It was a struggle to get up early and make it to the train station on time that morning. The fatigue was visible on everyone’s faces, but after a few coffees, warm hugs and laughter, the mood completely changed. We had a day filled with new adventures and learning opportunities ahead of us.

Scholars listening attentively to the proposals.

The first half of the day involved a session with the MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy; a leadership programme for professionals. We started out with a session on creativity and thinking outside the box, facilitated by Grace Owen, a Senior Programme Director at MAVA. After this, we had the opportunity to listen to and give feedback on a few proposals from some of the MAVA leaders, aimed at solving some of the world’s most pressing conservation problems. The optimism, passion, and commitment shown by the MAVA leaders was quite inspiring and encouraging. A key takeaway for me, was to learn to give positive feedback to others, which provides support for, rather than tears down, an idea. 

The interactions with the MAVA leaders were positive and chatter about our overall experience there continued to the Houses of Parliament – our next destination. We each received audio guides and took the time to complete the tour and learn about the history of United Kingdom and its parliament. The tour put everyone in a reflective mood, but also inspired us to showcase our creative side as we recreated some of the artistic pieces at the Houses of Parliament. 

Scholars recreating one of the paintings at the Houses of Parliament.

Our next destination was Crypt, a cosy, underground cafe. There we helped ourselves to an assortment of cakes and hot beverages. 

Scholars at Somerset House.

All cheerful and lively, we made our way to Somerset House. By this time, the sun had completely set and the Christmas decorations illuminated the streets of London. It was a beautiful sight, as was Somerset House. The ice-skating rink was beautifully lit and inviting.  However, some of us, myself included, had no past skating experience, and the thought of getting on the ice was daunting. As Priyadarshini Tripathy (2019, India, Msc Global Health Science and Epidemiology, Weidenfeld-Hoffmann/Chevening) and I clung onto the side rails trying our best not to slip and fall, Antonio Beun (2019, Argentina, Master of Public Policy, Louis Dreyfus and Weidenfeld-Hoffmann) and David Hernandez Benitez (2019, Colombia, Master of Public Policy, Oxford-Weidenfeld/Chevening) breezed passed us, taking selfies as they skated. I was tempted to give up, but Zuzana Hlavkova‘s (2019, Slovakia, Master of Public Policy, Oxford-Weidenfeld and Hoffmann-Barnett) dedication to helping me get it right kept me going. I was happily falling and getting back up again. 

As the trip came to an end, we made our way back to the train station. The return journey an enjoyable one; from discussions of start-up ideas, to singing and laughter. 

About the Scholar

Kapil Yadav

Environmental Change and Management (MSc), 2019
Linacre College, Oxford
Louis Dreyfus-Weidenfeld and Hoffmann Scholar