Writing Contest Winner – Away from Home

This summer we hosted a writing contest on the theme “Away from Home.”  There were many submissions, from reflections on what home really means, to discussion of the quirks of Britain compared to their own homes.

After reading all the submissions, the committee chose the following poem as the winner of the 2016 competition.  We hope you enjoy this submission from Maggie S.

Away from Home

I’m home

I don’t want to leave

my friends and family

but I’m excited to see

a foreign place

my home will feel like

a thousand miles away

I’m sad to go

away from my mom and dad.

no longer

I’m confident and


I can do it but

I don’t know if

where I’m going will ever completely feel like home

and don’t try to tell me

time flies



dragging on and on

the goodbyes are

a month away.

I can’t believe it has been

the best month of my life.


Now read from bottom to top

Going Home

Today was an emotional day as all the students made their way back to their friends and families. As both escorted flights touched down in their respective destinations, students have been sharing Snapchats and Instagram posts to remind themselves of their fantastic summer abroad.

Meanwhile, the journey continues for our intrepid Parisian explorers, who took a river cruise on the Seine and had a group dinner together. Stay tuned for more updates from Paris!

Final Dinner – Jazz by Candlelight

Last night, the students were treated to a formal dinner in the LMH dining hall. Traditionally, Oxford students wear formal dress and gowns to these meals, and our students looked just as sharp in their shirts and ties and dresses! Every student got a group photo for their friends to sign and write notes on while a jazz band played some of their greatest standards, led by John Rolfe (our Oxford Art & Architecture teacher). We all enjoyed a three-course meal by candlelight and took plenty of pictures together before heading to view the students’ final projects in photography, art, and more.

After that, it was time to celebrate our summer together by viewing some of the talent that is so abundant in this group! Preston played the piano, Artur orated, Madison made us move to the sound of her voice, and everyone took part in some choice group karaoke. We also recognized the students’ academic achievements, for students attending all three seminars and students especially chosen by their teachers. There were many tears at the end of the night, but we will remember it for a long time to come!

Last Week Roundup

As the final day approaches and we start to feel sentimental, we thought we’d take a look at some of the activities of the last week.

After an exciting programme of classes and activities, students chilled out on Friday night. Pyjamas, face-masks, nail painting and a movie were the order of the evening. By the end of the night we were all fresh-faced and ready for the final week.

Monday saw the highly-anticipated Staff-Student Soccer Championship. It was a close call, but not as close as the staff would’ve liked! Despite the sweltering heat, the student team put in a great performance and emerged victorious.

The sun continued to shine on Wednesday for the annual rocket launch. Summerfuel’s best and brightest assembled to build and launch their own rockets. Despite some challenging engineering, every one went off without a hitch.

Meanwhile, high inside the towers of Toynbee, students raced against the clock to solve the puzzles of the Escape Room. Of ten teams who tried it, four beat the 45 minute time limit, with the fastest team taking just over 15 minutes to reach the goal!

Now, on to the excitement of the final dinner and a showcase of the best talent Summerfuel has on offer. Stay tuned!

Final Summerfuel Dance

We’ve had so much going on in the last few days, and it’s all culminated with the final Summerfuel dance! The RAs set up a summer festival in our very own gardens, and the students danced to a playlist of songs they chose throughout the program. Many selfies were taken, many snaps were chatted, and everyone had a great time. We look forward to the bittersweet final dinner tomorrow!

Shakespeare in the Park

The city of Oxford is filled with vibrant opportunities to ponder the works of Shakespeare for his 400th anniversary.  A group of students decided to enjoy today’s particularly sunny weather and celebrate Shakespeare’s legacy by watching Hamlet in the park!  The play was performed right next door to Lady Margaret Hall in the 74 acres of the University Parks.  The play was a modern interpretation by Creation Theatre.  The overall aesthetic was rooted in Steampunk culture, a type of science fantasy inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.  The feel was similar to a punk circus, complete with a grave digger clown.

Although the look of the play was clearly contemporary, the actors stayed true to the old English script.  Some of the students were familiar with Hamlet, others were not, but all were able to engage with this approachable interpretation.  A particular student favorite was the use of current music: the final scene closed with Muse.

Meeting With a Lord

Today was one of the most beautiful days we’ve had all summer, and it couldn’t have come at a better time than our trip to Broughton Castle — filming site of Shakespeare in Love and Jane Eyre. What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than walking through a moated medieval manor and its splendid gardens, feeling the breeze from the roof, and sipping tea in the sun? The trip started off with a talk from Martin Fiennes, cousin to Ralph and Joseph Fiennes, and the next Lord Say-and-Sele, in which students learned about the history of Broughton and the Fiennes family. Then, in the middle of a tour of the grounds, we were surprised by a visit from the current Lord Say-and-Sele, who is still happy to greet visitors at 96 years old! It was a relaxing day to prepare us for our final week in Oxford.

Another Student Perspective


by Joey Choi

Everything New…

Throughout the last two weeks at this Summerfuel camp, everyone turned from strangers into friends and family. The first few days of the experience were all about asking people the two continuous nonstop questions: “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?” Now, we started secret-sharing, memories-sharing. Time passed so quickly that two weeks seems like it was just yesterday. Everyone on this camp loves everything except for maybe the homework! Classes are interesting as all teachers are chill, especially the teacher in my major: Business. I bet the summary of academics here from everyone will be that it is better than we ever thought of; it does fuel our summer with useful information for life.

Foods and Trips

At Summerfuel Oxford, I think at least half the group knows that I am so in love with ice cream and dislike bagels. I have been talking about ice cream every day, but maybe no one knows the true reason behind it. There will not be an exact answer to why I crave for it at all moment even in my sleep but I could only tell everyone that ice cream is what connect me to the whole world and to everyone appear into my life. Ice cream and G&D’s Cafe will always be the biggest memories of my trip in Oxford, UK.

Going on trips on Saturday and Sunday are always fun. In the beginning, I always complained about why we can’t have one relaxing weekend without any activities. But things have changed, and I am so glad Summerfuel bought me to London and Bath. Bath has found my tears. In my whole life, I have never thought of visiting my auntie who lives in the UK. I have missed her a lot as it is always difficult to meet with her. There is nothing more I can say but thanks to the program who brought me out of the Oxford area to go through the gate and arrive in London, a big city I have never thought of visiting and Bath, a place where my relatives started to think of me no longer as a little kid but now as a big girl who knows how to take care of others.

“Capturing the Moment”

Checking the storage of my phone, I don’t know why but half of my storage is full already. I have been in the UK for about 10 days and the moments have been perfect and lovely. Every moment with the friends I met 10 days ago has helped build my memories here. I remember running in the town in the early morning on a Sunday, going to high tea with all my girls, climbing up to St. Mary’s Church and yelling “Summerfuel” toward the sky, the earth, and all of Oxford—all this happening on one day. I then also remember one day when I went to Blenheim Palace, danced in the room, went to Tesco with my friends and wandered around town randomly. These memories shall remain in my heart, my photos, and my memories forever.