The time spent at UWC-USA provides a picture of how life might be later on.
Thoughts on the ultimate question of coming to UWC
To get into a UWC is the ultimate dream of so many people, the non-plus-ultra. It is as if they think UWC will change their life forever and the only thing that matters is to get in. At least I was like this. My dream was to explore the world, to get out of my every-day life and the “rich-white-kid” place I upheld. I would have considered myself as an everyday normal guy, no one special. But in some areas I had the desire to be outstanding. So, when I found out about the UWC movement, I was stunned, but also skeptical. The first thing that I read about it was the mission statement, and I thought that it was too good to be true. However, to be honest I did not quite get what the whole UWC movement was about until I understood what the movement aimed to do. Yet, I did not immediately apply to UWC. Rather, I decided to wait for one year and subsequently applied and got in. And here I am, at the place where many wish to be at. That is why this question in my mind always spooks me: what is the overall purpose of being here?
Coming from Germany, a very privileged and rich country, I never had to face any harsh problems, aside from some banal disputes with my parents. Therefore, in this matter, UWC did not change anything: I was safe in my country because it is politically stable and there was nothing that I had to worry about. As for other people, UWC did change their life drastically. There are stories about people witnessing serious crimes, sometimes not only once, but every day. There are stories about people that were harassed, people who had to live on the street, and many other equally unsettling stories. Thus, it is the mix of all these different people coming to these schools that makes up the diversity that is so celebrated. But the question still exists; what am I doing here?
Since many different expectations exist when coming to UWC, there is always the other side of the challenge that everybody has to face, and which is revealed in the fact that UWC is, above anything, a school. Once, I was lying in my bed, having these famous thoughts before falling asleep. I thought about people who would like to be in my place right now and I questioned why I was lying there as opposed to somebody else, maybe somebody for whom UWC would have make a huge difference. But then, ultimately, another question came up: why would someone like to be in my place right now? I have a lot of pressure to get stuff done on time, I have to study for tests, and I am overcome with sleep deprivation. But then I said to myself: “Get up, stop whining!” And consequently, I realize that there is a purpose to why I am here, that my National Committee saw potential in me which gave them the incentive of selecting me. When I have these thoughts, I realize that I can endure the somewhat stressful life of a UWC student. I also realize at moments that this experience is special.
How does UWC affect me personally? I think that this question will never vanish, and I think that I am not the only one who is asking this question to himself. I found a simple answer to that: it is about getting confronted with these such questions, to be challenged with the purpose of being at this place and to deal with such a high ideology that is attempted to be established. There are always points at which I realize that this is something that UWC is about: to confront yourself, and to therefore contribute with innovative ideas to the essential ongoing of the UWC-movement. Personally, the time spent at UWC-USA provides a picture of how life might be later on: ideological, but imperfect. And this is something good for all the people coming to one of the UWCs: to get their first confrontation of how such a place surrounded by myths actually is. And then people might even realize the beauty of that place; that even though expectations are not met, they are eventually fulfilled in a more sophisticated way. Imperfection is what life makes beautiful.