As time comes to “represent some aspects of London culture” on campus, the Off-Campus Programs Office hosted the annual London Week last Monday, Jan. 29 to Friday, Feb. 2. The week featured several promotional events, including a “Great British Baking Show”-themed cookie-decorating afternoon on Monday, a lecture given by Gordon R. Clapp Chair of American Studies and Associate Professor of Government William Hixon on Wednesday, an informational meeting about the London Centre on Thursday and weekend trip to Björklunden for all London Centre alumni and students interested in applying.
London Week started with Monday’s “The Great British Bake Off” cookie-decorating event, a spin-off of the well-loved BBC One show featuring passionate amateur bakers that compete in a series of challenges to be crowned UK’s Best Amateur Baker, at International House, featuring a tiered stand of sugar cookies to frost with the television series playing in the background.
On Wednesday, Hixon spoke in Main Hall 201 about the class he taught as the London Centre Visiting Faculty this past Fall Term, “Food Politics and Culture.” The course explored food awareness, management and experimentation in London. The students read “Hungry City” by London-based architect and food urbanist Carolyn Steel. In her book, Steel explains that for much of history, Londoners were very conscious of their food. Living in such a large city, the logistics of feeding everyone became a big concern. Before the days of trucks, trains and planes, people had no way of importing food from long-distances without it spoiling. Because of this, farms were necessary just outside of the city, and huge vegetable, fish and meat markets were common establishments with all their noise and chaos. People knew exactly where their food came from and how it was made.
Today, most people know very little about their food. Instead of being limited to the immediate resources, palettes are becoming more globalized as people have easy access to dishes from all over the world. Still, “Food Politics and Culture” argued that it is still important to maintain awareness about one’s food. Hixon and his class visited several different markets across London to experience the way that each demonstrated an awareness of their food. Many were very touristy and expensive, but some retained a glimmer of authenticity in their recipes, prices and function as a community establishment.
On Thursday, Senior Emma Arnesen and Director of Off-campus programs Laura Zuege led an informational meeting in the Warch Cinema, giving an overview of the program, courses, opportunities and logistics of the London Centre. They also spoke about some changes at the London Centre, including the upcoming change of location. Lawrence will be partnering with Florida State University (FSU) for classroom, housing and office space. FSU has partnered with other schools in the past for the same purpose, including Grinnell and Oberlin. According to Zuege, “Lawrence has had a program in London since the summer of 1970 and our new partnership will allow us to keep the program growing with the needs and interests of Lawrence and our students.”
Afterwards, seniors Trent Guerrero and Hannah Gjerston, alumnus of the program, stayed to answer questions.
To end the week, Arnesen and Atkinson hosted a “Bjork-LONDON” weekend for London Centre alumni and students interested in applying for next year. Planned to be a weekend of British-themed games, information about the London Centre and group bonding, the student assistants found it to be a nice turnout with a mixture of alumni, students who will be traveling this Spring Term and those applying for next year.
This year’s London Week proved to be a success and Zuege is looking forward to the new interested students to apply. The 2018-19 year will be “particularly affordable” for students, said Zuege, as the price of the program will likely decrease. There are also many scholarships and funding opportunities available for a wide variety of students. With London Centre’s move, Zuege commented, “There will be many benefits to students […] including an even more central location, more modern student housing options, dedicated LU music practice space with piano, more convenient library access and a more personalized internship placement process. We are very excited for this exciting new chapter for the London Centre and what it will offer students.”