Home Featured Reflections on Cambridge: Colleen Robinson

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This year we changed venues and took up residence at Sydney Sussex College, situated in the heart of the maze of ancient streets and alleyways around which the University of Cambridge has grown up over the past 400 years.

Despite being in the middle of the bustling shopping area of Cambridge, once we entered the gates we found a haven for learning, contemplation, rest and relaxation. The usual ground rules were agreed from the start to ensure that everyone had the best chance to take advantage of the opportunity. The key ones were to eat and sleep well for energy, listen and participate fully, respect each other and the environment, challenge yourself and enjoy the experience. Some were genuinely panicked at the prospect of no mobile phones or other electronic devices for a whole week but surprised themselves when, by the end of the week they reflected on just how the time had whizzed by.

“It was inspiring to hear the students speak at the end of the week of how much they had gained, in terms of self esteem, confidence, personal growth, and understanding of their potential and how to live up to it”

The week was certainly packed with learning. Working a fifteen hour day every day, students were saturated in knowledge, information and opportunities to explore and develop skills and capabilities they themselves did not realise they had. Parents often ask “what do you teach?” Well nothing conventional. During the week the tutors take students on a journey through a range of interactive experiences to open their minds to who they are, what they are capable of and how to avoid the pitfalls in life which can prevent you from achieving your best. Some of the key Modules and experiences included:

  • Ÿ  The Power of Focus and how to achieve it,
  • Ÿ  The Art of Debate including full participation in a live debate
  • Ÿ  Presenting yourself  and projecting confidence in your arguments, culminating in a formal presentation to parents and sponsors on Thursday evening
  • Ÿ  Golden Heritage, a fascinating insight into the rich history of black peoples
  • Ÿ  Building Resilience and how to identify and surround yourself with Good Company
  • Ÿ  Goal Setting – Planning your future
  • Ÿ  The rituals, customs and convention of life at a top university, culminating in a formal Dinner on Thursday evening

A packed week, exhausting and exhilarating. Made possible by the truly magnificent support from all the staff at Sydney Sussex College and Christ‘s College. The insights into university life and history provided by Colin, the head Porter at Sydney Sussex, were invaluable and we are all grateful to him for taking time out to share his knowledge and experience with the students. Only regret is that the parents were robbed of the opportunity to hear from him directly due to the delays caused by inclement weather.

We also had a lot of fun: we exercised at 7.00am, we toured Cambridge, we visited Museums with fascinating Black Artwork, we created our own Art at Kettles Yard and some people had enough energy left for some serious competition on the pool and fooseball tables.

After all that it was inspiring to hear the students speak at the end of the week of how much they had gained, in terms of self esteem, confidence, personal growth, and understanding of their potential and how to live up to it. A hugely successful week.

source: Colleen Robinson

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