Oxford Royale has featured in the following press articles:
Middle Eastern students are flocking to Oxford for a summer of study. Bianca Brigitte Bonomi discovers a new world of learning.
IMAGINE A SUMMER of picnics in meadows, poetry in parks and an occasional lazy day punting on a glorious river basking in the golden, but temperate sun. Consider expanding your mind in a renowned city of archaic splendour; discovering new concepts, familiarising yourself with a new language, and having bucket loads of fun in the process. Sound ideal?
You can now translate this heavenly imagining into reality, thanks to a host of Oxford summer schools catering to the needs of international students. And there is good news for Middle Eastern youngsters hoping to improve their chances of university entry, looking to learn a new skill, or just hoping to meet new friends. A range of summer schools are waking up to the opportunities afforded by the Middle East and working hard to attract youngsters from this part of the world.
Their work is reaping rewards. An increasing number of Middle Eastern students are spending their summer vacations in the English city of Oxford. Famed for its internationally acclaimed university and bustling, cobbled streets, Oxford is the ideal place to study.
The Oxford Royale Academy is one of the most popular of the summer schools. Operating under the banner ‘Learn to travel, travel to learn', the academy caters for a range of international students, including adults and children, and boasts a broad curriculum encompassing a variety of subjects. Traditional English language classes are run alongside more specialised courses, ranging from intensive Shakespeare to Medical School Preparation. Perhaps most exciting for potential students is the fact that accommodation is offered in Oxford colleges, so that youngsters can enjoy a real taste of Oxford life.
But students reading this with horror etched on their faces can breathe a sigh of relief. If you don't want to spend your school holidays with your head in a book, then rest assured that the summer schools offer more than just classroom learning. An exciting array of cultural and sporting afternoon activities consolidates the educational programme. Students can select from pursuits as diverse as drama, journalism and cricket or can choose to enrol in the newly launched Tennis Academy. In addition, regular excursions enable students to visit and explore famous British landmarks and places of interest. Many of these trips tie in with the morning classes, so that a visit to Winston Churchill's beautiful birthplace of Blenheim Palace will corroborate a lesson on the famous speeches delivered by the British wartime Prime Minister.
I'm invited to drop in on one of the colleges. The number of Middle Eastern students that I encounter surprises me. Many are enrolled in the Young Prodigies Programme, which welcomes bright 10-13 year olds, already adept at speaking English, to study a comprehensive syllabus of humanities and science subjects. Sara Bin Laden, a youngster from Saudi Arabia, tells me how much she has enjoyed the classes and has surprised herself by taking part in poetry recital evenings and even a production of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Young Prodigy Juri Al-Agili is similarly pleased with what she has learned and the range of students she has met. So successful has the school become that Easter and Christmas programmes are now being offered.
But, I ask one of the on-site staff, how do the children really cope with being so far away from home?
"We find that when the children first arrive they can be a little apprehensive. For many of them, this is their first trip away from their parents and it can take time to adjust to the new, unfamiliar surroundings. Once they start meeting the other students their age, playing games and learning in small groups, however they quickly overcome their initial nerves. We provide a safe and secure environment, which is why parents trust us with their children. We offer a brilliant range of exciting classes and activities, which is why children trust us to have a great time", the counsellor tells me.
Parents can of course choose to accompany their children to Oxford and stay locally throughout the programme. For the vast majority of students, however, this is their first glimmer of independence. Student welfare officers and counsellors are on hand 24 hours a day to ensure that children are healthy and happy. They are able to contact their parents as frequently as they need to.
Most importantly of all, the summer school's ethos is to let the children have fun. Eleven year old Fawaz Al Bassam from Kuwait puts it simply: "I have learned a great deal about literature and science. But I have also learned the value of friendships. We have laughed and learned together and I hope to keep in touch with many of the friends that I have made here."
For more information, visit http://www.oxford-royale.co.uk/
By Loris T., Dedham, MA
Last summer, I decided to explore the world outside the United States. One of my teachers recommended a program at Oxford University, but I was skeptical. Though I didn't know much about England, I always imagined it to be similar to the U.S. so it was not my idea of an exotic location. However, I believed taking an course in European history would enhance my understanding, so I looked at the program's website and immediately became interested.
The Oxford Royale Academy summer program offers English language courses for non-English speakers and an Historico-Cultural course for English speakers over the age of 16. The program is very flexible and can be divided into either a two-week or a three-week session, with customized trips. The course aims to serve as an insight into English culture and traditions by providing lectures from University professors and seminars with world-renowned academics.
Unlike some, the Oxford Royale application is impressively convenient. The program offers rolling admission with immediate response and once admitted, you can customize your courses. During 2005, participants took advantage of this opportunity by hiring tutors. Some integrated mathematical components while others refined their musical talents. Upon acceptance, Oxford Royales ends an information package including a welcome letter, a list of necessities, flight information and maps.
When I arrived at Exeter College, I felt like I had gone back in time. The buildings exuded an air of historic importance and even though it was night, I could see that the campus was beautiful. I was greeted by a throng of people from Germany, France, Italy, Korea, Hong Kong, Canada, Mexico, Portugal and both coasts of the United States. Despite any previous reservations about the program, I instantly felt comfortable.
I participated in a two-week session and in my first week attended lectures on Norman England, the Middle Ages, the Tudors and the Stuarts. Discussions included the development of nationalism and the importance of religion. The second week included lectures on the Georgians, the Victorians, 20th Century Britain, and World War II. Discussions, which were based around economics, politics and society, were geared toward understanding modern Britain.
One of the most interesting lectures was on Shakespeare. Led by Jane Humphreys, it was based on a psychological analysis of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Her interpretation launched a discussion on marriage, love and human relationships. The most provocative lecture was led by Richard Dawkins and based on his book The Selfish Gene. In a group consisting of many cultural backgrounds, Dawkins' questions about evolution shook many of our belief systems. He challenged our convictions and sparked a discussion on race, religion and morality.
Besides academics, Oxford provides sightseeing tours for a fee. Blue Badge guides led our day trips and weekend trips. Day trips included Stonehenge, Broughton Castle, WarwickCastle, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Waddeston Manor, and museums. The overnight options included trips to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. Many of us also enjoyed the August weather and played cricket, croquet, football and even Ultimate Frisbee in the park.
The most impressive feature of the program was the administration's attention to detail. During my preparations, the director regularly e-mailed me and offered to help with any problems. He even picked me up at the airport! There was no concern they didn't attend to. For example, a language student from Portugal was interested in attending "The Phantom of the Opera" in London but didn't know how to organize it. Although the musical wasn't on our list of activities, the staff took it upon themselves to invite all of us and found tickets. These are just a few examples of the staff's dedication.
In addition to an amazing staff, challenging academics and a plethora of activities, the students are phenomenal. Because the program is so inclusive, I had the opportunity to meet incredible people from many backgrounds. With such diversity, I not only learned about Britain but about France, Korea, Portugal, Canada and many other places. By spending time together in the classroom, on trips, and even just hanging out watching a movie, we developed a strong sense of community. I hope I'm not being trite when I say that the friendships I made at Oxford will last a lifetime.
Published: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2005
In Europe, camp styles range all the way from the bracingly Spartan to the downright deluxe. Toward the high end of the scale is Les Elfes (www.leselfes.com), which has camps in Verbier and Zermatt, Switzerland, for children aged eight to 18.
Campers stay in hotel-style accommodations, four to a room with their own bathroom and maid service. Last year, Les Elfes welcomed children from 45 countries, including many from South America.
Of the two founders, Philippe and Nicole Stettler, Philippe jets around the world meeting the kids and their parents face to face. On a recent trip to India, he gave a tea party for interested parties.
"The clients give us so much trust, it's the least we can do," says the camp's spokeswoman, Vanessa Ruber.
There are five camp counselors to every child. "Most of the little ones, age eight to 11, don't have a second language," says Ruber, "so we recruit at least one staff member who speaks their language." All under-16's study a language in the morning. Afternoon activities can include golf, tennis and climbing.
Slightly more sporty are Switzerland's Village Camps (www.villagecamps.com), which offer 20 programs in Switzerland, Britain, Austria, France and Canada for children from seven to 18.
The Leysin camp, 1,200 meters (3,960 feet) above Lake Geneva, offers dozens of sports, as well as cooking, arts and crafts. Facilities include a theater, a computer lab and an indoor sports center with a swimming pool. Evening activities include games, movies and team-building challenges.
In France, the theatrically inclined may gravitate to the Loire Valley Theater Festival in Pontlevoy (www.loiretheatre.com), near Blois. This year, the Conservatory Program offers training for actors, dancers, musicians and theater designers in French and English for students aged 14 to 20. The two-week Camp Program is for the less experienced, aged nine to 14. This year's production is a bilingual version of "Ondine" by Jean Giraudoux, with "Fables de La Fontaine" for the younger ones.
In Britain, Experience UK, or XUK (www.xkeys.co.uk) operates day camps on the edge of London and residential camps in rural East Anglia. The company is run by Lawrence Bernstein, 33, and his brother Richard, 28.
"In the past few years, camps have professionalized," says Richard Bernstein. "For instance, we're registered with Ofsted [Office for Standards in Education]. Any camp that isn't, you need to be wondering why."
At the residential camp in Quidenham, Norfolk, kids can do "all the usual sports," he notes, as well as clay-pigeon shooting and quad-bike riding. The residential camp serves campers aged six to 17, with four groups within that. It is held at New Eccles Hall, a boarding school.
The day camps in London (Hampstead Garden Suburb and Cross Keys) focus on drama and sports, with a Mini Minors camps for ages three to 12.
For those from abroad, Oxford Royale Academy (www.oxford-royale.co.uk) offers more than the usual course in English as a foreign language for visitors. It uses the facilities of Oxford University's prestigious Exeter College to give them a grounding in British history and culture.
English-speakers can spend the mornings in lectures on a range of subjects, from prehistory through to the modern day. These are brought to life with day trips by minibus to nearby places such as Stonehenge, Bath and Bleinheim Palace.
Most of Oxford Royale Academy's participants are Americans, and are pre-university age, 16 to 20, although the program is open to anyone over 16.
Non-English speakers can substitute English-language classes for the morning session. In the afternoon and evening, they can join the trips and other activities, such as going to a London musical or a Shakespeare play.
Deep in Somerset county in western England is Mill on the Brue Outdoor Pursuits Center (www.millonthebrue.co.uk). It operates both day and residential camps.
Mill on the Brue is a farm camp, which practices recycling, grows all its own organic vegetables and rears much of its own meat. It offers children aged eight to 14 more than 40 activities in a verdant, riverside setting. According to its owner, Tricia Rawlingson Plant, sometimes the simplest things make the biggest impression on children, such as fetching their own eggs from the henhouse.
"I've been doing this since 1982," says Rawlingson Plant, "and one thing I've learned is that children love being children - lighting a fire, building a shelter."