So yesterday evening I went to the first meeting / event / social of Swansea University Beer Pong Society. I was one of the people who got half price membership after getting the ball into the cup at the freshers’ fayre – I assure you, it was a HUGE fluke.
Similar to what the ‘NUS drink aware’ lobby are feeling right now as they read this article – I was apprehensive, and definitely not up for a laddish time (my excuse, however is that I *still* have freshers flu…) However, seeing as I won half priced membership and because Eva Donoghue (Society President) is just excellent banter, I decided to actually give it a go.
So I rocked up in the most ridiculous outfit (shirt, blazer and the dirtiest jeans known to man) and immediately noticed that the atmosphere was something completely different to what I expected. It was both chilled out and electric. Tom Upton, the Societies and Services Officer was DJ’ing with Lewis Crompton (OMG DJ) – they stressed that no one was to be forced to drink, and to be fair to everyone, no one actually was. In fact, even when playing competitively, it was more about the game than getting lamp-shaded.
People played for fun and competitively. Those like Amy and me, who took part competitively, were in the run to win some amazing prizes: V-suit plus champagne on any Monday for ten people, Boudoir booth on ‘versus’ night for ten people, and third prize was Free entry and queue jump for two at Sin Savers. Pretty sweet.
Amy Drawbridge and I were in the appropriately named team ‘The Black Kidz’ (though her idea, she had no say in the spelling – I can hear what you’re thinking. SHUT UP! I *am* down with the kids, shh!) – we won one game and lost the next. Our game play was simultaneously excellent and tragic; every time we’d miss a shot – we missed it, ridiculously, every time we’d get it in – it was as if the ball flew out of the hand of God and fell elegantly into the welcoming arms of beer-y goodness. The whole event was actually quite stimulating. The 4 pints for £7 kept us merry (yes, it included cider too) and the evening was busy throughout.
The next Beer Pong event is this Saturday in Divas (DV8). Give it a go – I’m willing to bet that you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Click here to go to their facebook page.
We all know about Whitehall – those big Government buildings that span the North bank with office after office of nameless Civil Servants who come up with new policies to pass on to their MP- but have many experienced what actually goes on in those big old buildings? Well, for two weeks this summer, I did.
Yep, I got one of those awesome name/face badges that you scan to get to places no one else can and got to explore the ins and outs of Westminster. I spent those two weeks in Oliver Letwin’s policy office, which comprised of one guy in an office with a few others, who all worked for different Conservative MPs.
This is a completely different world to which we imagine- with Toffs strolling around who are out of touch with the real world and only care about making life easier for the wealthy and hard for those less so- but it wasn’t. It was fascinating, intriguing and exciting.
I learnt more in those two weeks about politics and the workings of Government than I ever did during A-level Politics. I wasn’t just made to do boring filing for two weeks, I researched interesting topics and compiled the information and I also helped created a website to help benefit local communities. I was part of something.
While I was there I also got to meet Higo Swires (who is the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland), Gregory Barker (Minister of State for Climate Change) and I got to go inside No. 10!! This was very exciting. We visited all of the State rooms- including the Cabinet room- saw the famous stairs- with the portraits of every Prime Minister- and Winston Churchill’s various amendments to the house. We even passed by Nick Clegg on his way to a Cabinet meeting.
Many people may have negative perceptions of Conservative MPs and their supporters, but they really are doing things that they believe are the best for the country- and I mean the country as a whole, not just segments. And having witnessed the effort which is being made to get things done and the progress so far, I would say to all those that believe (and no doubt will carry on believing despite this) that all Conservatives are heartless, cruel people who want to screw over the poorest in society that this is truly not the case.
Having spent time immersed in the world where politics actually does matter I realised it’s not so much about parties, or at least it shouldn’t, it’s about working together to try and re-build things that are broken for the benefit of everyone. So to anyone that’s interested, I would definitely recommend applying for an internship with your local MP because you will experience a different side to things. Oh, and the food in the restaurants is pretty good too!
The Kite. An unfettered explorer teasing the air with her buoyancy and the irrepressible symbol of vibrancy. However, the kite also represents the discrimination and oppression that continues to confront women living in the Taliban occupied regions of Afghanistan. It is therefore the spearhead of Amnesty International’s September campaign – ‘Kites for Women’s Rights’.
Under the dictatorial regime of the Taliban, many recreational activities were forbidden including the traditional Afghan pastime of Kite Flying, known as ‘Gudiparan Bazi’ in Dari. Prior to the rise of the Taliban regime, women in Afghanistan had the right to vote and constitutional equality. They also flourished in employment, with approximately 70% of schoolteachers, 50% of government workers and 40% of doctors in the capital of Kabul being female.
Despite Islam teaching the protection of the rights of women, including specific provisions defining women’s marriage and divorce rights and our right to own property, the Taliban enforced an extremely strict interpretation of Sharia law which stripped women of their identity and the rights to which they were entitled.
On the seizing of Kabul in 1996 the wearing of the burqa become compulsory, and women were subjected to threats, fines or immediate beatings for not complying. The world of work and education became inaccessible to women over the age of eight. Furthermore, their movement was incredibly restricted: women required their male relatives – ‘mahram’ – to chaperone them everywhere.
In effect, Women became imprisoned in their own homes. The Taliban would order men to black out the windows of their houses, to ensure that nobody could catch a glimpse of a female from the outside. Subject to rape, violence, public execution and abduction women would sink further into poverty and deprivation. Women would become devoid of the skills and confidence to function independently in the modern world.
The 7th of October will mark the 10th anniversary of the U.S-led international intervention to expel the Taliban, and since 2001 many advances have made to improve the rights of women in Afghanistan. There have even been a notable increase in women’s access to education and representation in Parliament.
Throughout September, Amnesty will be encouraging individuals to make their own kites and send them to the U.K government, urging them not to compromise on women’s rights while in peace negotiations with the Taliban at the Bonn Conference on the 5th December 2011. Be sure to join Amnesty at the Fresher’s Fayre and get involved in Kites for Women’s Rights!