In At the Deep End!: Reflecting on My First Week at OBV


Thais Thomas joined OBV last Monday in Oxford on our Pathway to Success residential for her first day, and her feet have barely touched the ground since.  Thais is a EUSA internship programme participant from Trinidad and Tobago, and is studying in Abu Dhabi majoring in History, and minoring in Legal studies and African studies.  Thais will be with us until mid December. Welcome aboard!

Upon being offered an internship at OBV, I immediately began to look forward to witnessing all of the programmes and schemes for which the organisation is so well known. I was told that I would be at both Oxford and Westminster, all in my first week. For someone who had neither been to the United Kingdom, nor interned at a political organisation, much ran through my head about what I was about to experience. These expectations were far surpassed.

In this week of firsts, I took the train for the first time from London to Oxford. As I entered the Blavatnik School of Government and sat in a room surrounded by various professionals and politicians, I quickly realised the calibre of the programme. Sitting in on that first day of master classes, I was introduced to the diverse, passionate and driven individuals that comprised the first cohort of the programme. It would be an understatement to say that I was inspired by their stories and perspectives. Over the next two days I would have the opportunity to meet them and listen to what they had to say about various topics, small and large scale. As a young student, I surely benefitted from their words of wisdom which I will remember throughout my professional life.

Furthermore, as a student new to the UK, and only here for a few months, it was a unique opportunity to experience various infamous places steeped in tradition and important to the UK identity. On Tuesday, I was able to go to Westminster for the first time. Portcullis House, the House of Commons Library, and the other sites were just as impressive as I thought they would be. Thanks to the collaboration of the House of Commons staff, I was privy to a touching speech by a tearful John Bercow mere hours after he announced that he would stand down as Speaker of the House of Commons. Later we heard from BAME and female members of Parliament, and even Peers. I think these voices were a great introduction to UK politicians for me. I was also able to visit and sit in on master classes at not one but two of the schools at the University of Oxford, an opportunity that I did not foresee for myself in the near or distant future, but will surely be reiterated by my parents for many years to come.

The grandeur of this programme was truly illustrated through the speakers who took the time to present to this group of professionals. With topics ranging from policy-making to campaign management, they all brought interesting experience and advice. In my opinion, these master classes were invaluable not only because of the insight of the speakers, but also due to the important discussions that their presentations brought out among the group.

Witnessing the Pathway to Success Programme felt like being a part of history in the making. Meeting and listening to all of the aforementioned individuals gave me a sense of hope for diversity and integration in the future of UK politics, as well as an odd sense of pride in being a young black woman. Undoubtedly, it was an honour to be a part of this endeavour.


Thais Thomas