The Sad Shadow, witness of decrepitude

She does not walk, her toes kiss the street. Her hands are waltzing in her hair, as if her scalp was an immense ballroom. Not to talk about that smile! I am concerned whether those are lips or just constellations trying to defy the half-moon.  Her brown eyes were in constant skirmish, I almost could hear them quarreling:”to what should we pay attention firstly?”

 Gone are the days when I resided in her heart. When she was just a five-year-old gregarious and awfully disreputable child, she would come to me every single time, after misbehaving by design, as to annoy her intrepid parents. We would discuss about it, at our leisure, letting time to transform this image of us together into immortality. But, the bubble bursts sometimes.

After graduating High School, she moved to Paris to write for some renowned magazine. If there is one thing, you, reader, must know about me is that I am stouthearted. I followed her, even when she found treacherous friends and then, boyfriends. I took part in a futile chase, having a lump in my throat as I continued this trip, in hopes of conquering her heart. I told myself not to surrender while I was trapped into her eyes. I felt as if I were an ex-convict, still fighting to the bitter end.

Finally, I capitulated to her silent demands. It was the day I met her ingenious lover. He was chivalrous, in a dashing way, never morose or sullen, forever hers. I have seen every hug, every kiss and I aged through all these hardships. I was with this girl wherever she was, whenever she needed – when she was running to catch Bus 28, protecting her head from the powerful sunlight and when she was holding hands with this gallant guy at night, on 4th Street, when only dimming lights were accompanying them.

I could not help being present at her wedding, underhand, of course. I saw their first baby, a sturdy girl named Stephanie growing and also, present at the christening of Anthony, their third child. Awful, isn’t it? I have been there always and she never noticed. The last time I have seen her was the saddest, actually. She was crying – that picture I cannot afford to see. My dear Kate was now frail and sick, reaching the age of seventy-four.

”I have no one” she whispered, as her tears were filling in my broken heart. “The only trace I have ever left on places, memories or people is my shadow – my only stunt friend.”

 

Pictures taken from the movies: “Becoming Jane”, starring Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy, “Anna Karenina” with Keira Knightley and Aaron Taylor-Johnson and “Shakespeare in Love”, involving Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes.

Which description fits you best? The volunteer or the “normal”?

I have never heard of any campaign trying to prod authorities into outlawing bad traits of character. Something hinders the march of truth and conveys the idea of being apathetic. “Stop!”, whispers a police officer of my mind. If only we could arraign for cruelty of thinking…

Still, nothing happens. We, the volunteers, are not enough. We need to disclose the only secret of being involved in our community: caring. Apprehend all hate speeches! Stem the flow of bad criticism! Do these not because the majority tells you, but because you care! Look in the mirror for one second. What do you think of this image of yours – “pride or prejudice”? Your eyes do not ignite sparks of joy and your smile is inhibited.

Now, look at us, the community standing right in front of you. You can see we redeem all our worries from ourselves, because we know how to restrain our anger (those conflict management trainings do their work!). We augment our happiness and give it to everyone who needs it, not in a dashing way, but with a sincere and ingenuous look. We can climb easily that descent of the mountains, because we know we are doing it for a charitable organisation, donations being given hereafter to children with disabilities.

Not relishing, so far, the advantages when picturing the portrait of a volunteer? If so, let me introduce another tool to help you comprehend your big mistake – The Question. What is obstructing your way in helping people? Do not drift from thought to thought, searching for an answer, I can see you! And do not induce me with the classic “I do not have time” – we both know you waste billion seconds when staring at the phone. Do not trick me into believing that it gives you no advantage at all. You forget a mere detail (apart from the fact that I will fight against any objections of yours) – even career advisers show that the impact your job has on society is one of the factors that bring happiness. That`s why researchers encourage students to follow a path that proves to be more than labor work and money machine.

If you still persist in this snag, not wanting to be part of our great “snug” team, I have another one for you! Look at the creative arts and what they promote. Watch “To Kill a Mockingbird” or simply read the riveting best-selling novel. Be aware of Obama`s oratory skills and listen to his speeches. Also, Christina Aguilera`s “Can`t Hold Us Down” should be describing the image of affliction pretty good enough. Not to tell about all those iconic figures – paintings, sketches, posters.

You should not avert the voice of activism anymore. Prove your mettles in the community by helping others; shout for the downtrodden who cannot hold their tears now! Feel the flavour of the sturdy ones and enjoy the scent of vitality. There will always be voices on the contrary, but do not let volunteering ill-fated! Stand by us and you will not regret it, I avow!

 

Day 4: Cambridge and Harry Potter

Hello, readers from all the places. If you are lucky enough one day to visit Cambridge, I can share some tips with you, based on my experience. So it goes….

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We were happy to find out that after one hour spent in the train, many colleges had open days. We chose to see Downing College and Corpus Christi College. On the right is an ingenious map of the tiny city.

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I`ll start with Downey. A gregarious guide showed us everything, including the accommodation which is given  according to a ballot system. Everything is pretty and the atmosphere, I guarantee you, is perfect for absorbing tomes of academic information.

As far as Corpus Christi is concerned, it is the sixth oldest college of Oxford. Its court is the oldest continually inhabited courtyard in the country.

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The acclaimed playwright Christopher Marlowe was a student at Corpus and more recently, Hugh Bonneville, an actor which took part in Downton Abbey. Taylor Library couldn`t be more cozy and it is said that students can be spotted working there in their pyjamas. Cool, right?

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After the open days at these two colleges, we went punting which was so fun!

But the fourth day in England cannot be finished without Harry Potter`s Platform 9¾… or without the Harry Potter Official Shop, both at King`s Cross. Lovely day!

 

See ya tomorrow!

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Day 3: Adam Smith of Karl Marx?

Why do people say that history is writing in every single moment? You`re about to find out why!

Welcome to my third day in London. Courses occupied a great amount of time, studying capitalism, socialism and also, the history of the present times. Have you ever heard about Antonio Rimsci? He was one of the first people to discuss and implement the characteristics of capitalism, without giving this concept a name. Do you know what is mercantilism? It is an economic theory and practice to increase one nation`s wealth?

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Interested? Here we go, then!

This is the pyramid of capitalist system, an American cartoon caricature. Can you name another satire of the concept implemented by Adam Smith? You`re right – Karl Marx with Das Kapital. Now, we`ll move to different capitalist systems. For instance, the idea of Max Weber, a renowned sociologist who thought that every economic interaction is a social interaction. Or the perspective of Keynes, important economist.

Wait, there`s more!

We have also learned the difference between a commercial bank and an investment one. And above all, about the Great Depression from 1929 caused by successive withdrawals. After that, we dug into institutional economies (which considers both the political and the social part) and neoclassical economies (which reject the labor theory of value).

But, the peak of the sessions was the question our teacher addressed to us: if I gave you 100.000 pounds, what would you do with them? This basically can determine whether you are a left or a right wing – are you more oriented on you or the society? Now, let`s go back to my first question about history. We discussed in the class about Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is a strategy proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping that focuses on a cooperation between Eurasian countries. It is under construction and the common wish is to be bigger than European Union. This was one of the most talked matter in 2016, in case you didn`t know.

The teacher also recommended us a movie – The man who knew Infinity which stars Lion leading actor, Dev Patel.

The afternoon activity was boating in Hyde Park. It was so fun! The park also offers various recreational activities including open water swimming, cycling, tennis and horse riding. Hyde Park covers 350 acres and is home to a number of famous landmarks including the Serpentine Lake, Speakers’ Corner and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain.

And until tomorrow, here are some pictures:

 

 

Day 2: Population ethics and Primrose Hill

Hello everyone! What are you doing now? Because I`m about to present what LITE Regal Education can do for you in Business Leadership. So, here it goes:

Day 2

After breakfast, the first course concentrated on the book review of `What Money Can`t Buy` by Michael Sandal. We had to read the introduction, but I extended my research a little bit through some talks this American professor of Politics at Harvard gave and even other reviews. Have a look at what I wrote:

Michael Sandals`s book, `What money can`t buy` is an invitation to reflection. It`s not that type of mathematical book, with bullet points or any tendency to get bored, although the book is the perfect balance between example, problem and solution that gives this analytic perspective. The Guardian reviewed it and I would like to highlight an opinion which I share and that is, quote: It’s a work of political philosophy more than it is a polemic: he wants to make it unambiguously clear that markets have a moral impact on the goods that are traded in them.

The objective of this books is clearly stated in the introduction in the form of question: `what values should govern the various domains of social and civic life?`. Starting from this quotation, I began to understand that this work does not criticize society; it is, asking, in fact, for a debate. The writer is open to dialogue and that makes the readers more aware of the problem. I quote: We need a public debate about what it means to keep markets in their place. Later on, he explains further – This is a debate we didn’t have during the era of market triumphalism. As a result, without quite realizing it, without ever deciding to do so, we drifted from having a market economy to being a market society.

Through the introduction, a wealth of information is presented, most of it centering on the fall of market triumphalism. The end of the book is very powerful and I quote: Democracy does not require perfect equality, but it does require that citizens share in a common life. In a talk given by Michael Sandel for Oxford Union, he said that `we have to overcome the bad habit of outsourcing our moral judgments and to build moral resonance into democratic public life`. So, at the end of the day, this is more a philosophical debate than a political one.

As for me, money seems to me like a psychological experiment we were given as a test.

Thank you for your attention!

This is it. If you have any feedback, I am prepared to take it! As Sandel recommends, why not having here an open debate about this? I`m all ears!

The next session focused more on population ethics. We discussed about the average principle and the total principle. But, as far as I am concerned, The Mere Addition Paradox totally caught my attention.

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I`ll put here the Wikipedia explanation, they tend to be more precise. So: Each bar, within a population, represents a distinct group of people, whose size is represented by the bar’s width and whose happiness is represented by the bar’s height. Unlike A and B, A+ and B− are thus complex populations, each comprising two distinct groups of people. How do these four populations compare in value? We have to start making comparisons between these different pairs of population.

 

 

I`ll let you figure out what is the paradox!

We also had a debate about Sartre and existentialism – can existence be better or worse than non-existence? I would like to hear (see) what you think in the comment section!

After the sessions, we went straight to The Regent`s Park and Primrose Hill. And as you can see below, we also met with some giraffes from the zoo. Pretty cool, right?

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And here are more details if you plan to see this: The Regent’s Park, designed by John Nash, covers 395 acres and includes Queen Mary’s Gardens which features more than 12,000 roses of 400 varieties, as well as the gloriously restored William Andrews Nesfield’s Avenue Gardens.

After such a perfect day, what can I say other than `See ya tomorrow?`

 

Day 1: Karl Marx, Aristotle and Sherlock Holmes

Look, I have to tell you the truth –  I simply cannot believe this is happening. Yesterday I was in my hometown in Romania and now… now everything is too nice to be real. But, fortunately, it is.

This is the story of how LITE Regal Education brought me to London. Let me give you the gist of the way I got here, first and foremost. I have been searching for a lot of summer schools who offered scholarships and those from U.K. sounded so great I had to apply for one or two.

It was so exciting when I found out I was going to be interviewed for LITE and I prepared thoroughly for my first experience of this kind. I was told to prepare three things that represent me and to send an academic recommendation.

So, when I got the mail about me being awarded a scholarship, I was on cloud nine! Can you imagine – a 17 year-old girl alone for two weeks in London studying Business Leadership with a teacher from UCL and having amazing trips and outdoor activities? *sorry for this long sentence, but this is my way of expressing how dreamy is this for me*.

Although I think my enthusiasm speaks for itself, here you have the perfect first day at LITE Regal Education. Fasten your seat belts!

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The first session was a melting pot as we learned that the Business Leadership course is to follow the syllabus of PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics), serving as an introduction to university`s academic life.

After talking about political philosophers (from Plato to Voltaire), we dug deeper into a debate about feminism and the the power of a president. We embarked also on a interdisciplinary journey when we discussed the impressive `Dooby dooby doo` of Frank Sinatra and how this is related to Jean-Paul Sartre and Socrates.

The next hours we focused more on International Relations, as the workshop was centered on International Relations and the way this could influence our present and future, as individuals. Our tutor has made this more accessible by allowing us to express however we wanted. I chose to write a simple story of how I perceive IR and here it is:

Once upon a time there was a community of all kinds. They helped each other or, as the millennials would put it down, there was an incredible team work. Unfortunately, good things vanished into thin air as fights began. They tried to create a system to work it out again. This system is, in fact, International Relations and no, I do not see it as a story, but as a camera which captures emotions and stirs up feelings. 

After finishing the lessons, we had some free time so I chose to see Baker Street as I am a big fan of Sherlock BBC. After a long day of discussing markets and morals, here I am, writing this for you as to give you an insight from an awe-inspiring high school that hopefully will shape my thoughts and actions from now on.

See you tomorrow!