Applicants who wanted to apply for the scholarship, which comprises a four-week TEFL course in San Francisco plus a language course, were asked to write a maximum of 1,000 words on the topic ‘San Francisco’, interpreted any way they choose.
The entries were assessed according to the quality of the writing, the relevance to the theme and the accuracy and variety of the language.
You can read David’s entry in full below.
San Francisco- Star Fleet and the Summer of Love
San Francisco is a city steeped in cinematic history. It is no mean feat to recall the number of times the city has provided the backdrop for a romantic comedy, high speed car chase or dramatic courtroom thriller. Think of titles such as ‘The Rock’, ‘Gone in 60 seconds’, ‘Dirty Harry’, ‘Escape from Alcatraz’ and ‘The Woman in Red’ and almost instantaneously you are beset by images of the golden gate bridge draped in a pacific sunset. However, it is not about any of these afore mentioned films that I wish to focus the attention of this essay.
In 1986 the fourth feature length film of the science fiction series ‘Star Trek’ was released. The film, entitled ‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’, was set in San Francisco and told the story of the crew of the ‘ U.S.S. Enterprise’, an intra galactic vessel from the 23rd century who returned to the San Francisco of the 1980s in order to prevent the destruction of Earth in the future.
Star Trek is based on the premise of an intra galactic peacekeeping agency known as ‘Star Fleet’, of which the ‘Enterprise’ was a member. In many ways Star Fleet is the equivalent of a 23rd century United Nations. It’s primary aim being to foster peaceful, working relations with extra terrestrial beings and to explore the unknown parts of our galaxy. Star Fleet’s headquarters? San Francisco.
The choice of the Star Trek writers to position the headquarters of Star Fleet in San Francisco is an intriguing one. Consider being asked to choose a city, on Earth, to pose as the head quarters for the largest peacekeeping force in the galaxy and I would hazard a guess that San Francisco would struggle to make the top five on your list. Surely an organisation of this size would demand the surroundings of a city with the strength of New York, the charisma of London or the flamboyance of Paris? Not so.
So what is it that San Francisco has or depicts that made it so appealing to the Star Trek writers as the home of their fictional heroes? In a word, peace. Since the 1960’s San Francisco has been synonymous with the ideology of a world of peace and harmony, the capital of free thinking and liberation. The catalyst for this long standing reputation is attributable to the ‘Summer of Love’ event held in 1967 in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The Summer of Love provided a platform for various youth movements across the U.S.A. to voice their opinions and protests against human rights and environmental injustices that were occurring throughout the world at the time. The event was labelled a “union of love and activism”.
The effect that the Summer of Love had on San Francisco and the rest of the world was profound. A song entitled ‘San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)’ was released in 1967 to co-inside with the Summer of Love and proved to be an instant success. The song became a symbol of hope across the U.S.A. and Europe where young people adopted it as an anthem of freedom.
With San Francisco’s reputation for peace and freedom in mind, it becomes perhaps more understandable why the early Star Trek writers chose the city as the spiritual home of their sci-fi adventures. Where better to place the headquarters of an organisation dedicated to the nurturing of friendships, peace and understanding than in the city that brought these concepts to the forefront of world thinking?
Star Trek may not seem to be the most obvious of links when thinking of San Francisco. However, for me, the two are intertwined in my reasons for wanting to study on a TEFL course and to teach a language abroad. Since a young age I enjoyed the Star Trek notion of being in far flung area of space, exploring new worlds and encountering the unknown and it is perhaps this aspect of my personality which attracts me to a TEFL course the most. The opportunity to visit foreign climes, interact with diverse cultures and to become part of the local community in those cultures is an ideal that I find strongly appealing.
I am aware of and have experienced some of the opportunities that knowing a foreign language can provide and the restraints that not knowing one can impose. To learn the skills that would help me to teach a language to others and enable them to explore new opportunities is the most significant benefit that I would hope to gain from a TEFL course. It is through the Suzanne Furstner Scholarship that I hope to learn these skills and develop the foundations for a career as a language teacher abroad. I hope you are able to consider my application.