Updated: Nov 8, 2019
This week's BOSS Blog is written by Tim, someone who has graced BOSS with his presence for 4 years and 7 courses. In his own words, describes what it is like to work at BOSS below:
I was quite honoured when Neil asked to write a blog about being a member of staff at Buckswood Overseas Summer School and I was thinking to myself that this might take me a while. I am very grateful to be the first member of staff to pen my thoughts on this blog and I am grateful for this opportunity.
My journey with BOSS started in 2014 when I was meant to send Neil an email. My friend who had previously worked at BOSS had recommended that I apply for a job but I can tell you that the email, which has become an important piece of history in my life, is still sitting in my drafts folder to this day.
In 2015, I wanted to work at BOSS during the Spring Course but I left it too late and missed the application deadline but I was told that there were still positions available during the summer and got my application in straight away. This was probably the best thing for me at the time as I was coming to the end of my A-Levels and needed time to finish studying before ultimately taking my exams. I was offered a job as a Summer School Assistant. This involved me helping out wherever necessary around the summer school – running break times, helping to set up activities and helping to run activities, etc. I accepted and as soon as my exams were over I started my training along with the other staff members who were to work for BOSS over the summer. Some new like me and some returners.
In terms of the campus itself, I had a major head start as I had been a student at Buckswood School for 3 years and the environment was already something that I was familiar with. A major positive for me however was how diverse the staff line-up was with Ukrainian, Irish, Nigerian, Maltese and English people amongst others. This is a big thing at BOSS as everyone, both staff and students are very diverse in many different ways which offers both us staff and students to broaden our minds and to gain life experiences from many different perspectives.
In my first year when the students first arrived, I must admit that I was very nervous as I wasn’t sure what to say apart from “hello” and “how are you doing”. I remember one student walking up to me with a big smile and she said “you must be a new staff member. It’s nice to meet you!” She had been to BOSS before and knew everyone apart from new staff such as me. My first activity as a member of staff was ‘The Photo Challenge’ and next thing you know, I was taking pictures making funny faces and doing all sorts of acrobatics to help the students complete their task of taking photos of staff members doing silly things. I was the tallest so there was no hiding.
A few days later, I got into the groove of how everything worked and in no time, BOSS felt like a home to me. I began to feel so at home that I gained the confidence to use my initiative and started to manage the dining room during meal times by calling out which house could eat which is organised according to the House System how many house points each house has. During this time, I recall challenging Neil to a competition to see who knew the most names in the school. Between us we knew the names of all 200 students but I knew not only their first names but also their surnames!
At the end of my first summer with BOSS, I felt the same way the students feel on the last day. I didn’t want to go home. I had had such a wonderful time and had shared so many amazing experiences. I had made so many friends and felt (hoped) that I had at least had some sort of impact on the students who had spent their summer with us. One day during that summer, I remember finding a letter that a student had slipped under my door telling me about how much fun they’d had and how they will never forget their experience.
By 2016, I was promoted to the role of House Tutor. I finally had a house of my own and with it came a lot of extra responsibility. I didn’t just do Summer School in 2016, I also did the Spring Course and although I spent more time at BOSS in 2016, it went by in a flash and I was already packing my bags to return for the Spring Course in 2017, and then of course Summer School, already my fifth course at BOSS.
The role of a House Tutor doesn’t only involve being responsible for the safeguarding and welfare of our students, it also involves ensuring that your house is the best by fulfilling the role of a big brother, a team captain. Someone who encourages the students and enthuses them to be the best by having tidy rooms, the best songs, to be creative, by winning competitions and to think outside of the box amongst other things. The students are awarded house points and the house with the most points at the end of the week becomes the champions of that week, wins loads of pizzas and the right to eat first in the dining room for the whole of the following week. I hold a special place in my heart for 2017 because despite carrying out my role to the best of my ability and despite the students within my house trying their best, the weeks were whiling away and we just couldn’t win. Summer School is 7 weeks long and there are 6 houses at BOSS. This was the first time in BOSS history that a house had not won by week 6.
It was very close between us and another house who also like us, had not won yet that summer. On one particular evening, it was the talent show and despite us performing together as a house, not one student from my house had signed up for the individual performances. One house point is awarded per individual performer as well as increasing our chance to win a further 10 house points for best overall performance. It was a Thursday night, we were well behind and we only had until 7pm on the Friday to collect points. I began to come to terms with the fact that this was just not meant to be when suddenly, a student called Justin from Taiwan who spoke little to no English and had been very quiet for his first two weeks at BOSS, stepped up and decided to sign up to perform. What followed was Justin performing a dance to Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ which has gone down in BOSS history. Justin pulled off a legendary performance and not only did he gain ‘legend’ status as everyone suddenly wanted to be his friend, he single handedly motivated every single student under my care to go and win house points the following day. The rest, is history. We went on to become the champions of week 6 and we had our lovely pizza on the Friday evening.
Although I love my role as House Tutor, one thing that I repeatedly struggle with, although it is fun, is writing the house songs. My song writing skills aren’t that good but in summer 2017, I managed to pen a number that was so catchy that the students, not only from my house but also other houses, sang it from week 2 to week 7.
I could go on and continue to write about how this programme has improved me as a person and as a leader in general but I must begin to wrap it up. The feeling of impacting a child’s life is one that I am very proud of. From the early morning performances, to the morning games, to the afternoon activities, to the hot chocolate time in the evenings, to my personal bonding time with the students under my care during out house meetings, no two days are ever the same and this is incredible.
To all the kids, I have ever who have ever been in my house, to those who remember me after my 4 years at BOSS and 7 courses, I hope that you’re okay and doing well. To my colleagues, a big hello, I hope that you’re also doing well wherever you are and whatever you’re doing at the moment. And finally, thanks for the opportunity once again Neil.
Thank you very much to Tim for this wonderful insight into working at BOSS.
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