Genetics, rice cookers, and not being glamorous – life as a student model (Interview)

Chris Jammer is big. By which I mean that he’s huge. He’s 6’6” (and still growing), and has enough muscle on him to strike awe, wonder, and envy into the hearts of Cambridge Blues from Downing to Girton. But if anyone tries to tell you that big isn’t beautiful, introduce them to Chris.

He’s got one of those faces that you just have to stop and stare at for a while, just to take it all in, before you can realistically carry on with everyday life. It’s no wonder, then, that at the age of seventeen, a casting director found him on Facebook and asked him to take part in a shoot for i-D Magazine, a quarterly UK fashion magazine, and one of the industry’s hottest.

For Chris, that was where things started getting weird. “They bleached my hair and put fake tattoos across me, and got in the magazine, which is pretty good. I got signed with D1 [his agency] off the back of that, and it’s just gone from there really.”  Continue reading

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Planning ahead: WhichMayBall is best? (Interview)

James McAulay, founder of WhichMayBall, is a go-getter. I’d set the time and date for the interview, only to be rather unfortunately ill at the said time. No matter – James went to the Porters’ Lodge at Caius, had them ring me before coming up to my room himself, fresh cup of Nero coffee in hand. I awoke from one of those turgid daytime sleeps you only have when you’re ill to find a very eager interviewee at my door. Continue reading

Jail stints, bullet wounds, and tear gas – student life in the West Bank (Interview)

Hebron is the largest city in what is known as the ‘West Bank’, one of two discontiguous zones between which ethnic Palestinians are geographically divided. 1.8 million Palestinians live in Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas in the world, whilst 2.1 million live in the West Bank, where political tensions have been running high since 1967 because of the continued construction of Israeli settlements. In November of that year, the UN Security Council passed a resolution for all settlements in the West Bank to be dismantled, but this resolution has yet to be implemented. There are currently over 500,000 Israeli citizens living in what is, strictly speaking, Palestinian territory.

Hebron is the only city in which settlements have actually been built inside an existing Palestinian city, rather than simply as part of an Israelis-only village or town. Settlers in Hebron are defended from Palestinian locals by soldiers from the Israeli Defence Forces, heavily present throughout the city. There are four times as many Israeli soldiers as Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

On June 12th of this year, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped near Hebron, and in the following eleven days, Israel launched Operation Brother’s Keeper in the hope of a rescue,an operation in which the IDF arrested 350 Palestinians, killing five. On June 30th, the bodies of the Israeli teenagers were recovered. The Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, accused Hamas officials in Gaza of ordering the murders and vowed that Israel would take a “tough response”.

Mahmoud Khan and Ahmed Khalek are two twenty year olds both living in Hebron. After the June kidnappings, violent clashes began to erupt in the city, and fighting between IDF forces and the local population broke out on a daily basis. This intensified after the Israeli invasion of Gaza. We spoke to Mahmoud and Ahmed to find out about student life in such a deadly city.

On June 12th, the checkpoints were closed, and only reopened last month. For Mahmoud, it’s been a bad summer. “I couldn’t get out [of the West Bank]. They’ve closed the borders. From June, up until now, nobody was allowed out of Palestine.” Continue reading

Earning to give: 80,000 hours well-spent (Interview)

Matthew van der Merwe isn’t your average charity-loving philanthropist. Tall, dashing, clean-cut, and incredibly well-dressed, he goes against almost every pernicious and enduring stereotype of ‘the student charity hack’ you can imagine, and yet this is the Philosophy student driving one of Cambridge’s most sensible and forward-thinking charity organisations. A finalist at Gonville & Caius College, Matthew is the President of 80,000 Hours: Cambridge, our one-year-old chapter of the nationwide, and rapidly growing, charity.

What actually is 80,000 Hours?

80,000 Hours is the total time we spend working in life. Given how much time this is, it’s important to decide how to spend it, and what you want achieve with it. Continue reading

ChatPolitics Column: Cake or Death?

Scotland has decided. ‘No’ to independence, and ‘Yes’ to what may prove to be one of the most complicated, long, wrangling, and frustratingly politicised debates we have seen for a very long time. Bizarrely, and for the first time in decades, constitutional issues will be at the top of political parties’ election manifestoes as much as deficits, economies, and ‘I love the NHS more than you’ always have been.

Conference season has thus fallen at a particularly pertinent time. Rumours ran amuck that the Labour Party was flirting with the notion of cancelling the majority of their conference events, had the independence campaign tasted victory. Continue reading

Scotland Has Voted No, But What Does This Mean For Our Young People Across The UK?

The results are in, and Scotland has decided: the United Kingdom will remain united.

There’s been lots of noise about the way in which the referendum has engaged young people in politics, both by enfranchising 16 and 17 year olds in the voting process, and in offering a real alternative to business-as-usual party politics.

With everyone from prime ministers to protest party leaders putting in a pitch about what the referendum result means for the future of the UK, the question of how to best bring together our four nations is more pressing than ever. Why not ask those who’ll be most affected by whatever changes (or lack thereof) are coming our way? Continue reading