People who know me will know that magic has always been a part of my life. My entire family has been involved in magic. My parents were entertainers, my brothers and cousins all perform and were students at the College of Magic, and my uncle David is the founder of the College of Magic. Before I was even old enough to become a student, I spent many happy days exploring this curious and historic building, which for a child was somewhat like Alice’s Wonderland – bursting with secrets and quirky characters.
When at last I turned ten, it was finally my turn. I was officially old enough to begin my journey into the exciting world of magic and I duly enrolled as a student. I didn’t quite have the typical introduction most students experience when they first discover the intriguing world of the College. After all, I had practically been born into this world. The College of Magic already felt like a second home to me. Nevertheless, I could not conceivably realise the impact this venture would ultimately have on my early development. Through interactions with many different people I learnt a lot about myself. My skills grew and improved as I was encouraged to be creative and develop ideas. I discovered I had a wonderfully active imagination and learnt how to translate novel ideas into an actual live performance. In the process I gained greatly in confidence which proved invaluable throughout my school years and beyond.
Whilst I loved my years as a student at the College of Magic, my most treasured memories are the years I spent as a volunteer teacher. It was during this period that I realised the true magic of the College and that is the positive transformation of young lives. It’s unbelievably special to have such an impact on a child’s life, to inspire hope and wonder. For many of the students the highlight of their week is to attend their magic classes on Saturday mornings at COM, providing a brief suspension from reality. I felt the same way. I could put aside my studies and problems of the week and spend a day indulging my imagination with childlike illusion and fantasy. Despite students coming from all walks of life, during the one-hour lessons all boundaries fall away and everyone is united on the same journey. As a teacher in this environment every moment is rewarding. Helping the students discover magic and then recreate it with their own hands gives each one a huge sense of personal accomplishment. Watching them invest in their classmates with empathy and identify with their nervous anxiety and eventual successes. And then, most importantly, watching them grow into uniquely individual and confident young adults over time. I found this to be a most fulfilling experience.
Besides teaching, I have many fond memories of planning and organizing social events at the College of Magic. My favourite was ‘Ladies of Magic’. I started this initiative in collaboration with fellow like-minded graduates to help enhance and support women interested in the art of magic. Ladies of Magic events were open to all the female students and graduates of the organization. This event typically took the form of an annual games night, planned with the assistance of long-time COM friends. These fun evenings would inevitably end with everyone in hysterics due to the amazing camaraderie and silly shenanigans. The core idea was to inspire a sense of solidarity among the female students and to help foster new friendships. Also, to provide a safe space to enjoy creative entertainment designed with a uniquely feminine touch. I believe this special collaboration to be integral to their progress at the College of Magic. Personally, I have made many wonderful friends through COM which benefitted me in many ways, especially through my ‘awkward’ teenage years. Events like Ladies of Magic and many other initiatives are some of the ways in which the College of Magic has promoted and supported women in the magic industry. I am truly proud to have been a part of that.
The College of Magic was an integral part of my life until an opportunity to further my studies in the U.S.A. presented itself. I am now a PhD student specializing in meteorology and atmospheric science at the Pennsylvania State University. Nevertheless, my heart still yearns for my College of Magic family that I was obliged to leave behind. I am truly grateful for the hands-on opportunities and life skills developed during my years at the College of Magic. I have gained much in consideration for others, as well as the confidence to pursue and realise my own sense of worth and purpose.