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History and Politics

Machiavelli wrote "there is nothing..more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order", but I hope by studying a History and Politics degree it will enable me to explore a 'new order' of thinking.

Reading 'The Prince', I discovered how pragmatism operated in the 16th century, and how it has parallels with modern politics. Studying Government & Politics, I have explored how UK democracy is still flawed even after centuries of struggle for an effective parliamentary system. I witnessed this first-hand when I attended the Health Select Committee, revealed as more of a public showcase than genuine scrutiny.

Visiting Istanbul, I developed an interest in 20th century nationalism and fascism, and how regimes gained and exploited popular support. Ataturk did it in the wake of Ottoman collapse and Franco after political instability in 1930's Spain. I am exploring this further in my EPQ. The fallout from such upheavals is clearest in Berlin. Eating Currywurst in Alexanderplatz in East Berlin on a recent history trip, I appreciated the juxtaposition between the old and new orders. Soviet architecture was in stark contrast to emerging Western values. Despite just eating sausage, I could identify the differences between communism and capitalism, and how the old lifestyle of the East is giving way to globalisation.

The challenge of rapid political change was also clear when I had the opportunity to go with 'Winter King' author Thomas Penn to the site of the Battle of Bosworth. He described Henry VII as a 'fugitive and refugee'; an interesting portrayal of a man who pioneered Machiavellian techniques to enforce his will. These visits have extended my understanding of my school history topics. At Chalke Valley History Festival, a memorable moment was at a Q&A with Tom Holland on the Celts. He stated that in the 8th century, the word for 'cow' was very similar amongst Gaelic and Anatolian tribes. What captivated me was the fact that even in post-Roman Europe there was persistent cultural homogeneity underlying the political upheaval.

To develop research skills, I have been an intern in professional environments. At Lobbyist firm Curtin & Co, I identified key players to contact in planning and development, from local stakeholders to Government Ministers. With Lion TV, I worked on the BBC 2 Chinese New Year series, researching how the festival is celebrated across China. I have also sought practical experience of grassroots politics. In Cape Town, I did self-funded voluntary work (earned from work as a waiter) in townships, developing a range of resources and contacts to help impoverished families find education and jobs. I also helped educate youth offenders on reshaping their lives after release. I received a High Distinction from the organisation I was working for.
Co-hosting a weekly radio show delivering engaging political analysis for teenagers, I have covered key events, including a General Election debate comprising all Henley constituency candidates. I have also interviewed public figures, notably controversial Punk band 'Fat White Family' on their provocative use of fascist references. This, alongside winning my school's public speaking competition, has helped me gain analysis and presentation skills. I work as a monitor for the charity Active Training & Education, focusing on working with children, often from disadvantaged backgrounds, in a creative environment. Supervising a group in a variety of team building activities 24/7, I have to tackle challenging issues including language barriers. This is my residential strand on Gold DofE. I have recently been elected as Deputy Head Boy by students and teachers in my school, a role I am very excited to fulfil. I make speeches to the wider community and chair the Sixth Form council. Machiavelli might deem my legitimate mandate unnecessary, but he would approve of my aim to learn the lessons of history and apply them to the modern world.

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Comprehensive school student, applied for Cambridge

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