Ava and her friends from the summer camp visit Oxford. (Photo by Frank Noon.)
Ava, an American teenager, blogs about visiting the UK to explore higher education opportunities during last year’s British Council Summer Camp programme. A new group of teens departs the US today.
Every year, the events of September 11, 2001, are marked by the remembrance of the lives lost at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. For a few hours, the bustling Financial District in Manhattan comes to a standstill in a show of respect for the past. This tribute, which has become tradition over the last decade, marks not only another year since the attacks, but also another year in which the families affected have been able to grow and heal. Children too young to remember their lost parents are now teenagers and young adults attempting to make futures for themselves.
One amazing opportunity that has been provided for teenagers directly affected by 9/11 is the British Council Summer Camp. Far from your typical summer camp, the programme is a ten-day visit to the UK for the twenty-five selected applicants. Over the course of the trip, the teenagers experience the culture of cities such as Edinburgh, Birmingham and Conwy, Wales, while also exploring the bountiful choices for higher education that the cities have to offer.
I went on the trip last summer. In the span of ten days, I learned how to play a gamelan at City University London, crashed into a bird’s nest while attempting to punt in Oxford, and felt a huge rush from standing at the top of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. (This was also after downing a few Irn-Brus.) As a result of my experiences in the UK, I was able to start to piece together the studies I want to pursue at university. During the past school year, I kept in touch with the amazing British Council staff that I met and managed to get an internship in the Washington, DC office for this summer.
In a few weeks I will be starting my first year of university at New York University where I will earn a degree in Global Liberal Studies, but I am planning on studying abroad in Edinburgh because I was so charmed by the city itself and the people who inhabit it. Being given the privilege of attending the programme has helped me to discover what I enjoy doing and consequently helped me to gain work experience. The British Council Summer Camp has had a huge impact on my life and enabled me to form the beginnings of my future as an adult.
This year’s participants will be leaving for the UK today. Many of them are going to be seniors in high school in September. I have no doubt that this trip will help guide them in choosing which universities to apply to and expose them to possibilities that they never previously considered. My advice to them is to keep an open mind and take advantage of every opportunity available to them in the UK. The teenagers will learn from their surroundings and even each other. The British Council Summer Camp aids the participants in focusing on the future instead of the past.
Watch the video below to see what this year’s students are looking forward to.