While the Zeroyears were introduced to UWC in general and had divers preparation sessions on Friday morning, we Firstyears did something very similar together in a separate room.
First, we drew diagrams of how we felt during our year in a UWC. Most of the diagrams looked very similar: during the summer, most people felt increasingly positive and kept the graph increasing in their first weeks of UWC, too. Then, when school started, many had a little emotional “down”, but were still very happy and content. When report cards came and the winter holidays started, the graph of many of us suddenly decreased – similar to the time before and during the IB exams, and while the last weeks were often showing a significantly high graph, such collapsed in the last days before the summer holidays. We all explained this with the departure of all our friends for the summer and the farewells with our Secondyears, of whom we would not see many soon or ever again.
We also posted notes to the wall on which we wrote what was good about our first year in UWC and what was not that good; what we had learned and managed to do, and what we would still like the change; what made us happy and what disappointed us. On the good side the many project weeks and trips, the environment and UWC atmosphere were named, but also new friendships, the variety of the CAS program, the first time after the arrival and the many discussion and long talks were mentioned. On the other side the stress with the IB, language difficulties and lacking environmental awareness among most of the other students were criticized.
When we finished our discussion session and left for lunch snacks, the Zeroyears had hung up a gigantic poster on which they wrote down all their worries and hopes for their time at UWC. They looked forward to interesting talks and discussions, amazing trips, the international environment and amazing people from all over the world. However they worried about the climate conditions, being homesick, not being able to deal with the IB and not finding friends. On a poster next to theirs, we Firstyears could comment on their short messages. “Don’t worry too much about Academics, no German ever failed the IB”, somebody wrote, another Firstyear scribbled something about “taking suncream and drinking a lot”, as one of the Zeroyears worried about temperatures around 40°C in his UWC’s country.
My Co-Year and me advised to blog or to write a diary: “Write down all your experiences, take pictures, hold on to your time. The two years pass by so fast! Reflect!” We also wrote about friendships at home, testing your own boundaries and being aware of all the wonderful opportunities that a UWC offers. After this, we met individually with the Firstyears to talk to them about their personal worries and ideas. By the way, I forgot to mention, that two Firstyears from Mostar had come to the meeting, too! Naga from Israel only stayed for one day, but Ali from Pakistan, who’s Thirdyear Taha had visited LPC earlier and who’s Co-Year Rohma lives in Block 3 with me, stayed for the whole weekend and we became good friends! :)
The afternoon ended with individual small groups exploring the fields around Fronhausen and the small town itself, while others continued playing basketball, took a nap or continued to listen to and tell stories about the UWC experience. The evening finished once again with a lovely campfire where everybody sat together and talked. I think, these many talks and endless discussions were really the core of the 0-1st-Year-Meeting and even if I can’t recall every single story and conversation I feel very relieved now. It feels like as if so many stories have gathered in our heads during the whole year – despite the fact that I personally write most of them down in my blog, so that others can read them – and that now this was the one big event where we could just let go of all of them, reflecting on them together with others, becoming feedback, passing ideas on to our Zeroyears etc. It was basically a weekend full of storytelling – and it was wonderful! I learned a lot from the others and remembered how I had been, when I was at the 0-1st-Year-Meeting last year myself. I must say, I developed a lot since then… :)