The English-Speaking Union

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Report from Luard Morse Scholar Kyana Washington


My last term at The University of Oxford was so indescribably amazing that it has been hard to properly reflect on the experience. I guess reflection is hardest when you don't want something to be over. Being in Oxford was an experience that I will never forget and one that has changed me forever. I learned so much from the inspiring students and scholars who made this term both challenging and delightful.

One of the projects I completed during my last term was an interdisciplinary research project under the guidance of Professor Diane Purkiss. I focused on the need for a feminist and post-colonial theoretical perspective when analyzing African-American folklore, modern fairytales, and children's literature in order to understand the effect the fairytale, fantasy, and fiction genres have on black women and young black girls. I chose to analyze the complex relationship black women have to fairytales in light of cultural imperialism, sexism, slavery, racism, and psychological oppression. In many ways this project made me feel close to many of my Spelman sisters who continue to do the important work that focuses on the experience of black women. I plan to continue to write work that problematizes oppression through feminist theory and black feminist philosophy.

In the midst of my work I was able to travel with the friends I made at Mansfield College. We took a group trip to Stonehenge and Salisbury Castle which was something I couldn't leave the UK without seeing.

During the last month I took my first solo trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland. The seafood was absolutely amazing and the Irish fish and chips is hands down the best! I was able to meet some friends from the U.S, South Africa, and Germany during my stay at a hostel in Dublin. We explored the night-life together and went to a traditional Celtic music show. I have always loved Celtic music and I enjoyed watching the dancers and listening to the crowd sing Irish folk songs. While I was in Dublin I was able to see the St. Patrick Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin Castle, Trinity College, the Book of Kells, and so much more.

These are photos of me at Dublin Castle (left), Christ Church Cathedral (right), and The Long Room Library at Trinity College (bottom. 


I also took day trips to Kilkenny, Glendalough, and the Wicklow Mountains before heading up to Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland I explored Belfast before taking a tour of the sites where they filmed the Game of Thrones. I got to experience the Giant's Causeway, a natural phenomena of hexagonal stones that resulted from an ancient volcanic eruption.


Lastly, I conquered my fear and crossed the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in the freezing rain!

Coming home from The University of Oxford has been the most bittersweet experience I've ever had. There is so much about Oxford that I miss that it's hard to reflect on what I miss the most. During the second term I was able to become close with my cohort of visiting students and the members of Mansfield College. We shared so many great experiences and I will miss them very much.

I am so blessed to have had this opportunity to study at the most renowned institution in the world and to travel to all of the countries I've been to! During the six months I was overseas I've learned so much about myself and my position in the world. I don't know when I will be able to return to Oxford, but when I do I know that it will feel like home!


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