Flora is the president of New Turn at Queen Mary.
New Turn, a political neutral group, seeks to encourage political activity in young people. The society runs weekly events, workshops, school visits and publishes a magazine.
Flora is in charge or running events and getting distinguished speakers to come in and talk about a diverse range of issues. These events have helped Flora to become more confident in public speaking.
We’re a political organisation based in London across University of London Union and Queen Mary. We won a whole host of things. We do weekly events at university campuses, we do workshops, we run a magazine and we do a schools workshop programme where we go into schools. The whole idea of New Turn is to help encourage political activity among young people. It’s not just about shopping apathy; it’s about them getting really involved.
I’m President at Queen Mary this year so at the university we work more with the events and less with the journalistic aspect or in the school, so we organise the events – such as booking the rooms, contacting the speakers, things like that.
I think the best thing for me being involved in New Turn – apart from the fact that I actually always enjoyed going to the talks – is the people I’ve met. Because I didn’t live on campus in first year, I personally found it was the most effective way to meet people that had similar life wishes as I did. We don’t agree politically, one of the nice things about New Turn is it’s a politically neutral society.
Top three attributes developed through an extracurricular activity:
Explain and argue clearly and concisely:
I think public speaking is definitely one of them. I did a bit of public speaking before New Turn but coming to Queen Mary – I’m not much of a debater, I didn’t want something as rigid as that – and being part of the committee at New Turn and going to the events before I got properly involved in New Turn just as a member. I built up the confidence after going to a few just to ask questions, because it’s easy to ask questions in a seminar or something like that but when you’re opposite Lord Adonis or John Bercow or someone like that, it’s a little bit more nerve-wracking to ask them something about a piece of policy they’ve written.
Engage with the professional world:
It’s really nice to work in a politically neutral environment professionally but where everyone’s got their own opinions. It means that we can bring in some really interesting speakers that some of the other societies don’t get because they’re much more focussed on a particular issue. We can have quite controversial things and funny debates – when Lord Adonis came in the other week he was looking through our programme of events and was like, ‘this house would vote for Mitt Romney?’ It’s not very focussed and we hope that that encourages people with a whole diverse range of political views to come along.
Develop effective spoken and written English:
You get controversial speakers in where you think everyone’s going to come and troll this debate, basically everyone’s going to disagree with them, and actually there is always a few people there that do agree with them and that do support their views or values. Apart from the fact that you get to hear a sort of professional talk on this controversial topic you also get to see that there are people that believe the same thing and it’s not just this sort of one lunatic with these far out there political views, so I do think it helps you get a wider perspective on people.