UWC Mahindra College monthly newsletter

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Reflections from visiting UWCSEA students

Guiding questions:

How did you find out about UWC?
How did you apply?
How was the feeling of getting accepted?
Why did you decide to come to India for project week?
How did UWC change your life?
What are the differences between UWCSEA and UWC Mahindra College?
Relate your experiences in Project Week and how do you feel about it?


I first heard about UWC through the Internet while looking for job opportunities. I applied because I fell in love with the UWC values. I still think that it is a dream, to get accepted in a UWC college. Project Week is a very important aspect of UWC life, and it would be even better if we could take part in an action part of a UWC college such as the Akshara Foundation during Project Week. UWC is still changing my life. It makes me realize that things are possible, and that we can make a difference. It is just like coming out into the light after spending a long time in a dark room. People are amazing. UWCSEA and UWC Mahindra College are different in many aspects such as localization, facilities, and number of people. This campus is just unbelievable. The views, India is unique, people here are just so nice and friendly. But actually, both our colleges are UWC colleges. Both of them have this feeling of union between such different cultures that makes me believe even more that we can do big things together. What I saw this week, and what I have experienced, is something that I did not believe could be possible. With the support and help of our friend Rahul, we actually did things that may not last forever but it is something; it will help in some way and nothing would change if nobody does anything. People in the villages are so strong and so nice to us. The children at the schools that we have visited and played with are so smart and so independent. I just wish more people could know more about the situation of people there – something I had never seen in my life, about the Akshara Foundation and the amazing job they do. And how UWC is once more making things that seems impossible come true. I love UWC.


I knew about UWC when a UWCSEA graduate from my city came to my school and gave us a talk about UWCSEA and how it is such an amazing school, and since then I just decided to apply even though I had to wait for 2 years since I was not old enough yet to apply. After waiting for 2 years, I was finally able to apply through the National Committee selection process. At that time I did not expect to get accepted at all because I just wanted to gain more experience through applying to UWC, but deep inside there was a big hope in my heart that I would be accepted in this amazing college. Fortunately, I was accepted and finally my dream to go abroad to study was achieved. I always had motivation to study abroad, because my mom went to Canada when she was in college for a student exchange program, and that made me want to go abroad to study too. There are absolutely no words to describe how I felt when I got accepted; it was just so many feelings of pride, happiness and amazement at the same time, because getting accepted in this college was one of my biggest dreams that I started having since I was very little. Being the only person representing my region in Indonesia to go to UWCSEA made me feel very responsible, and since I got accepted, I always try to share the UWC values when I go back to my hometown and also at school through some activities. Project Week is one of the most amazing things offered by UWC colleges, in order for students to gain more knowledge and experiences. Project Week is probably one of the most awesome activities that UWC created, which allows the students to arrange their own travel and be independent.

After realizing that we have friends that came from Akshara Foundation in UWCSEA, and that we had heard quite a lot of amazing stories from them about Akshara, we decided to come here to do our Project Week and, at the same time, visit another UWC college. UWC has taught me a lot of things such as how to be respectful towards the others even though you come from different backgrounds, how to think critically, and how to become more aware of the world. UWCSEA and UWC Mahindra College both have UWC values that are amazing, both have amazing people in them; people that support the values, even though both have also quite a few differences, such as the location and also the way of studying.

UWC has changed my perspective in looking at the world, it has opened my eyes and mind more, and it has made me a more open person. Being in UWC Mahindra College and working with Akshara has given me one of the best experiences in my life that I will never forget. This project brought me to a place that I have never visited before, it increased my awareness and also gave me more idea about the world around me. In this project we all worked as a team to help make a difference for people, and we have had a lot of fun doing our work in the villages, with our team and also the Akshara Foundation team, Rahul, Asmita and the rests.


Some years ago I was talking with my sister’s friend about the world, cultures and societies. She told me about a number of colleges dispersed throughout the world which were as interested in the same things as we were. One day she told me to participate in the selection process to try to get in one of those colleges because they offered scholarships to many countries, including mine, Uruguay. At that time I felt too young to leave my county alone, therefore, I decided to wait for some years to apply. I applied in 2011. The selection process took more that one month. Finally, I won a scholarship. They selected me to go to study at  UWCSEA, in Singapore. I really could not imagine how much my life would change from that moment to now.

My first emotion was happiness because I knew that if I wanted to know about the world and inform the world about my country, this was one of the best ways to do it. After that, when I could start thinking in more detail I realized that it was a large responsibility to represent my country. To show who are Uruguayan people made me feel anxious and nervous, because I knew that many people who were looking for the same experience could also do this well. Therefore I had to be good or even better.

We were looking for a Project Week that would make us feel that we are changing something, make something improve, at the same time a learning experience. We remembered that two girls in our school come from an organization in India, which helps people in villages get a better standard of living. They helped them by providing education and sanitation and discussing values with them. We decided to come here because we saw it as being an experience where we had the opportunity to share our knowledge and also help out with other problems in the villages. Those were our principal objectives.

I think that the main differences between the Indian college and UWCSEA is the physical structure and the location. UWCSEA is in the middle of a city and UWC Mahindra College in the middle of nowhere. In one college it is possible to see amazing views, surrounded by nature. In the other it is a beautiful experience to go walk around Singapore, learning from the four different cultures, which make up the country's main population. On campus, it is similar. As we are both UWCs we have the same objectives and values. We see people socializing, sharing cultures, organizing events, helping each other, working together and discussing about world problems in both UWCs. Those characteristics are the ones which make this organization different from other internationals schools, and they happen as much in UWC Mahindra College as in UWCSEA. Both schools have the same passion and maintain an international community that shares knowledge and ideals. I really love it.

This Project week made me see the world from a different point of view. I never imagined how life in an Indian village is. To see how they live made me realize that not having much means it is still possible to be as happy, or even more, than those who think that money is all.The best experiences that I have ever had were at the primary school we visited during the week. To see children having the key to their own classroom, going to the school without losing their smile and happiness. I am really fascinated with their attitude to understand five new people who came speaking a new language with them. It was an amazing experience to see how they wanted to learn what we tried to teach them. Also their need to show us their own culture, singing national songs, games, teaching some Marathi to us. It made me see that they love their own country as much as I love mine.


It was 2 years' ago when I was living in an environment of drugs and poverty in one of the most dangerous slums in my country. During that time I always had a strong motivation to become an agent of change. So I devoted my time to organizing activities and conferences for my city’s youth, and then a guy who knew me told me about this incredible global movement called UWC. When I heard about it I didn't want to apply because at that time it was totally unknown to me. Therefore I took an entire year to research and get to know more about UWC and the more I knew, the more I identified with the movement and its ideology of improvement and change through education and cultural diversity. I applied to UWC the following year and got accepted. I could not believe it when the National Committee came to my house to give me the news. However more than feeling excited and happy, there was a strong feeling of fear because I knew from the beginning that once given a place, my life would undergo a huge change. Nevertheless, I realized that this would be the beginning of my journey to become an agent of change in the future.

I have been in UWC for 8 months and my life continues to change dramatically each day. UWC is making me more realistic and determined when it comes to making decisions and actions. I realize that to be able to achieve goals it is necessary to have a good plan. This is something that I learnt in my Project Week, when I came with friends with the idea of supporting and contributing to initiatives such as the Akshara Foundation which I feel so proud of. This Project Week was based in UWC Mahindra College which was amazing because that also meant we had the opportunity to share UWC values with other UWC students. Being here during my Project Week made me realize that there is a lot of differences between the two schools. It was amazing for me to discover these differences, for example how the location can affect the style of the college in many ways or also differences in economical conditions and the way of teaching. However the most amazing thing is that despite the many differences, both UWCs follow the same ideology though it is developed in different ways. This Project Week has helped me view the world from a new perspective, become more aware of how different the ways of living can be. And I can definitely say that this experience was a unique lesson that has contributed to my journey of becoming the agent of change.


I was just a normal student in a high school at the beginning of 2011. I was active in a lot of different things and was considered a good student, but I did not have any specific goal. I only knew that I wanted to do something good for society. A senior in my high school, who is now a second year in Pearson UWC in Canada, told me about UWC. I did some research about the school since my teacher also recommended the scholarship to me. By doing research I realized that it is such a good place for me and helps me to understand what I can do in the future for the good of the people. I applied and got accepted to UWCSEA. Since then, I have matured a lot and I believe I will grow even more in my 2 years in UWC.

I am always curious about how different UWCs are like and how we uphold the UWC values, which is why I plan to visit as many UWCs as possible in my two years of IB. As I heard from Kanchan and Vydia about the Akshara Foundation and UWC Mahindra College, I was very excited to come to to India for my Project Week. I was also excited because it would be the first time for me to come to India, a place that I have always wanted to visit. One fortunate thing after another and I am here without much trouble with my four friends who are also UWC students.

Being in UWC Mahindra College made me realize how different our colleges are, though I do not really enjoy comparing them since they are both very awesome in their own ways. While UWCSEA is located in a very modern country where you can get a lot of things very easily, MUWCI has this very peaceful and environmentally friendly style that makes people fall in love with the campus. I love the scenery of the campus very much and also how nice people here can be, yet I also love very dearly how convenient, busy and crowded UWCSEA campus can be. To me, seeing another UWC just makes me love the UWC movement more because I realize that each one is unique and cannot be replaced.

This Project Week experience is a very good and special one for me. In this one week, I have done things that I would never have imagined myself doing and I enjoyed it very much. Collecting plastic, making water channels, playing with school kids etc were all very fun to do and rewarding when looking back. I got to see people in an environment that I never saw in real life. It made me appreciate my life more and be more motivated to make a contribution to the society in the future.

UWCSEA students on Project Week on the MUWCI campus

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