In the summer of 2012, Danny Persia spent three weeks in London as a Fulbright Scholar on the King’s Summer School. Below he speaks about his experiences…
”Will competition overshadow the transformation of a community? What will be left out when the Olympic experience is “translated” by the media to nations across the globe?’ These were two central questions I had when applying to a US-UK Fulbright Summer Institute at King’s College London, focused on the 2012 Olympic Games. I was drawn to the Summer School because of how King’s College works across “traditional disciplinary boundaries” and holds research to an “international standard.” Motivated to learn more about the UK, and to see how a country that shares a language approaches meaning in its own way, I soon set out for three of the most incredible weeks of my life.
Where to begin! Living in the Stamford Street apartments, I walked with my classmates to King’s every morning across the Waterloo Bridge. We lived in Central London, near Parliament and the London Eye, in the heart of the city, with a stunning view by night. We ventured out to Brixton Market, to Camden and even to Oxford and Stonehenge, embracing the culture of not only London, but of the entire UK.
As the Olympics progressed, I became more and more intrigued by the regeneration of London’s East End and the Olympic ambition to “Inspire a Generation.” I think the King’s Summer School embraces that very mission. Enrolled in Jason Luger’s course, “The Olympic City: Global Games, Local Impact,” I was taught to analyze the Olympic bid and the transformation of London through a critical lens. Studying alongside students from around the world, I was able to use London as a living laboratory, blending in-class discussions with my own experiences on the streets.
The Opening Ceremony showcased a country proud of its culture—Mr. Bean, James
Bond parachuting with the Queen from a helicopter, and thousands of people singing “Hey Jude,” not to mention the Parade of Nations, which marked the diversity of the Games. Watching the ceremony with King’s students from nearby Victoria Park, with fireworks overhead, was certainly a highlight of our trip.
Sometimes the unexpected moments stay with us the longest. I remember walking through Piccadilly Circus one night with the other Fulbright students, not knowing where we were going, just listening to the city, finding the hidden side streets and stumbling upon our first British pub. I remember the afternoon when I struck up a conversation with a woman from Germany. We started sharing our stories of how we had arrived at the Olympics, and she offered me a ticket to the Olympic Stadium for Athletics the following day. And I remember sitting in the German fan section that next day, admiring the Olympic flame, cheering for the UK, the US, and Germany!
Reflecting back on my experience, it’s incredible how much London has impacted me. The city, the people, King’s College and the US-UK Fulbright Commission—all have left a mark on how I listen to stories and how I see our world as I continue to travel, ask questions and learn about different cultures.
I’m proud to say that I’m a King’s Summer School alumnus. And as I continue to pursue my undergraduate degree at Denison University in the coming months, I will certainly hold my experience at King’s, and with Fulbright, near.’