The following is an article which appeared in the UWC World bi annual publication printed in October 2010.
As leader of the Sadhana Friends Community Interaction, Bartosz prepares activities for adults with mental illnesses living in Sadhana Village, near the college campus. “We try to propose some art and sport activities as well as a bunch of games to encourage them to work in groups and cooperate with others,” says Bartosz. His first introduction to the Sadhana village left quite an impression on him: “I will never forget the first time I went to Sadhana Village. I was a little bit worried about how I could communicate and interact with the villagers without preparation and experience, but I didn’t need to worry because the easiness and kindness with which they welcomed us was marvelous.
In order to get more involved in the life of the communities around the college during first year, Bartosz also worked on a community interaction play, working with local children on a production of Peter Pan. “Our aim was to show children from the local villages how to prepare a play. I really appreciate the opportunity here to be an integral part of the local community,” he explains.
Bartosz’s commitment to community work began during his primary school education in Poland where children with disabilities were integrated into mainstream classrooms, “a wonderful but challenging experience.” In secondary school, he volunteered in a social welfare house for the elderly. Bartosz had always wanted to study abroad but expected this only to be possible for higher education. So when he came across the Polish National Committee website while researching opportunities for university, he was amazed such an opportunity existed. “The educational philosophy focusing on aspects other than academic areas was enchanting to me and I loved the fact the UWC brings together people from such diverse backgrounds,” he explains.
Bartosz describes his first year in India as the most influential year in his life, and hadn’t expected the experience to be such a major change. “Certainly, the beginning of the year was challenging, especially the transformation to an environment with different language, habits, people. At the beginning I found the combination of the monsoon, not having hot water, and some incidents being chased a monkey overwhelming. So at first I felt lonely but with time itall improved, the monsoon calmed down and the hot water came back! Now, what I enjoy most about my life here is living with people from such diverse Bartbackgrounds, getting to know them, realising how different and still similar we are to finally develop friendships for life. I also love intensity of my life, where every single day I commit myself to different activities.”
Bartosz has had the opportunity to get involved in the running of Mahindra’s unique biodiversity reserve (United World September 2008 and January 2009) through his membership of the college’s environmental Protection Activity (EPA). The group works on jobs in the reserve in the dry season such
as building paths, cleaning ponds and giving walking tours to visitors. During the monsoon season they organise recycling and make paper bags for the campus.
Bartosz’s out of the classroom activities also extend to badminton, yoga and volunteering in the Development office. He also enjoys participating in a variety of discussion groups such as the religion or gender sexuality discussions and participating in the college’s seminar programme ‘From Descartes to Dubai’ which offers lectures and discussions on modernism and postmodernism. “Throughout the year we were considering philosophical, cultural, and sociological aspects of these two ambiguous terms. I believe that these seminars gave me a closer look on the global issues and expanded my understanding of the popular culture and mass media,” says Bartosz.
Mahindra College has two project weeks in first year, the first focusing on community interaction and the second giving students the choice of returning to the same project or using the opportunity to travel. The community interaction project week took Bartosz to Sarnath village where he worked in the Alice Project School, Varanasi which offers children from surrounding villages holistic education including through yoga, meditation, philosophy and religious tolerance.The UWC students observed classes and prepared lessons for the children. Bartosz organised a talent show with theatre games and painted a world map for the school. “The week was a splendid opportunity for us to learn different educational methods which could be used in our community interactions back atthe college” he reflects. Bartosz used the second project week to travel independently in Rajasthan and also explored other areas of northern
India at the end of this first year.
On his plans for the future, Bartosz is sure he will continue to incorporate volunteering into his schedule. He plans to volunteer for afew months after graduating and then study biology and psychology in the US, finding local organisations there to get involved with.“UWC Mahindra College has been changing me from the very beginning. I am still realising how important it is to develop understanding between people from different countries. The college offers me a chance to learn how to do it practically and be a real agent of change. The most important part of the education is that nobody imposes on me what I have to think but rather how to think. Thanks to that I think I am developing a better understanding of the world and can really make a change at least in my local surroundings,” concludes Bartosz.