22 SEPTEMBER 2023
Our annual Dart Scholar enrichment trip took place this summer after a three-year COVID-19 hiatus, bringing six students together for two weeks of culture, education, friendship and fun. From Cayman to Oxford to London and back again, the journey marked an unforgettable experience for this group of bright and inspired minds.
It was the last weekend in July when Dart Scholars Nathan Alston, Siri Batta, Jaiden Gilbert, Jade Robinson and Erin Shaughness boarded a Heathrow-bound flight with their chaperone Glenda McTaggart, senior manager of education programmes at Dart. Meeting them across the pond was another Dart Scholar, Jake Fagan, who had a head start in his travels and eagerly awaited their arrival. Excited for what was to come, the group embarked on a life-enriching passage through some of England’s finest educational institutions and most exceptional attractions.
Their packed itinerary included two weeks of academic immersion at the prestigious University of Oxford’s Oxford Scholastica Academy (OSA), tours of several Russell Group universities – UK institutions comparable to US Ivy League schools, various cultural activities including a visit to Windsor Castle and endless opportunities to bond as peers, meet new people and explore the city of London.
First stop, Oxford.
Upon arriving in Heathrow, the scholars headed straight to Oxford’s historic campus for their two-week stint at OSA, an intensive programme that combines university-style teaching with academic challenges and cultural experiences. Each OSA participant is given the opportunity to select a course of their choice for the duration of the programme, allowing them to focus on their field of interest in a small class setting.
For our scholars, classes began bright and early Monday morning, after a welcome dinner at the Saïd Business School the night before. They dove right into the OSA courses they each selected, which included Engineering, Medicine, Psychology and Neuroscience and International Relations, Politics and Leadership.
Mornings were spent in class where our scholars focused on each of their selected courses, which are designed to inspire and empower students to think for themselves.
Erin Shaughness, Jaiden Gilbert and Jake Fagan participated in the Engineering programme, which offers students insights into key concepts and an authentic taste of what it’s like to study Engineering at university.
The course got us really involved in the topics that we were learning about. For example, when we were learning about the different types of bridges used in the structural engineering lesson, we had the opportunity to make some of our own bridges using a variety of materials.
Siri Batta immersed herself in Medicine, which involved real clinical cases and a look at the future of health care. Nathan Alston concentrated on his Psychology and Neuroscience classes, where he explored social psychology, human interaction and the connection between language and thought. Jade Robinson spent her mornings absorbed examining the importance of relationships between nations and cultures as part of the International Relations, Politics and Leadership course.
During the course, I dissected a pig's heart (as part of our cardiology topic), learned and practiced CPR on a dummy (as part of our respiration topic) and sutured a banana. Performing the hands-on side of Medicine for the first time was a very eye-opening, interesting and fun experience!
Afternoons included a range of activities, from OSA Masterclasses to adventures in punting and visits to gardens and palaces. The evenings gave students a chance to get to know each other better and discuss their classes over dinners on and off campus. After dinner, they socialised at events such as a gala on a boat, a treasure hunt and an amusing display of performances at Oxford’s Got Talent. Their first Thursday included a day trip to the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world – Windsor Castle.
For two weeks, they diligently completed their course work and happily engaged in every assignment, cultural tour and social activity. They met new people, made new friends and enjoyed a level of independence that challenged them to complete each course at their own pace.
I absolutely loved the people at [Oxford]. I was thrilled to discover that while everybody there shared the common goal of learning and making friends, beyond that, we could not be more different. This made the experience so culturally and intellectually enriching.
I enjoyed being able to meet many different people from all over the world and spend time together doing different activities such as punting.
Next stop, London.
On their second Saturday, after saying goodbye to their Oxford teachers and peers, our scholars headed southeast to enjoy an energetic, four-day sojourn in The Big Smoke. Here, they walked like never before and they each experienced something new – whether it was riding the Tube, learning to cook or watching a live theatre performance.
Clocking an average of 24,000 steps per day, the scholars travelled around the city each day exploring many cultural and historic sites by foot or via a hop-on-hop-off bus or the London Underground. They also met up with other Dart Scholars who are currently enrolled in London universities.
[In London] the hop-on, hop-off bus was a great ride and the Italian restaurant along the River Thames, where we had authentic Italian food, was definitely something to remember. The university tours were an invaluable opportunity to say the least. I’m glad I had the privilege to be a part of this trip.
University visits included a tour of Imperial College followed by lunch with Dart University Scholar Alumnus Marcos Bertran, who studied biomedical engineering, followed by an afternoon visit to Kings College London Campus and a guided tour of London School of Economics.
On their second to last morning, they headed over to University College London (UCL) to visit Dart Scholar Alumnus Kirsten Ebanks – who is nearing completion of her PhD in Neurology for a tour, followed by lunch on the canal in Granary Square.
No trip to London is complete without a visit to Covent Garden, —where our scholars enjoyed an outstanding meal; or a live show at The London Palladium, where they were captivated by incredible performances and sophisticated sets in The Wizard of Oz. London was the icing on the enrichment cake for our Dart Scholars, rounding out an unforgettable summer trip and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Musical theatre is something I am very involved in at school, so attending The Wizard of Oz in London’s West End was truly an unforgettable experience.
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