“Look more excited Nicole!” Reflections on Carnival U at Carnival Expo

Carnival U at the Carnival Expo in Kia Oval, London

Regular readers of the CEL blog will already know Carnival U. For those who don’t, they are a team of 9 MSc events management charged with co-creating a Carnival University for the Carnival Expo at the Kia Oval which is part of a project led by Dr Nicole Ferdinand, BU Learning and Teaching Fellow 2017/18.  Just over a month ago Carnival U hit a major development milestone when they delivered 4 education seminars on history, fashion, rum and masquerade making and achieved some amazing results.

Carnival U in numbers. Follow Carnival U on Twitter @carnival_u




One of the big surprises was how successful the students were in developing workshop content that was simple and appealing to Expo attendees. For example, they proposed a “Fashion Workshop” rather than one titled “Carnival Costuming” or “Masquerade”, which broadened the appeal of the workshop, as well as provided unexpected content to attendees. “Make Your Own Carnival Mask” was a very popular workshop and it was a workshop of the students’ own design.

Lessons learned

One of the big lessons I took away from the experience was the importance of non-verbal communication. I was challenged by my students to deliver a history workshop that wasn’t boring. I had never done anything related to history, despite speaking at many Carnival-related events, precisely because I have struggled with making a history lesson on Carnival interesting. I got some simple tips from the Carnival U students that proved to be really effective.

  • Look excited – an obvious tip but it really works, just looking excited animates what you say and how you say it
  • Try a bit of re-enactment – one part of the workshop involved me re-enacting a historical practice, which was the part which interested students the most and made for some interesting Instagram videos
  • Keep them wanting more – when talks are kept short there’s way more scope for questions to be asked and for spontaneous interaction

Photo taken during the Carnival History Workshop at the Carnival Expo

For further updates on the project check the CEL blog and follow us on social media.

Facebook @carnivaluniversity2018

Instagram @carnival_u

Twitter @carnival_u


Dr Nicole Ferdinand is currently leading the BU Carnival University which is made possible by a BU Learning and Teaching Fellowship Grant from CEL. Dr Ferdinand is one of BU’s four Learning and Teaching Fellows for 2017/18.


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