Lessons From Afar

Akshat Goyal, a Dubai student in Grade 12, won a scholarship to attend a summer course with the UK’s Cambridge School of Visual and Performing Arts. Here’s how he got on

With high hopes for the future, 16-year-old Akshat Goyal, a student at GEMS Modern Academy – Dubai, wants to pursue a career in architecture and eventually become one of the best architects in the world. Last summer, he had the good fortune of attending a two-week programme with Cambridge School of Visual and Performing Arts (CSVPA) in the university city of Cambridge in the UK – the experience proved rewarding on multiple levels.

The opportunity came about thanks to the GEMS UniConnect programme, which partners with academic institutions all over the world with the aim of offering GEMS Education students exclusive access to scholarships, fee discounts and other opportunities. After submitting a series of essays for consideration by CSVPA, Akshat was awarded a full scholarship to attend a two-week summer programme that covered painting, drawing and 3D design.

Naturally, he jumped at the chance. And apart from the unpredictable British weather, Akshat enjoyed every aspect of his time in Cambridge, pointing to numerous highlights, including his fellow students, the teachers, the course itself, the city and the overall stay.

“I made new friends from various countries like France and Korea, and I learned about their cultures,” he says. “The diversity of the group made the whole learning experience a fun exercise. The teachers were very helpful and I got to learn all kinds of new things.”

Akshat meeting CSVPA’s Architecture Head of Department

Yet the standout experience for Akshat was meeting CSVPA’s Architecture Head of Department, who helped him finalise his architecture portfolio for university admissions and who offered words of encouragement and praised his enthusiasm for the subject. This feedback has reaffirmed his decision to pursue a career in architecture and served to motivate him even further.

A Valuable Experience

The first week of the course covered painting and drawing, followed by a focus on 3D design in the second week. “The programme has helped me immensely,” says Akshat.

I learned to use various mediums and different kinds of paper and this taught me how to visualise various structures in three dimensions. I learned about perspective, sculpting and programs for designing in 3D. I know all these new experiences are going to be extremely useful to me when I study architecture, as the course requires a lot of 3D visualisation.

It wasn’t all work and no play, however, as Akshat had ample opportunity to explore Cambridge in his free time. Various activities were laid on after 6pm, but students could opt out of these and head into town on their own. Even study time was pleasurable and Akshat remembers fondly a class trip in the first week to Cambridge University Botanical Garden where they sketched sceneries and flora.

So, would he recommend the experience? “Yes, yes, yes, definitely!” says Akshat, leaving no room for doubt. “I think this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. Absorbing the beautiful and positive energy from Cambridge and having the chance to live like a college student was really enjoyable. The learning from the course was immense. I hope it helps me excel in my chosen career.”

Summer 2020 Scholarships

Under the GEMS UniConnect programme, students will next year again have the opportunity to benefit from summer programme scholarships at CSVPA as well as CATS Colleges in both the UK and USA. Successful applicants will receive 50 per cent scholarships for the following courses:

  • CATS College London – two-week Bloomberg Advantage Programme
  • CATS College Canterbury – two-week Careers in Medicine Taster Programme
  • CSVPA – three-week Portfolio Preparation Programme and two-week
  • Game Design + 3D Design Programme
  • CATS Academy Boston – two-week Ivy League Programme and two-week STEM Programme