When I think of collections, I used to think of the trinkets of stickers, stamps and marbles that I would collect as a child. Fond memories are conjured up of organising my stickers in categories in the sticker book, caring for my marbles in a big plastic case and stamp club meetings with my sister. At Oxford, “Collections” mean something very different: a meeting at the end of term, at which the student’s progress is discussed. As Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust scholars, we meet with WHT Director Alexandra Henderson and a WHT Academic Adviser, Elizabeth Roberts or Nik Kirby.
A WHT collection is a chance for me to collect my thoughts about what I have done (or should have done) and what steps I need to take in order to reach my goals, both within Oxford and beyond. It is an opportunity to reflect – which, I am guilty of not doing often enough – and regather my thoughts. To check-in with my academic and psychological well-being.
At the time of writing this piece, I have attended one collection which felt more like a tender conversation with a caring mentor than a formal procedure. My collection experience was open, honest and full of care. I personally have found the Oxford experience taxing in a lot of ways and I have been putting on a brave face, pushing forward to try do what I need to. The collection gave me time to really consider my situation. The support from WHT that I have always appreciated so much was reaffirmed. From the beginning, WHT became a close-knit family, each of us caring and looking out for the well-being of others. When I say “each of us” I am referring not only to the cohort of students but to all the advisors as well as the other members of the WHT team. My collection experience was one where my thoughts were listened to, concerns addressed and hopes re-ignited.
I believe that collections are at the heart of WHT’s Programme. They offer real, meaningful, all-round support to the scholars through pragmatic reasoning, practical actions and kindness. I left the collection with the conviction that I can overcome, summit and make my WHT family proud.