Lessons From Auschwitz Project Certificate and Accreditation

Today I was really pleased to receive my certificate and 3 ASDAN credits for my work on the Lessons from Auschwitz project as an ambassador for the Holocaust Education Trust

This is what the examiner wrote about my project:

Megan demonstrates a good understanding of the concentration and extermination camps as the outcome of Nazi racist policies. She stresses the need to emphasise the experiences of individuals to audiences rather than dwell exclusively on the statistics of death, horrifying as they are. Megan makes reference to contemporary examples of discrimination against homosexuals and how such prejudices should be challenged. In association with her colleague she has organised a number of methods of teaching audiences through a newspaper article, blogs on the internet, an album for the school library and planned talks within school.’

You can read about my project and see my photo album here.

photo

Prize Giving

I’m really happy because I found out today that I have been awarded the Nowell History Cup and the Governor’s Award for academic achievement, as well as the Old Edwardian’s Plate for Community Service. The community service award was for all the charity work I’ve been doing for Malaria No More and for my volunteering in childcare and at Katharine House Hospice. It’s really encouraging and has motivated me to carry on doing more.

UK CAT Test

Yesterday I took my UKCAT test, and was very pleased with my result, which was better than I had expected. These are some of the books I used to practice with. 

image from http://media.johnwiley.com.au/product_data/coverImage/45/11199658/1119965845.jpg

This book was useful for practice mock tests, but I used it less than the others.

image from http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41hJjKtD7rL._SY300_.jpg

This book was probably the most useful with very similar questions to the real test.

Now I just have to decide where to apply….

Katharine House Hospice Voluntary Work

Volunteering at my local hospice has taught me a lot about patient care, for instance I now realise how many different people are involved in providing support and treatment for the patients. Throughout the day, nurses, physiotherapists, doctors, nutritionists and volunteers work together as a multidisciplinary team to make sure that the patients are comfortable. I was surprised at how much there was available to do at the hospice – we put on craft activities, talks or patients can have a massage or have their hair done. 

Although many of the patients have similar illnesses or symptoms, each person is unique and we treat everyone as an individual – many people like to have their own particular arm chair that they like to sit in, or a particular biscuit or cup for their tea. Everyone chooses their own meal from a menu and they can request special food or treats. It’s so important to keep the hospice sterile and we make sure to keep clean and wear gloves when preparing food or tea, but take them off when we serve the patients, to be less clinical. I’ve noticed how small things like these make the hospice such a comfortable and homey environment to spend time in, helping the patients to feel at ease. 

I’ve also seen how much the patients gain from their time at the hospice. They are able to talk to each other and relate to each other about what they are going through. Many of the patients told me how they get annoyed when people say “I know how you feel” because they don’t, but having the support and reassurance of others going through the same or similar conditions can be really beneficial. The hospice is a place where people aren’t afraid to talk about how they feel and they can say that actually, they’re not feeling fine when asked how they are. 

I’m really enjoying my time volunteering at the hospice. It’s improving my communication skills; talking to the patients about their families or outings or jewellery is really fascinating and I’ve been lucky enough to meet some lovely interesting people. I’ve also greatly improved my domino skills after playing so many games with the patients there! 

Gold Duke of Edinburgh Expedition 28th June – 3rd July

A group of 12 of us set off on Friday morning, arriving at a campsite in Dartmoor in the afternoon. The first couple of days were acclimatisation days. On Saturday we went out for a walk with a couple of teachers to practice our compass work and navigation skills. After lunch we drove into Dartmoor town, past the prison and looked around the visitor’s centre to gain information for our group work about ‘Human Influences On Dartmoor Throughout The Ages’. That evening we had a barbeque and prepared for the four days ahead.

On Sunday we were driven to our starting point and we set off. There were lots of wild horses wandering around but we couldn’t see much more wildlife in the mist. We were going along well until we reached a split in the path where we got a bit confused, so three others went a little ahead and checked one route by taking a bearing but it was wrong so we carried on straight. I was the photographer so I took lots of pictures of the stone ruins and other points of human influence as we walked along. We reached a stream that we needed to cross and met a different D of E group there, so we waited for them to cross before carrying on. Adam went first but the rocks were quite loose and he dropped his bag into the stream and it got very wet. There was another disaster when I wanted to take a picture of a windmill and realised I’d lost my camera. Katherine, Diya and I ran back a short way down the hill and luckily I found it, but then we had to climb back up to the others. Amazingly, we reached the first checkpoint on time after trudging up a marshy hill and soaking our boots. We were happy to fill up our water bottles and have a short rest because it was getting very hot.

We carried on walking and stopped for lunch later, on the top of a hill with a great view. We topped up our sun cream because by then the mist had gone and it was really sunny. The route on day one was fairly easy and enjoyable. We met a couple of the teachers again at a checkpoint near to the old tin mines and then kept walking. We lay in the sun for a short while on a hill before meeting two other teachers by a rock and we headed down to set up our wild camp. It was about half past five when we put up our tents next to Black Ford and then started cooking our dinner on a meths stove. It was quite warm so we ate outside and then washed up our plates in the stream before going inside our tents, although it was hard to get to sleep after discovering a dead sheep right outside our tent.

On Monday we had packed up and eaten breakfast by seven so we set off again, over the moorland. We got quite lost early on trying to find a wall, which was on the map but not actually there at all. Eventually we found the large lake next to some old clay works and got back on track. From then on it was hard work as we kept sinking in the wet and muddy marsh and we had to leap from one lump of dry grass to another to try and avoid getting our boots any wetter. We got through the moorland eventually and out of Dartmoor then carried on walking. We reached the top of a large hill and waded through spiky plants until we could see the reservoir and we made our way down. It was late afternoon when we arrived at the checkpoint by the reservoir and topped up water and used the proper toilet. I realised I was very sunburnt, so I covered myself in sun cream and had to put on a fleece to cover my red arms despite the boiling temperature! We made our way through a village and then walked along the river. We realised we’d taken a wrong turn so we planned to re-join the route after crossing some stepping-stones and corrected ourselves quite quickly. There was a short stretch of road leading to our camp but it seemed to go on forever. We arrived and went to sleep almost immediately after putting up the tents and cooking some tasty hot rice.

When we woke up on Tuesday there were swarms of flies, which filled the tent as soon as we zipped it open. We packed up quickly and set off by seven. The third day was the least enjoyable with frequent showers, mist and lots of hills. We started off in the morning with our waterproofs and woolly hats, as we climbed the first Tor. Later on at the top of another Tor we saw the other group from our school but waited for them to go ahead before we carried on. A while later, we saw a couple of teachers, from a different school, and they filled our water bottles then headed off. We made our way down to the valley and crossed a bridge when the mist suddenly came over and so we could no longer see. We decided to wait there and let it clear, but it started to rain heavily so we changed our minds and headed up the hill. The mist was so thick we couldn’t see the valley or anything else once we reached the top and the path disappeared. We set our compasses for Manga Rock, the next point and started walking in that direction. We decided that three people should go a little way ahead and the others wait until we whistled. We kept checking the compass and counted our steps to work out how far we’d come. The weather was worsening and we weren’t sure if it was the right direction. Some of the group wanted to use the emergency phone but we tried to stay positive and we encouraged each other so we carried on. The ground was very uneven and there were lots of holes, which we kept falling into. Finally, we reached the rock and we could see the Tors we needed to get to in the distance. We took bearings then carried on walking until we stopped by a wall that gave us a bit of shelter from the rain and strong wind, where we ate lunch.

We walked on, more confident that we were on the right track because the mist had lifted slightly and we were able to see certain checkpoints. We walked past the stone ruins and hut circle on the top of a Tor, but we weren’t sure where to turn off and head down to the valley so we left the path and went down too early.

Luckily the teachers were waiting at a checkpoint below and spotted Katherine’s neon yellow rucksack cover. We found them and they helped us to find out where we were and we reached the checkpoint by the stream. We then had to go through a village and carried on a bit further to our second wild camp at Gulliver’s Steps. It was so windy when we arrived that it took all of us to put up one tent at a time so that they didn’t blow away. Katherine and I started cooking and ate our dinner outside, while the others stayed in their tents because it was freezing cold and really wet.

We got up at about six in the morning and started our last day of walking. We found quite a lot of army debris around the campsite and on our route, which was very close to the army’s shooting range. We began to follow our planned route but the track was closed because there was shooting and we saw a large army truck drive past with lots of soldiers. We had to turn back and use a different path to get back on route. Later on we found ourselves in the middle of an army camp and there were hundreds of soldiers asleep in tents all around us, so we crept quietly past. We had to climb some more hills and I took some pictures of the wild horses we passed. We reached the reservoir quite early, at about 10:30, as it started to rain. We had a short break and saw the teachers before setting off again for the last leg. I had hurt my ankle which was quite painful but we carried on at a slower pace. We sat down in a field for a rest but had to get up quickly when we saw people on horses coming towards us, who were herding cows into a field further up. Eventually we found the river Lyd in Lydford and knew that we had just about reached the end. It was such a relief to see the school minibuses and the teachers waiting for us at the end. We arrived just past lunchtime and evaluated our expedition with our assessor. We were all happy that we passed, and it felt so good to get on to the bus and sit down!

Enough Food For Everyone IF

‘The world produces enough food for everyone, but not everyone has enough food. We can change this in 2013. IF we act together, we can make this year the beginning of the end for global hunger’ – Enough Food For Everyone IF

Today I received an invitation from Live Below The Line to join in the IF campaign, which is a coalition of nearly 200 charities that have come together to demand action from the world’s richest leaders when they meet in the UK in June.

The Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign is organising a ‘rally against hunger’ event in Hyde Park on 8th June with music, activism and a chance to tell those world leaders to make significant progress on the issues of food and hunger.

You can register for the event here now.

IF LAND IS USED FOR FOOD, NOT FUEL

IF’s simple message is put across very well in this youtube video…

A reflection of my ‘Lessons From Auschwitz’

Recently I went on a visit to Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau, with the Holocaust Education Trust. As a part of my ‘Next Steps‘ project, I’d like to raise awareness and educate others about the Holocaust and its consequences. 

Before the Lessons From Auschwitz project, I was really interested in gaining a better understanding of the Holocaust, especially its effects on individuals who were a part of it, and its effects worldwide.

At the Orientation Seminar, it was fascinating to hear about pre-war Jewish life and discover what it was like for different families before they were persecuted. Looking at photos of these individuals had a great impact on me, because I felt I could relate to them, but couldn’t imagine going through the horrors of the Holocaust, which they then went on to face. I was so inspired by Kitty Hart-Moxon’s strength and courage as she told us of the suffering she faced at Auschwitz, and by her determination to educate others. She made it easier for me to imagine what life was really like at the camp after listening to her account.

I wasn’t sure what to expect before visiting the camps, and when we arrived it seemed a bit surreal. As we were walking though the dormitories, it was hard to picture the buildings full of thousands of people. I was really moved when I saw the huge pile of hair. To me, it showed how the victims were treated so callously, and how their individuality was stripped away from them as soon as they entered the camp. Seeing a child’s precious doll, with its head brutally smashed was also very touching. I could imagine the young girl had brought it with her for comfort, yet it had been broken and shattered like all the victims of the Holocaust. Trying to take in the overwhelming scale of Auschwitz was also quite difficult. In the mist it seemed to go on forever.

From my visit to Auschwitz, I’ve learnt a lot about human nature, and about how it’s impossible to place the blame of the Holocaust on a single perpetrator, because we’re all responsible for each other. People such as the train driver, who transported people into the camp, may not have been killing them directly, but still played a part in the Holocaust, as did millions of other ordinary individuals. Kitty said she saw the best and the worst of humanity at Auschwitz, and that she couldn’t have survived without the strong friendships she made. I’ve learnt we all have to look out for each other, and not only tolerate but celebrate differences in society. I aim to spread understanding of what happens when we’re not accepting of these differences, as I’ve seen by visiting Auschwitz. It’s so important to remember the atrocities that took place, to make sure future generations know the consequences of Nazi persecution and of all genocide.

Visiting Auschwitz was a humbling and life-changing experience. I’ve become much more grateful for the society I live in where I have my freedom; as I know that others like me, aren’t so lucky. 

These are a few pages from the photobook I made about my visit to Aushwitz.

auschwitz book 2auschwitz book 4auschwitz book 3

You can view the complete book online here.

Living Below The Line Press Release by Malaria No More

The other day, Malaria No More sent me this press release that they have written about me and Jeremy Lefroy ‘living below the line’. 

Staffordshire MP and sixth form student live below the poverty line on £1 a day to save lives from malaria

7th May 2013: How much change can you make from £1? This is the question that Jeremy Lefroy, MP for Stafford and Megan Owen, a sixth form student, are asking themselves as they live on a budget of £1 a day for all food and drink for five days.

They are taking part in Live Below the Line – an innovative campaign to fight extreme poverty. It challenges the public to get sponsored to cut their spending on food and drink to just £1 a day. This budget is a daily reality for the 1.4 billion people around the world who are forced to live below the poverty line every day, for absolutely everything.

Jeremy and Megan are doing the challenge in support of Malaria No More UK as they have both experienced the devastating impact of the disease while living in Africa. Jeremy caught malaria twice during his 11 years working with smallholder farmers in Tanzania (1989-2000) and Megan’s brother suffered from malaria when her family spent five years in Malawi (2008 -2012).

This experience shaped their personal and professional directions on returning to the UK. For Megan it has fuelled a keen interest in tropical medicine and she hopes to become a doctor. Jeremy, who was elected to Parliament in 2010 and has retained a strong interest in African issues, he sits on the influential International Development Select Committee and Chairs an active All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases. It was in this guise that he invited Megan to speak at a meeting the group organised at the Houses of Parliament to mark World Malaria Day on 25 April. 

Megan says: “I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at the Houses of Parliament, but I was warmly welcomed by Jeremy, and he asked me to speak first. There were many people attending the event, including MPs and global health experts, and the theme of the evening was the World Malaria Day theme: ‘Invest in The Future: Defeat Malaria’.

Jeremy adds: “It was our privilege to welcome Megan. Her own story takes us beyond the statistics and speaks volumes about the daily impact of malaria in Africa. She saw her brother suffer and mercifully recover from malaria thanks to swift treatment. We want this to be the case for families across Africa. No parent should lose a child to a preventable disease that costs £1 to treat”.

Jeremy and Megan have since pledged to Live Below the Line. The challenge is in its third year in the UK, and growing strong with almost 5000 people registered so far, raising over £400,000 for charities, including Malaria No More UK. The charity works tirelessly to save and protect millions of lives from malaria, a preventable disease that remains a leading killer of young children in Africa.

Jeremy is doing the challenge one day a week due to his parliamentary schedule, with one week down and four left to go. He reflects: “I wanted to take the opportunity to experience life with my choices totally curtailed – the daily reality for 1.4 billion people today. The challenge also gives a timely excuse to raise awareness about a cause close to my heart – malaria. It is unacceptable that this preventable disease still claims the life of a child every minute and we need to do all we can to sustain support to save the lives of the most vulnerable”.

Megan completed her challenge during the Live Below the Line week from 29 April – 3 May. She says: “I was really surprised at how much I could get for my money, although I wish I could have afforded more fresh fruit and vegetables. I missed drinking a cup of tea! But the time goes quickly and it is a great opportunity to raise awareness about malaria – a disease that is, not only caused by poverty, but causes poverty”.

Money raised for Malaria No More UK will be used to help save lives in Africa, where most deaths from malaria take place and where the disease is an ongoing contributor to the cycle of poverty, preventing children from going to school and workers from earning a living.

www.livebelowtheline.org.uk

Lessons from Auschwitz – Next Steps Project

On 13th February 2013, I was selected to go on a one-day visit to Auschwitz I and Auschwitz-Birkenau with the Holocaust Education Trust. The day was very moving and I shall never forget the experience.

As part of my Next Steps Project, my friend and I have compiled a book of our photos, together with testimonies from survivors. We shall present the book to our school in a special assembly, so that we can share our experience and pass on what we have learned. Hopefully, we shall encourage other students and members of our local community to think about the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance. 

auschwitz book 2auschwitz book 4auschwitz book 3

You can view my complete photo book online here.

image from http://www.jewishlegacy.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/logo4.jpg

Last Day of Living Below The Line

I’ve nearly finished living below the line for 5 days – just one banana left to eat. I’m really looking forward to eating what I want tomorrow. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, as the rice and pasta was very filling, just a bit boring. It was tough watching my brothers and sister eating ice lollies and nice food though…

Next year, if I do it again, I shan’t bother buying jam or fish paste, as I only had a little bit of jam and didn’t even open the jar of paste. Teabags would be better, if I can afford them. It would definitely be easier to do it with someone else too, as you could share food and have more variety. The extra support would be good too.

Thanks very much to everyone who has donated and supported me, hopefully I’ll reach my target for Malaria No More soon. If you’d still like to donate, please click here, it’s very easy!

image from http://www.thehungerproject.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Live-Below-the-Line-Global-Poverty-Project-for-The-Hunger-Project-UK_Box-288x300.jpg

 

Living Below The Line – Day 1

live below line food

This is all the food I bought for 5 days living below the line. Altogether it cost exactly 5 pounds from Aldi. I was really surprised at how much I could get for my money, although I wish I could have afforded more fresh fruit and vegetables. 

live below line receipt

I thought I’d have a couple of slices of bread for breakfast – either beans on toast or bread and jam. Lunch is 100g of pasta with tomato and herb sauce. I can have 4 – 5 custard creams a day as a snack, and dinner is rice with chilli kidney beans or mushroom and tomato sauce. I can have 1 pudding a day – strawberry yoghurt or a banana. Mmmmmmmm!

live below the line mealThis is a picture of my dinner tonight. If you feel sorry for me, and you’d like to help me raise funds for Malaria No More, please donate here now. Thanks!