Politics & Spanish Personal Statement
Politics is a fascinating contradiction of pattern and exception; we seek themes whilst recognising the exceptional nature of events and circumstances. This can be well exemplified by observing the patterns of Spanish politics; Tremlett’s Ghost of Spain illustrates the tenacious nature of fascist ideas and sympathies, continuing to flourish, albeit marginally, in twenty first century Spain.
It is this enigmatic quality of decay and renewal within Politics that has so captured my interest. A study of this period and its disparate political manifestations, combined with the challenge of disentangling a ‘mere Franco personality cult’ from a ‘dress rehearsal for the Second World War’, provides challenges that frustrate as much as excite me.
Both Politics and History A Level have provided an opportunity to explore critically the theory and practice of ideology. My understanding of the politico-cultural battleground of the ideas of 1930s China, wrestling between nationalism and communism, has been further illuminated by the Politics Ideologies modules.
This has allowed for a more nuanced and subtle appreciation of the depth, diversity and tensions existing within individual ideologies. Equally, critically evaluating the development of socialism within the UK has better informed my appreciation of current debates within the British political landscape.
Of late I have been developing new areas of academic interest in the field of globalisation, specifically through a MOOC exploration of theories of diplomacy.
My A-level Spanish course has undoubtedly increased my appreciation of Spanish culture and society, as well as contemporary political developments, not least the phenomenon of Podemos. This movement has demonstrated an anti-austerity appetite in contrast to trending nationalistic tendencies in the UK and Austria.
Spanish grammar has also required the development of a technical attention to detail, valuable for effective communication as well as the critical analysis of texts. Emerson’s dictum of ‘an ounce of actions is worth a ton of theory’ has informed my own pursuits, joining the Labour Party in part in response to reading Chavs and The Establishment by Owen Jones.
I have tried to expose myself to politics in practice, not least by campaigning in my constituency during the 2015 election, along with participating in my school mock General Election, interning with MEP Jude Kirton-Darling, and delivering campaign speeches in the Remain campaign in a mock EU Referendum.
Attending a session at the House of Lords during their debate on the review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, illustrated the impact of practical politics on everyday lives in terms of issues of affordable legal advice for citizens. A week spent in the Scrutiny Department of Durham County Council gave me invaluable insight into the critical role played by much overlooked local politics.
Whilst also improving communication and organisation skills, I spoke to councillors from various political parties and engaged in discussions at the committee meetings.
I have previously led a feminist group, delivering talks and fundraising for a local women’s shelter. This theory-practice interplay was brought home by a school Politics Society guest; Susan Mansaray, formerly a Sierra Leonese journalist, became and continues to be a global campaigner against FGM.
I recently delivered a paper on Clinton and Feminism at a student conference on the US Presidential election, combining my political interests with an appetite for public speaking. As a member of the Debating Society I had previously led a team through the English Speaking Union competition, reaching the semi-finals. This faculty was further enhanced by a Spanish summer camp, undoubtedly building linguistic competence and confidence.
I now feel that I am well prepared and highly enthused about the reality of pursuing my intellectual, political and cultural interests at degree level.
This is my personal statement for Politics and Spanish at Bristol and Sheffield and Politics at Edinburgh, Leeds and Manchester. I have received one offer from Manchester so far.