Impressions of the UK

A few Experimenters had a late start to the day after waking up late. Today EIL would be walking around London and seeing the city, some for the first time. We walked through Leicester Square and browsed a few shops. UK Pride was happening on the same day so many people were out and about. After crossing the Thames we got sandwiches for lunch. Experimenters found comfort in the people around them and started opening up to each other. England won their world cup game at this time so excitement was high.

We spent an hour at the tate museum where we saw a lot of different art. As a group we took the tube for the first time back to International Hall and went out in small groups for dinner. All and all it was a long day but an eventful one. Everybody went to bed ready for tomorrow and the London Eye! – Louis

The following day began with a traditional EIL activity, in which we wrote our hopes and fears. All confessions were anonymous, however everyone shared random secrets, allowing for us to reflect on our goals for the duration of the program. This was one of my favorite parts of the day because it allowed for everyone to have the opportunity to share with one another and help each other with our fears in regards to host families. – Asha

On the third night, students indulged their theater interests by seeing an immersive performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. While the play itself is a romance with a strong magical twist, its presentation was done in a way that many in the group had not experienced before. The show began in the spacious gardens outside the venue, but after every few scenes, the entire audience would up and move to another area where a completely different stage and set was constructed. The actors were wildly talented and entertaining and the entire group enjoyed the performance as well as the unique experience. – Ches

One of the most impactful moments was our visit to World Write, an independent media organization. Here is student Dianney’s perspective:

After one day of instruction on how to set up cameras. in partnership with the British organization WORLDBytes, which aims to train citizens in camerawork and journalism, my classmates and I were sent to the streets of Dalston in East London to ask the people’s feelings on the cost of living in the city. I was tasked with pulling people from the street to interview for the documentary, which was, in my opinion, the hardest position.

I knew a few things about the expenses of city life being from Manhattan, but mostly through processes like gentrification, which wasn’t really a problem in London. Going into a conversation where I wasn’t knowledgeable was a foreign arrangement to me and one where I was vulnerable.

But I soon learned it wasn’t so much about talking as it was about listening. Initially, I would try to stop people by explaining the issue to them, but being inhabitants of London they obviously already know! I then began asking people questions like “What’s the biggest problem you face economically?” or “How do you cope with rising prices?” and once they felt they were being acknowledged, some couldn’t stop talking before we got them in front of the camera.

Although I could still hear my mom screaming “Stranger Danger!” in the back of my head approaching people and getting to listen to their stories and struggles was an amazing experience and has taught me a valuable lesson. Being from New York City and being involved in so many things related to social justice, I often get trapped in echo chambers where views and opinions I already agree with are parroted back to me in liberal affirmation sessions disguised as debates. But maybe it’s time to slow down, take out my headphones, and talk to real people.

Student Jason said we learned the do’s and don’ts of the interviewing and filming by high class teaching WorldWrite and learned some amazing features on a filming camera from learning how to frame in an interview precisely to adjusting to outdoor and indoor brightness in grain, white balance, and shutter speed. After a delicious lunch of cheesecake and baked potatoes, we even got quizzed on the material in three different teams. The teams were Cheesecake, Whumpers, and bananas. Whumpers and bananas managed to capture first place in a two way tie. As we get back to work, we learned more features of the camera that we missed out on.

The following day involved a mixture of culture, media and politics. Between visiting the press regulations office and sipping cups of tea, the day was packed with a constant series of surprises. Starting the day with an early walk to the International Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) Lauren Sloan, one of the complaints officers at IPSO, talked to us about the regulations and the process of fulfilling a filed complaint. After a short presentation, we were fully knowledgeable about the regulations in the Editors’ Code.

The walk to the Oscar Wilde Lounge at Hotel Cafe Royal for a traditional British high tea did not take that long. Decked out with gold accents and comfy red chairs complemented the elegant vibe of the tea room. Ranging from egg salad to smoked salmon, we stuffed ourselves with the various flavors. A second round of tea came with stacks of fruit-flavored scones and dessert delicacies.

Once we cleared the doorway, we were met by a sea of locals, protesting the arrival of United States President, Donald Trump, who just landed in London. Across the street on a balcony, you could see journalists filming and reporting on the protest. There is no doubt that the protest will be in the news tomorrow. – Kailee

Back in the dorm lounge, we gathered as a group to debrief our first week abroad and to prepare for our trip north tomorrow. Next stop – Southport, Liverpool and Manchester!