I am priviliged to have been working for OISE summer schools for 18 years, firstly as a teacher, then as an academic leader, and finally as a course leader.
During that time I have seen how these courses can positively influence young people at an important moment in their lives. As we get older, we often forget how pivotal these years are.
I have seen at first hand how our courses help teenagers, not just with their English, but also with their social skills, improving their self-confidence through inter-action in the classroom and also in presentations. Every student takes part in these Friday activities, presenting before the whole school, students and teachers. The themes change from week to week, and include drama, media (student newspapers or video news bulletins) and Dragons´ Den, where students come up with new, innovative business ideas and strategies. Some of their ideas are surprisingly ingenious.
And, of course, we try to make the classes multi-national wherever possible, so that the students learn first-hand about other cultures.
A few years ago the students at OISE Badminton made a video about their time at the school. It was totally unscripted. The students spoke about their experience here and their feelings. And the positivity was exceptional.
Now, a word about where our students come from. I like that it is usually a very international mix. In the past it has included students from France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Russia, Switzerland, Argentina, Cambodia, Korea, Japan and Austria.
Badminton School is a fabulous site. Good, well-equipped classrooms, attractive grounds and good leisure facilities for tennis, basketball, football, badminton, table tennis and swimming. It also has an excellent presentation hall with full video and audio facilities, a concert piano, stage and a pull-out stage, and backstage props and costumes which mean that students can really ´´live their roles´´ during presentations.
Now, a word about Bristol. We are fortunate to be on the edge of one of the great cities of Britain. So, in our leisure programme, we try to incorporate visits to the internationally famous Harbour Festival,the Hot-air balloon festival, Bristol Zoo, and Clifton Gorge, site of a spectacular suspension bridge. Students also have free time to visit the city centre after lessons at least once a week.
To sum up, a bit about my personal feelings. Teenagers are teenagers, and we all know what that means. So, every year brings its challenges. Young people are very inventive when it comes to high jinx after lessons. However, despite these occasional hiccups, my overwhelming impression is that the vast majority leave enriched by their experience here. And that also enriches me. That is why I keep coming back.
Ross Horne, Badminton Course Leader