist Lyse Doucet, whose lecture I attended the morning after I arrived on campus. She
reflected upon her experiences in Benghazi, bearing witness to sieges and the fleeing of refugees, and used those experiences to
comment upon the role of the academy in social justice and in bridging understanding between worlds, as well as the problems inherent in carrying the stories of others and delivering them to foreign ears. The student experience, she argued, was an access point
to the future which might reach beyond borders and allow for greater global understanding.

Beyond the larger scope of the Congress’s public events were the organisations who chose to hold conferences within
the Congress’s bounds. These included such diverse groups as the Canadian Association for Social Work Education, the Canadian Game Studies Association and the Society for Existential and Phenomenological Theory and Culture. While members of
the different associations attended papers and panels specific to their own interests, they were also free to attend larger keynotes
together and socialise at the live music performances and beer garden. My participation in the Congress was through the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE), which in turn was hosting a sub-series of panels run
by the North American Victorian Studies Association (NAVSA). As part of ACCUTE, I was able to attend any panel within their
association and, as such, was exposed to a huge variety of scholarly interests among Canadian and American postgraduates and researchers. I attended panels on ‘Gothic Regenerations’, which explored the new faces of the Gothic television and film, as well as in
Margaret Atwood’s MaddAdam, and ‘Undone Masculinities’, which took the form of compelling discussions of the deconstruction
and reconstruction of the masculine ideal in the internet age, as appearing in cyberpunk literature and fanfiction. In attending such
panels, I was reminded that my discipline is capable of extending well beyond the conventional boundaries of literature, embracing
and questioning a vast variety of cultural artefacts and texts.

Additional to the panels run by both ACCUTE and NAVSA were the plenary talks hosted by ACCUTE, which allowed
all of the members of the association to come together. The first of these talks was delivered by Stephen Guy-Bray, who offered a
fascinating commentary on the process and purpose of paraphrase, in art and in poetry. He brought to our attention the need to
question the pedagogic preoccupation with the valuation of paraphrase, particularly in the context of analysing poetry for ‘what it
means’, and invited us to interrogate the notion of paraphrase as distillation, rather than as an understanding and embrace of the
difficulty and ambiguity of poetry. Poetry, he asserted, should be made more difficult when it is taught. For me, the talk prompted a
reconsideration of my own teaching methods and reminded me of the enjoyment to be found in close reading. The second plenary
was given by Faye Hammill, whose discussion of ‘sophistication’ as a shifting cultural construction from the nineteenth century
to Noel Coward prompted engaging discussion among the audience about what it means to be sophisticated now. That definition,
many concluded, not only has changed since the early twentieth century, but has split into many different meanings dependent
upon cultural and social contexts. What struck me most during this lecture was the great continuity to be found between the studies of the past and the studies of the present, which reinforced the continued importance of literary studies that extended backwards not just to reinforce a canon, but to offer context for the works now being produced.

The theme of NAVSA’s panels seemed also to reinforce this idea. The theme was ‘Victorian Uses and Abuses of History’,
which asked participants to explore the ways in which nineteenth century literature, and indeed neo-Victorian literature of the
twentieth and twenty-first centuries, manipulated, reimagined, and reconstructed its past and present. The panels themselves were

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Kate Katigbak

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Nihan Tokac attended the
School on Parameterized Algorithms and Complexity held at
the IMPAN Conference Centre
in Bedlewo, Poland

Between August 17, 2014 and August 22, 2014, I attended the
School on Parameterized Algorithms and Complexity held at
the IMPAN Conference Centre in Bedlewo, Poland, under the
support of St. Aidan’s College and the School of Engineering
and Computing Sciences, at Durham University.

The lectures started on Monday, 18th August 2014 in
the morning and continued until lunchtime on Friday, 22nd
August. The school programme contained basic introductory
courses as well as an overview of very recent developments,
including many exercises and open problems. 24 lectures were
presented in five days. Beside lectures, there were also sessions
for problem solving and discussion.

On the first day of the conference, there was a barbecue and, on the third day, there was a hike in a nearby forest.
These social activities provided a great opportunity to meet
many international colleagues and renowned Professors in the
area of theoretical computer science.

Parameterized complexity is a new area in computer
science. It was found in the 1990’s. Therefore, there are not
many related sources about this area. The most important
source related to the area was published in 1999 by Rodney G.
Downey and M.R. Fellows, and the name of the book is “Parameterized Complexity”. This study opens a new perspective
to theoretical computer science problems because it provides a

paralleled opportunity to pursue my academic interests and
experience an area of the world I wish to work in. Attending
this conference enabled me to pursue my own research and
confirmed my interest in pursuing a career in academia. It has
provided me with a far more comprehensive understanding of
the various ways in which archaeological research is conducted
across Europe. My experiences in Istanbul and the archaeological sites I managed to visit will greatly inform my Masters
course which will involve studying the Byzantine Empire, which
Istanbul was the capital of. Furthermore, attending a large and
multinational conference has provided me with experience of a
huge variety of academic perspectives on archaeology and how
these ancient remains should be studied.
Rachael Sycamore

solution for computationally hard problems.

In my first year of my PhD degree, my research is in
the application of parameterized complexity to computational
biology problems which are hard to solve computationally.
The summer school provides a good source for parameterized
complexity with the lectures, and the slides are available in the
school’s website.

I would like to express my gratitude to St. Aidan’s College for the £150 Small Grant they offered to me to attend the
such an important summer school.
Nihan Tokac

Rachael Sycamore shares how
she used her Russell Smith
Award in 2014

My name is Rachael Sycamore and I was awarded the Russell
Smith Award in 2014. I graduated from St Aidan’s College with
a degree in Archaeology and Ancient Civilisations in July 2014;
I have continued my studies at Durham beginning a Masters in
Archaeology from October 2014. The grant of the Russell Smith
Award enabled me to travel to Istanbul to present a research
paper at the 20th Annual Meeting of the European Association
of Archaeologists (EAA). This is a highly prestigious conference
which attracts scholars from across Europe and this year was
the largest archaeological conference held for over thirty years.
Hence, this was a unique opportunity to experience a major
academic event within an archaeologically important city.

Petra Staynova reports on how
she used her St Aidan’s College
Trust Travel Award in 2014

The conference was held between the 10th-14th September and my paper was presented in the afternoon on the
10th September. The paper I presented was research into the
way that gender roles and representations are presented in video
games relating to archaeology. This is a relatively new area of
research and is a relatively unknown topic among many who
also study the representation of gender. However, it is likely to
become an area of increasing importance as digital technology becomes increasingly embedded into modern society and
awareness needed to be raised about this avenue of research.

Furthermore, by attending the conference I was able to
attend numerous sessions which have diversified my academic
interests. By attending presentations by academics from across
Europe I was able to better understand the effect of the differences between the academic traditions practised in different
countries. I now have a greater understanding of the European
context of British archaeology as well as the similarities and
differences of the priorities of research across Europe. This
experience supplemented my academic studies by increasing
my awareness of other European archaeology traditions; my
knowledge of which had been largely theoretical until attending
EAA.

The acceptance of my paper to EAA gave me the
opportunity to expose the potential of this research area to
the wider archaeological community. I have never presented
a research paper at a major archaeological conference before
and this provided my first attempt at presenting my work to
my peers outside of Durham University. Overall, the paper
was seen as an interesting new perspective and it generated an
interesting debate. As I was at an international conference, I
was given some very informative advice on how to improve my
presentation skills for people whose first language is not English. This experience will improve my ability to communicate
concepts to diverse audiences and improve my confidence when
presenting in front of large numbers of people.

Through attending the conference and presenting this
unusual paper, I was able to generate contacts in my field of
study. Alongside this, it is likely that, as a result of attending
this conference, I will be able to publish my paper, which I had
not anticipated being able to do prior to the conference. As my
research paper is very unusual, I was not expecting to be able to
publish it in any of the popular archaeological journals which
specialise in representations of archaeology. Additionally, this
opportunity will increase my potential to obtain funding for a
PhD in archaeology upon the completion of my Masters degree.

The opportunity to travel to Istanbul provided my

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first opportunity to experience a Middle Eastern culture.
Without this opportunity to travel to this region, it is unlikely
that I would have been able to experience the Middle East for
several years. As the Middle East is a region I want to undertake
research in, it was important to experience the culture of this
region early in my academic career. During my time in Istanbul,
I was able to experience the food, bartering in the shops and the
way a Middle Eastern city functions. This provided me with an
experience of a completely different culture to that in Europe
and has renewed my enthusiasm to research into the archaeology of the Middle East.

For an archaeologist, Istanbul is a city of major importance as the former capital of the Byzantine Empire and as
a powerful city throughout antiquity. Hence, the city contains
numerous highly important archaeological sites which span a
range of periods. I ensured I had a day either side of the conference which meant I was able to explore the city with some of
my colleagues. This meant I was able to visit the majority of the
major sites in Istanbul which included: The Blue Mosque, The
Hagia Sophia, The Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, the Sea and
Land Walls, and the Archaeology Museum Complex.

Many of these are archaeological buildings that I
studied as part of my undergraduate course and will continue to
be important in the course of my Masters degree. All archaeological sites are best seen in their present context and visiting
these places has improved my understanding of all of these
sites. Furthermore, I was able to see and gain an understanding
of how different the archaeology is in this region in comparison
to that in Western Europe; which is the area whose archaeology
I am most familiar with. This was also my first opportunity to
visit a mosque, as I have had very little experience of Islam and
it was fascinating to enter a functioning mosque.

The Russell Smith Award provided me with an un-

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I am very grateful to the St Aidan’s College Trusts Travel Fund
for partially funding my attendance at the 2014 International
Topology Conference, held on 3-7 July at Nafpaktos, Greece
(http://www.lepantotopology.gr/). Both the Travel Fund and the
partial sponsorship from the Mathematical Institute of Durham
University constituted a great and irreplaceable help towards
meeting the costs of attending this conference.

The conference is held every four years in different
locations in the historic city of Nafpaktos, Greece. Over two
hundred and fifty mathematicians working in a variety of fields
in Topology from more than 35 countries attended the 2014
meeting. About 150 contributed talks were presented at the
conference, featuring the latest developments in mathematics
research in the field of Topology. In order to accommodate all
the contributed talks, the conference programme was scheduled
in four parallel sections, which ran from 8:30 in the morning to
5:30 in the afternoon.

As anticipated in my application, I gave a professional
talk on ‘On the Regular and Normal Number of Topological
Spaces and Cardinal Invariants’. This talk was on research done
with Professor Maddalena Bonanzinga from the University of
Messina, Italy, and Dr Dimitrina Stavrova, from the University
of Leicester, UK. An abstract of the talk was published on pg 46
of the ‘Book of Abstracts’ of the conference, and was delivered

Bridge to Nafpaktos

Left to right: Professor Bonanzinga’s PhD student, Mrs Guizzeppe, Professor Bonanzinga,
Dr Stavrova, me.
on Sunday morning, July 6th. The talk raised interest and was
attended by a large audience, including such world-renowned
mathematicians as Professor Stylianos Negrepontis, University
of Athens, Greece, Professor Vasiliki Farmaki, University of
Athens, Greece, Professor Peter Nyikos, University of South
Carolina, USA, Professor Ljubisa Kocinac, University of Nis,
Serbia, Professor Szymon Dolecki, Burgundy Institute of Mathematics, France, Professor Anatolyi Gryzlov, Udmurt State University, Russia, Professor Angelo Bella, University of Catania,
Italy, and other prominent mathematicians. After the talk, I
was approached by Professor Nyikos, who congratulated me
on my good presentation and the interesting topics I had been
considering in my talk. We discussed further ideas of mutual
interest related to those I talked about. He encouraged me to
continue investigating this line of research and assured me that
it is interesting and worth considering. Professor Gryzlov and
Professor Kocinac also talked with me after my presentation,
highly praising it, and supported me to continue doing Topology. Professor Kocinac even shared that he has cited one of my
previous published papers in one of his latest research articles,
and that he was very surprised to find that I am not even yet a
doctoral student. We have also had discussions with Professor
Darko Kocev, who has also shared that another of my published
research papers was cited in one of his latest articles. We talked
about possible joint research investigations of mutual interest.

Over the course of the four days of the conference, I
had the opportunity to attend many talks by world-renowned
mathematicians. I would like to single out the talk of Professor
D. Koelzow from the Department of Mathematics, Universitat
Erlangen, Germany, who talked about ‘Exact Hausdorff Dimension – a Diophantic Survey’. His talk turned out to be closely
related to my MRes research topic at Durham University, under
the supervision of Dr Dmitry Badziahin, which had to do with
Diophantine Approximation, and examining the Hausdorff
Dimension of certain interesting sets of numbers, for example,
the set of well-approximable numbers. After his talk, we met
and had a fruitful discussion about the topic and directions for
future research. Professor Koelzow provided me with a full text
of the research papers on the basis of which his presentation
was made, which are not available on-line, and thus were very
valuable. Therefore, even though attending this conference is
not a direct part of my research degree, it complemented my
studies nicely.

I have also met many young PhD researchers, two
of whom were my former Oxford University colleagues, with

whom we had discussed possible topics of future research,
career-defining topics of investigation, and shared our own
results. Moreover, they gave me good practical advice on my
future doctoral studies.

The preliminary research, on the basis of which my
Nafpaktos presentation was made, and which was done through
email correspondence, resulted in a self-funded research visit
by Professor Bonanzinga in the fall of 2014, where we discussed
further questions and obtained new results and developments
alongside this topic. This visit took place at the University of
Leicester, where I started an EPSRC-funded doctoral training.
I believe that my joint work with Professor Bonanzinga and Dr
Stavrova, as well as my Nafpaktos talk, made my application
for this doctoral position even stronger, and also helped me
not only to obtain a place on the doctoral programme, but to
receive full funding, without which I would not have been able
to pursue a PhD study and would have had no chance of fulfilling my wish to pursue the career of an academic researcher.
As a result of our collaborative research in Leicester, we wrote
a paper, titled ‘Combinatorial Separation Axioms and Cardinal
Invariants’, which has recently been accepted for publication in
the prestigious professional journal ‘Topology and Its Applications’, published by Elsevier.

In reflection, I would say that I have achieved all the
goals I initially listed in my Travel Bursary Application Form
and even more. This conference and the talk I gave turned out
to be career-defining for me, as a scientific debut at an international professional conference. I not only developed many
transferable skills, such as presenting a paper to a professional
audience and networking with established mathematicians,
but also learned presentation skills from the best researchers in
the field, such as the editor of ‘Topology and Its Applications’,
Professor Jan van Mill, who gave the introductory talk of the
conference. Many research students share feelings of isolation,
and develop doubts about the meaningfulness of their research
programme and topics. After this conference, I felt more confident that what I am doing is valuable for a broad range of highly
skilled professionals. Thus, it is no understatement to say that
attending this conference helped me become acknowledged and
accepted in the professional community, and thus was of a great
personal and professional value.

News in Brief

Petra Staynova

Kate Heloise Ainsworth born 19th December 2008

Unfortunately, the snippets and updates section is very small this year, as anything sent in before September
2015 has been mislaid. We sincerely apologise for this but changes in personnel among both the college staff
and the alumni committee have made this impossible to rectify. However steps have been taken to ensure this
doesn’t happen again and we really hope that this doesn’t put you off contributing in the future. We know that
it is a favourite section for many of you. Please send news for the next edition to newsletter@aidans-alumni.
org.uk or to the college address on the back cover of this newsletter.
will be glad to know it is still running very well).
1980
Rosemary Lyon née Hughes
My news for the year is I am still heavily involved in Primary
Languages teaching. This year Geoff and I celebrated our Silver
Wedding.  Our two sons are both still at university. Just recently I was re-elected to the General Synod as a lay member for
Blackburn Diocese.

Still managing to see some fellow Aidan’s maidens
from 30 yrs ago- Jane Dawson and Jacqueline Mainwaring this
year.

1993
Emma (nee Barley) and Ben Fisher
After 12 years of primary school teaching, I finally gave this up
in 2012 and am now a Student Support Co-ordinator at Oxford
Brookes University, which has many similarities with being
JCR President! Ben is an Actuary with a Pensions Consultancy
and we still live in Oxford. We regularly catch up with many
Aidanites, spanning several years.

1996
Andrew Ainsworth
Married Cheryl Low - 27th August 2005
William John Ainsworth born 4th August 2006

Chloe Victoria Ainsworth born 26th August 2010
Emily Elizabeth Helen Ainsworth both 12th October 2012

2010
Ed Smith
It has been well over a year since I graduated now, and unlike
most Aidan’s graduates I have stuck around the North East for
the time being, setting up and building the Benelux market for
an Executive Search firm based in Newcastle.

Since graduating I have also been working on several
start-ups and plan to take one of these full time in the coming
months. I wouldn’t have considered self-employment a viable
option without my experiences at Durham, notably through Entrepreneurs Durham, but also from managing the college Shop
(those of you who had the fortune of having the Shop around

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News From Members

I visit Durham on a semi-frequent basis and pop
my head into Aidan’s every once in a while (mostly for student-priced beer). As a first time alumnus writer I’m not sure
what else one normally puts in these sections, but am hoping
this will suffice for now. I hope to meet some of you at one of
our alumni events coming up in the New Year.

2011
Jo Matthews
I am now working down south in Swanage, near Bournemouth,
where I work for a children’s charity called ‘the Wave’. Mainly I
work with local schools and churches and the local community
to set up new children’s activities to keep the children off the
street and to help parents in the local area. I spend a lot of time
running around looking stupid with kids ranging from tiny
little 1 week old babies to slightly more mature 12 year olds but
I love it! There are lots of challenges like when the 1 week old
baby won’t stop screaming or when the 12 year old ignores you
completely or when the additional needs children run round
in circles scared out of their minds but it’s a fantastic job and a
real privilege to get to work in such a lovely town… even if it is
in the middle of nowhere and smaller and more claustrophobic
than Durham!! Swanage is a beautiful place to live but it’s quite
isolated and the Isle of Wight is just over 16 miles away if you
were to row there directly. I rowed with SACBC for my four
years at Durham. I was part of a fantastic first VIII in my final
year (2014-2015) and was novice development captain 20122013. I’ve joined the local rowing club but it’s really odd- it’s gig
rowing and they do all sorts of weird things such as not having
slidey seats and calling bow side stroke side and vice versa. You
have to rock a lot further back than we used to because that is
where most of your momentum and power comes from and the
boats are massive wooden things. Oh, and we row on the sea
which means that there are some serious waves- we thought we
rowed in some rough conditions but that’s nothing compared to
what these people row in.

Anyway, when I’m ‘working’, I run toddler groups to
help young mums, help with rainbows, brownies and guides,
run afterschool kids clubs, help in two local primary schools,
organise special events such as carol services and light parties,
run Junior Church (children’s activities in Church) and generally just help out with what I can. It’s good fun and working in a
team of people is great but I do miss the rowing community up
north!

When I’m not working I’m still enjoying being busy
with loads of different commitments, seeing friends and Will
and looking for jobs for next year (I’m only in Swanage for
a year)- currently I’m thinking teaching or project management… but who knows!

A New Dawn

Graduates’ Weekend 2015

Hannah Futter gives her perspective on the Graduates Weekend 2015

Ben Fisher’s perspective on the recent Aidan’s Alumni Association AGM
I have always been aware of the Alumni Association, right from
a vague recollection of seeing its £30 membership fee in my
first college maintenance bill and quizzing the finalists about
what it was for. After leaving Aidan’s, I would enjoy reading
through the annual newsletter when it arrived through the
post, in particular I wanted to find out what all my cohort were
up to post Aidan’s - this was prior to the advent of Facebook.
Included in the newsletter would always be a short piece about
the annual AGM of the Alumni Association. I would read this
with mild interest, not recognising any of the names involved
and I certainly never thought it was something I would be going
along to….

Well, this year I found myself sat in the Lindisfarne
Centre on a Saturday afternoon in November eagerly (yes,
really) awaiting the start of the 2015 St Aidan’s Alumni Association AGM. So how did I get to be there? Well, it was through
my wife, Emma Fisher (nee Barley), a fellow Aidan’s Alumni,
and, in fact, as many of you will know, a former JCR President.
Two years ago, she was invited up to College to attend a past
Presidents’ dinner, at which a plea was made from the existing
Alumni Association Committee for new blood to get involved
in the Association and take it forward. A recent career change
meant Emma had a bit more free time, so she volunteered, but
on the proviso that I would help her out!

Over the next two years the reigns of the Association
were gradually handed over to Emma. In addition to this, the
current JCR started to realise that other College’s JCRs were
getting a lot more from their Alumni Associations than Aidan’s
was. So, the then JCR President (2014-15), Mark Barrett,
contacted Emma with a view to bringing the JCR & Alumni
Association closer together. Mark’s crusade was picked up by
his successor, Alice Dee (2015-16).

In an attempt to encourage attendance and participation by some of the College’s more recent matriculates, it was
decided to arrange the AGM to coincide with the annual Graduates’ Weekend and also with Durham’s now famous Lumiere
weekend. This seemed to work as over 25 of us gathered for the
meeting - a significant increase on recent AGMs.

Following a welcome by the current Principal, Susan
Frenk, the Association’s constitution was put in front of us. Its
brevity meant there were very few constraints on the Association and so we all recognised that effectively we had a blank
canvas to start from and a great opportunity to really re-launch
the association and increase its profile both with existing alumni, but also with the JCR, the alumni of the future.

The first action of the AGM was to elect George Thomas (JCR President 2013-14) as Chair of the meeting on a rowdy
general “Aye” and for me it felt just like being in a JCR meeting
again.

There was much discussion about how the Association
had operated in the past and how we thought that could/should
change going forwards, which involved lots of “big” ideas for
the future. However it was decided that perhaps it would be
more beneficial, given the infancy of the new committee, to set
five short term goals that we would look to achieve in the next
six months. They were:

1. Continue on building up the Association’s archive of college
memorabilia
2. Look to arrange an “informal” alumni event - perhaps away
from Durham
3. Update the Association’s website and develop its social media
presence
4. Move forward the planned Alumni careers mentoring service
for current Students - “After Aidan’s”
5. Review and update the Association’s Constitution
In addition to this, the 2015 edition of the Newsletter, the first
for two years, was nearing completion and planned for publication in January 2016.

So to meet these goals, and also the longer term aims
of the Association, a new list of committee positions were
drawn up and agreed on, after which everyone attending the
AGM was invited to fill them.

On Friday 13th November, 170 graduates of St. Aidan’s College
descended on Durham for a weekend back in the bubble. As the
train rolled into the station on Friday evening and the cathedral
came into view I felt a familiar feeling of homecoming. It is
impossible to get tired of the view from the train. It is both the
first and last memory of many Durham graduates and seems
to epitomise so much of life in the beautiful city. This feeling
was further compounded when I remembered that it wasn’t
a Sunday night returning from a weekend with my parents. I
didn’t have any impending summative deadlines or lectures or
hours to spend with Bill Bryson the next day. I had just 48 hours
to catch up with everyone I knew and to enjoy the city as an
outsider.

On Friday, the bar hosted a cocktails evening. Despite
the bar’s makeover during the summer holidays, we soon settled
back into student life as if we had never been away. It is also
surprising how much one appreciates the price of a pint in the
college bar after having lived in the real world. The first evening
was a little like the first day of Fresher’s Week, but in reverse
(and naturally much less socially awkward). Summer vacation
stories were swapped, work plans, lack of work plans and competition over pension schemes were discussed in depth. Times
had clearly changed. But when all was said and done, everyone
headed to Klute.

We were lucky enough that the Graduates’ Weekend
this year was held on the same weekend that Durham was hosting the Lumiere festival. The cathedral was adorned in lights
and the River Wear hosted a huge, illuminated whale. The city
was transformed and was even more magical than before. There

So here are the lucky volunteers, in no particular order:
Newsletter Officers - Emma Fisher (nee Barley) and Hannah
Futter
Archivist - Josh Stocco
Web Manager - Kenneth Sandman
Digital Communications Officer - Ethan Tamlyn
Reunion Officers - Ed Smith, Ben Fisher and Michael “Biggles”
Benbow.
Secretary - Alice Dee
Treasurer - Matthew Spencer
(Editor’s note: None of us have entered into this with the intention of keeping the work to ourselves! We all recognise that
our roles would be easier with people joining us to ‘lighten the
load’. Therefore, if Ben’s article has inspired you to get involved,
please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us using the contact
details on the back of this newsletter. We would welcome any
help offered from any of you – the more, the merrier!)

I think it’s fair to say that we all left the AGM with a
collective feeling of enthusiasm and optimism about the future
of the Association. Of course, what matters now is that the
Alumni Association increases its profile amongst both alumni
and students. They will then feel that they want to get involved
with it, because they will know that they can get something out
of it.

I am writing this just two weeks after the AGM and we
are already seeing progress within the committee - the website
is being updated, the Association now has a Facebook page and
plans are afoot for a March 2016 Alumni event. Hopefully by
the time you are reading this, the progress will start to be visible
to all Alumni and to the current JCR.
Ben Fisher (1995-97)
NB: Hopefully, by the time you read this, we will have the minutes of the AGM up on the Association’s website, so that you
can see what was discussed and decided in full.

News From St Aidan’s Alumni

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News From St Aidan’s Alumni

was a buzz about the place; it felt like the whole of Durham had
turned out especially to host St. Aidan’s Graduate’s weekend.

Saturday saw the Alumni AGM. There was a big push
at this year’s AGM which saw all of the committee positions
filled and huge steps forward to re-establish the Alumni Association in the hearts and minds of past Aidanites. Exciting plans
were hatched and there is an energy in the committee to really
make the association work for its members.

The big event of the weekend was the Graduates’ Formal. This was the first year where the weekend attracted alumni
other than those that had graduated the previous summer. This
is a tradition that can only get stronger and it was fantastic to
meet Aidanites from across the years. The usual formal revelry
prevailed and reached its crescendo with a four hour karaoke
stint in the bar. In between renditions of Total Eclipse of the
Heart, stories of the big, scary ‘life after Aidan’s’ were swapped. I
have always been overwhelmed (and a little intimidated) by the
variety of passions and enthusiasms that students of Durham
University pursue. Life after Durham is no different. It’s always
sad to leave those that we were closest to, but I left Durham
train station on Sunday feeling enthused after spending a
weekend surrounded by such a variety of interesting people.
The weekend did not disappoint and I hope that the momentum
from this fantastic event will mean that our alumni community
can continue to grow. And when all is said and done, we can all
head to Klute.
Hannah Futter

What’s in Your Attic

The 2017 reunion

The archive team is expanding, so now let’s grow the archive!

St Aidan’s Alumni Association - Reunions update

Archive Team News

The last reunion organised by the Association was back in 2012.
Following that, it was decided to have a break and refocus on
the College’s next significant milestone – its 70th Anniversary.
This will be 2017 and a date has now been set for it:

The Reunion Officers provide us with the latest news on their work

Jan Collinge provides us with the latest news on the college archive

The SAA Archive Team now has an archivist, as new graduate Joshua Stocco has just volunteered for this role – Welcome, Josh, and
thank you! Jan Collinge is staying on for the meanwhile with the role of commissioning the SAA display case to be sited in college
reception, in time for an official unveiling at our 70th anniversary reunion in July 2017. Joy Barton, who has very conveniently
retired back to Durham, will be looking after display changes, assisted no doubt by other volunteers within easy reach of Durham,
so if this appeals to you (or any aspect of archive volunteering), please contact Josh (archive@aidans-alumni.org.uk).
Access and Display

Looking forward to seeing you all in July 2017 and hopefully
before.

In time, we aspire to making all the photographs and scans accessible to all alumni. Original artefacts are now kept in the safety
of the Palace Green archive, the catalogue for which is already available online. This can be accessed via the archive section of the
Association’s website (www.aidans-alumni.org.uk). St. Aidan’s Association is to fund the display case described above and we are
looking at using the extensive display potential of the long corridors in college for more archive material. In the first instance, a set
of six sketches by Sir Basil Spence showing his original vision for the college (and the planned chapel) are to be displayed in college
reception opposite the front entrance and these, along with the SAA display and portraits of Principals, will greet freshers, and all
visitors, creating a fitting welcome to a college with a rich and varied history.

The Reunions Team:
Ed Smith (2010-2014)
Michael Benbow (2007-2010)
Ben Fisher (1995-97)
reunions@aidans-alumni.org.uk

The Archive
So, now it’s time to grow the contents of the archive. We do have some good artefacts, photos and other materials already but there
is much much more out there, most likely in your attic! We all have boxes of ‘stuff ’ that we treasure but rarely look at so the plan is
for volunteers to look after between 1 and 5 years of matriculates with the aim of collecting one of everything relevant to that year event posters, ball invitations, programmes, photographs (with names…), sporting awards and so much more.

So please make sure we have the correct email address for you. If you do not get emails from Durham or have changed
your address recently then you can update your contact details at: https://www.dunelm.org.uk (if you experience any problems
with this you can contact the alumni association secretary, Alice Dee – secretary1@aidans-alumni.org.uk) and you’ll be hearing
from us soon.

Friday 7th to Sunday 9th July 2017
The Association’s newly elected Reunions team are just starting
work on preparing a full programme of events for the weekend,
but no doubt the centre piece will be a formal dinner in College
on the Saturday night.

We want to do whatever it takes to get as many of
you as possible up to Durham for the reunion. So please let us
know what it would take to get YOU and YOUR alumni friends
to come. Send your suggestions to us using the contact details
below.

Unlike recent reunions, there is no particular target
cohort – we would like to welcome alumni from throughout St
Aidan’s 70 year history. As it is being held outside of term-time,
there will be plenty of rooms available in College, including
ensuite rooms.
In the meantime, we are also looking to arrange some smaller,

Jan Collinge

News From St Aidan’s Alumni

more informal events both in Durham and elsewhere in the UK
– the first of these is planned to coincide with the 2016 Head of
the River race on the Thames in London on the 19th March.

As further reunion details emerge, we will be putting
them up on our website and also on the Association’s new
Facebook page and Twitter feed. If you have any questions or
suggestions, please contact the Reunions team using the contact
email below, or by writing to the Association via the address on
the back cover of this newsletter.

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News From St Aidan’s Alumni

Degree Results
Due to the requirements of data protection, we now have to
seek the express permission of each graduate to publish their
degree result.
Consequently, we have had to withdraw this issue’s results
but hope to address this in future issues. We have included
the table below to give a flavour of how the students performed.

Degree Classification
I
II:i
II:ii
III
Ordinary

13/14
27%
62%
10%
0.5%
0.5%

14/15
28%
60%
11%
1%
-

College Awards and Prizes
2013 - 2014

College Council Membership
2013 - 2014

College Council Membership
2014 - 2015

Mrs Susan Johnson

Mrs Susan Johnson

Chair

Chair

Mrs Tricia Jackson
Secretary

Dr Susan Frenk
Principal

Mr Stefan Klidzia
Vice-Principal & Senior
Tutor

Mrs Tricia Jackson
Secretary

Dr Susan Frenk
Principal

Mr Stefan Klidzia
Vice-Principal & Senior
Tutor

Small Bursary Fund – Llywelyn Lee, Emily McDonald and Ben
Murray

Mrs Paula Dawson

Bursar

Mrs Paula Dawson

Bursar

Bruce and Pat McGowan Award – Rebecca Lowe

Professor Christopher Higgins

Vice-Chancellor

Professor Ray Hudson

Acting Vice-Chancellor

Clark Travel Scholarship – Tanvir Ahmad, Aaron Briddick,
Timothy Haughton, Kevin De Michelis and James Kessell

Professor Graham Towl

Deputy Warden

Professor Graham Towl

Deputy Warden

Council Appointee
JCR President

Mr Paul Leake

Mr Mark Barratt

Council Appointee

Small Bursary Scholarship – Rhiann McAlister and Nihan
Tokac

Mr Paul Leake

Mr George Thomas

Duerden Award – Miranda Nixon and Rebecca Wall

Miss Alex Shepherd

JCR Treasurer

Miss Lauren Polson

JCR Treasurer

College Awards and Prizes
2014 - 2015

Mr Cameron Clegg

Mr Rowan Adams

SCR President

Ms Hao Zhou

Mr Ollie Jackson

SCR President

Alumni Association Award – Laura Ballantyne

Russell Smith Award – Casey Gillchrist, Kate Katigbak, Kate
Moberly, Petra Staynova and Rachael Sycamore

Leslie Clark Award – Oliver Headlam-Morley
Alumni Association Award – Paul Cohen
Russell Smith Award – Elham Amini, Katherine Flach, Rozzie
Harrison, Rebecca Lowe, Susan McLean, William Moody, Jitu
Thakur, Nihan Tokac, Michael Yates and Hao Zhou
Bruce and Pat McGowan Award – Redmond Strivens
Duerden Award – Helen McKaigue

Results and Prizes

63

JCR Livers-out Rep

JCR President

JCR Livers-out Rep

Miss Hao Zhou
Postgraduate
Representative(s)

Mr Shehhab Laulloo
Postgraduate
Representative(s)

Mr David Littlefair

Mentor Representative(s)

Mr David Littlefair

Mentor Representative(s)

Professor Martin Ward

Council Appointee

Professor Martin Ward

Council Appointee

Mr Matthew Spencer

Mr Sam Dale

Alumni Representative

Mr Matthew Spencer

Mr Sam Dale

Alumni Representative

Emma Hamlett

External Member

Ms Emma Wilson

Acting Secretary

Co-opted member

Co-opted member

College Officers 2013 - 2014

College Officers 2014 - 2015

Dr Susan Frenk, Principal

Dr Susan Frenk, Principal

Mr Stefan Klidzia, Vice-Principal and Senior Tutor

Mr Stefan Klidzia, Vice-Principal and Senior Tutor

Mrs Paula Dawson, Bursar

Mrs Paula Dawson, Bursar