Maytik Avirama Pabon
Almost every day I find out something new about someone, about the versatile nature of human beings
What were your first impressions upon arriving at Li Po Chun UWC?
When I had just arrived to Li Po Chun UWC, I couldn’t speak English or Cantonese and for that reason everything was very confusing and difficult to understand. At the beginning I felt lost and curious; lost in the middle of people with multiple nationalities and languages, curious about them in the way that my new condition of permanent listener helped me to appreciate the diversity of body language that was on display to me. During the first months I couldn’t express myself properly and I felt quite frustrated but at the same time I did not have that much time to think about it because the amount of interesting activities, projects and individuals in the school was huge and diverse.
How did you find out about UWC and why did you apply?
I found out about UWC through an alumnus. I was in Peru, travelling with my family, and my uncle’s colleague met me and talked to me about the UWC movement. When I came back to Colombia I searched for information about the movement and I really liked the UWC ethos. I decided to apply because I thought that it would be the best place to learn and share. Having contact with different cultures inside my country made me realise the amount of hidden knowledge there is inside a culture and I wanted to share the one that I had access to and find out about other people’s realities. On the other hand, I applied to UWC because I believe in the capacity of this place to build a better world. The idea of creating a mini-world with 250 young people that believe in something quite abstract like “international understanding” sounds like a utopian experiment, but I believe that this experience turns us into potential seeds of change.
What do you enjoy most about life at UWC?
I enjoy my friends, and the hope that we share, because sometimes the projects that we have here are more symbolic than immediately effective, but the important thing is that we learn new skills that will help us to implement them on a bigger scale in the future. I really enjoy the capacity to be surprised in this place. Almost every day I find out something new about someone, about the versatile nature of human beings.
What’s been the hardest or most challenging?
Sometimes it has been hard to understand and accept that not everyone has the same idea about how we should face the UWC experience. In this sense it has been interesting learning to approach others’ points while accepting their conflictive nature rather than avoiding it in the way that sometimes the dialogue will not have a resolution.
What other activities are you involved in?
One activity that has really challenged my world-view is Traffik Link. It is a group that tries to help in the fight against human trafficking. We have been attempting to both raise awareness and money to support different anti traffiking NGOs in South East Asia. It is most likely that I will be part of a project week to Cambodia that links to this service working with the reintegration of the trafficked victims to the society.
What are your ambitions after you leave UWC?
Before coming to Li Po Chun UWC I wanted to study medicine. Just recently I changed my mind because I realized that humanities are a very important aspect of my life. For that reason I want to study Biology and Anthropology. I believe that the combination between sciences and humanities can be very purposeful and I find it inspiring. I want to return to my country and work on animal preservation and the integration of human communities and the environment.
I would also like to emphasize that I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect profile of a UWC student. UWC attempts to bring the world together through the acceptance of the world as it is. I don’t think that someone is born as a UWC student; a UWC individual is built. The most important thing for me is the authenticity, the curiosity, the energy and the patience to face the experience. It has been important to believe in the movement, to enjoy the time here, to be able to share and to listen. I see the UWC movement as a body that is kept alive by its cells. Each cell works in different areas, and all have different functions but each activity is essential to the function of the body
8 February 2011