Dr Sarah Williamson, Director of Summer Programmes, talks about the start of King’s Summer Programmes in London.
We love the summer! Normal work closes down. People get out and about more and enjoy longer, slower days. There seems to be more time and more energy for life outside of the everyday. When I took this job, I did so knowing that my summers were about to change. Instead of heading away from London or catching a plane out of the UK on holiday, summer would become my busiest work time and I would spend it in London. But somehow I knew that working over the summer would not be like working at another time of the year. Summer is magical. Summer is special. Summer can’t help but be full of possibilities! And so that has turned out to be true (lucky for me otherwise this would be a very different blog!).
London in the summer is an incredible place to be and two weeks ago, 364 Undergraduate Summer School students arrived on campus to experience it for themselves. From Brexit debates on a boat trip down the Thames at sunset to Royal Parks with and without umbrellas. Each day is different but all of them start with hard graft. Some summer students kick start their London days in world-changing bio laboratories (drug discovery, cancer research, stem cells research, forensic science) and end them in west end shows and east end pubs. Others spend their waking hours studying London history and handling artefacts at the Museum of London on the Curating the City course. Then there are those working to understand human rights law – never more fundamental to our world than now with the profound migrant crisis in Europe brought about by displaced people from conflict zones like Syria. You don’t get more cutting edge learning than in the Friday masterclasses taught by the United Nations Refugee Agency! And frankly, to my mind there’s no point studying in one of the world’s most global of metropolises without drawing on the full community resources available and at King’s that means learning from practitioners as well as our academics. Practitioners in all senses, since next session some visiting students will have made quite an incredible journey to the classroom: ten will be recipients of summer scholarships, gifted by King’s Summer Programmes to refugees that the UN Refugee Agency is supporting.
Two weeks in, everyone has had a proper taste of the sheer size and diversity of the great city of London with all its hearts, minds and spirits operating at 100mph. Before they know it, it will be time to leave. And who could have predicted that they will have been in town at just the moment that Britain gets a new Prime Minister and its second woman leader. Times they are a changing and I know 364 visitors to the capital who saw it all happen first hand…