Y13 stories from the 2015 Hay Festival in Segovia

Last week seven Year 13 students, accompanied by Mrs Kelly and Mr Petrie, were privileged enough to participate in a free exchange of ideas with an actively engaged and probing audience at Hay Festival in Segovia.

The Hay Festival features talks, debates, concerts and art exhibitions every year in different locations worldwide: Segovia in Spain, Hay-on-Wye in Wales, Cartagena in Colombia, Dhaka in Bangladesh, among others.

According to the organisers, “Hay brings writers and readers together to share stories and ideas in sustainable events on five continents. Our festivals inspire, examine and entertain.” Mrs Cremaschi, Hay Festival manager, emphasises: “It is one of the most important multicultural meetings in the world.”

Segovia celebrated its tenth anniversary this year. This made it possible for the audience to attend events at some extraordinary venues which were only open during the festival, such as Romanesque churches, palaces, convents, gardens and the Alhóndiga, a World Heritage site. On the whole, it was an unforgettable and remarkable experience from beginning to end.

According to Mr Petrie, BSB Deputy Head of Secondary, “This Festival provides a wonderful opportunity for students to open their minds and become engaged with such a huge range of ideas. It is intellectually challenging but really exciting to up close and personal with so many thought-provoking speakers. It was a real pleasure, not only to accompany the BSB students to the talks and to show them the history-rich sites of Segovia itself, but also just to have the time to discuss issues and ideas with them over the course of the long weekend. I sense they have come back energised by what they have seen and heard and I hope we get even more students on the trip next year.”

But let us now hear what the students themselves thought about the Festival:

“7 students and 2 teachers partook in the 4-day trip to Segovia, and the Hay Literature and Arts Festival taking place there. After a comfortable arrival at Hostal Don Jaime, a cosy hotel just 2 minutes walk from the picturesque Roman aqueduct in the centre of town, we walked down to a converted prison for our first taste of the Festival: a flamenco concert inspired by Arab poetry, with an incredible guitarist and experienced singer making the event all the more enjoyable. Over the course of the weekend, we were able to attend a number of talks on a variety of topics from philosophy and politics to the future of journalism and feminism, as well as having the chance to explore the culturally rich old town of Segovia. Highlights included talks from an inspirational philosopher A.C. Grayling, an interview of ex-British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg regarding his time in power, and a discussion on Spain from four international correspondents. Many of the talks were held at the internationally renowned IE University’s campus, adding extra interest for those hoping to study there. Further highlights were the local suckling pig ‘cochinillo’, so tender it is cut with plates, and the fairytale castle which allegedly inspired Walt Disney, all which made for a great weekend away!”

Alexander, Year 13

We spent four days in Segovia for the Hay Festival. It’s a festival where both Spanish and English writers, philosophers, journalists, economists and politicians come to talk about their passions. There were debates, conversations, story telling, all taking place in the beautiful IE University. The city itself is stunning, filled with culture, churches, castles, with history around every corner. We learned a lot from some inspiring speeches but we also learned about presentation giving itself. I had a great experience and recommend it to anyone interested – definitely go!

Isabella, Year 13