Our Politics and International Relations lessons are producing some of the liveliest and most thoughtful discussions and debates in ORA history. Perhaps that is due to the particularly fascinating and unnerving political climate in which we as an international community find ourselves this year. Students have been eager to hear the personal views of teacher Tena Thau, who hails from the US ―they’ve taken the opportunity to get a native take on Trump, his reneging on the Paris agreement, and the current tensions with North Korea. She is expecting nuanced and critical treatments of these and other topics in students’ presentations this week ―a subject of especial interest is terrorism, and whether or not current counter-terrorism strategies are proving effective.
Students got an in-depth view of the university experience as counsellors led a University Life seminar, discussing their own experiences of university and answering students’ burning questions on applications, lifestyle, and the different types of courses on offer at UK universities. Students enjoyed hearing first-hand accounts from counsellors, especially concerning what university is like when one actually gets there ―they agreed that a lot of discussions they’d had before this one were about grades and requirements, rather than the actual university experience itself, and that this seminar was a welcome variation on the theme.
Thence to Much Ado about Nothing, as students left behind the serious considerations of the day to immerse themselves in Shakespeare’s comedy, performed outside in Wadham College gardens by the Oxford Shakespeare Company. The production was a creative take on the original, bringing the Messina setting into the era of the Second World War; rather than the Battle of Lepanto, Shakespeare’s characters were fending off Allied bombardment and Nazi occupation in the latter stages of the international conflict. Despite a quick and bracing rainshower, students thoroughly enjoyed the production, especially when the actors invited them to join the congregation for the famous wedding scene.