Here comes another UWC student portrait, and it is my first time to have talked to a future student! Angelos Angelidis (16) is just about to finish 10th grade in his high-school in Greece and will be one of two Greek students to visit a UWC next year. His destination: Hong Kong! I skyped with him the other day and he told me about his path towards LPCUWC, his expectations and aspirations for the future.
Finding out about UWC from family friends in eighth grade, I applied to UWC because I wanted something different, something that wasn’t ordinary. My aunt has a friend who’s daughter had been to the UWC Maastricht. That girl told me all about her time in the Netherlands and what an exciting experience it was, getting me very enthusiastic about the movement and the idea behind it. She told me: “If you have the guts and believe that you deserve the spot, go for it. You have nothing to loose and the experience you might gain there will stick with you for a life time”. In some way, she inspired me to apply to UWC. My main objective was to become friends with teenagers from all over the world. In Greece, we don’t have this sense of internationalism at our schools and generally our society is not as multicultural as others. Yet alone the educational system, the IB, is much more advanced than here in Greece so I was overall attracted to the whole experience UWC offered me. From the very start, I didn’t care which college I would be sent to, if I was selected. I just wanted to be a UWC student, that’s all.
For the generation 2013-15, only twenty students had applied from all over Greece, and there is only one scholarship for Greek students. At the interview process they had asked us how we would represent Greece if other students asked us about our country’s economic situation. I personally think such is mainly a result of the political crisis we have in Greece. The main problem is that our politicians don’t really care about the people of Greece, but only about themselves. They are manipulating others so that they can gain money and this corruption has greatly contributed to the economic crisis in Greece. The committee also asked what things I would take with me to UWC in order to represent my country. I will bring many pictures of the natural beauty of Greece, and a book with the poems of my favorite Greek poet. However, when I got out of the interview I was so nervous that I forgot all other questions they had asked me and I just went to wait for the decision.
After the single scholarship had been given to a girl for Red Cross Nordic, I got into the clearing process together with four other girls. This was like a waiting list, where we were the final candidates in case the girl would not accept the scholarship and there had to be a new student. While on this waiting list, I already started to plan a second application for the next year, preparing for the interviews and writing new essays. I wanted to go to UWC so eagerly that I thought: “Why not try again and maybe you will be lucky”. And after all, I didn’t expect any positive results from the clearing process. But one day, I got a phone call and our national committee said that they could give a second scholarship and with such I would be able to go to Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong. I could not believe it.
Hearing of this decision, I spent all day thinking about LPC and imagined, how life would be there. I wondered about the sports for example. I do Karate and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to continue it in Hong Kong. But now I know that even if some sports are not offered, I can use my talent and knowledge and open groups to teach it to the other students. That sounds very exciting and I might do that, if I’m not too shy. But I also want to explore other activities and new sports, too. Since I am involved in running and marathons, I am for example very enthusiastic to join the organizational team of the 24-Hour-Race. I was also considering taking part in Coral Monitoring, English Debate and the Anti-Trafficking Group. I came to the conclusion that there is an abundance of activities in school I want to join and that I’ll have to organize my time very, very well. I really hope to contribute to the community with my creativity. On Facebook I am already in contact with some of my co-years and we are planning to make more promotional videos for the college, so that in countries like Greece more students learn about UWC. I’d also like to get involved in UWC TV because I think that is great for prospective students, as they can see what life at a UWC is really like.
When I think about UWC, I cannot say what I look forward to most. What I worry about a little is that I will not get along with some of the students and won’t be able to cope with the schedule. It’s a bit frightening. What if I fight with my roommate?! Though I have been outside of Greece before – I visited Venice and Germany – this time it will be different; I’ll be at the other side of the world, all on my own. Still, of course I also look forward to it. I even think that through UWC I will become a better person. I will be far from my family and learn to appreciate the things I have at home; I will become more open and tolerant and it will also broaden my academic horizons, through Theory Of Knowledge, for example.
I hope to become inspired by the LPC community. I admire its passion for changing the world. In Greece there is no passion for education anymore, since even students who graduate from university often don’t find a job afterwards. Career prospects in Greece are almost non existent by now and we have one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe. The trust in education has vanished with the economic crisis, young people are disillusioned. Their lives have become much harder, they think about themselves first. No matter how excited I am about experiencing a new atmosphere, I think that the one home makes me who I truly am, helps me to overcome other difficulties, and lets me become stronger. After all, my aspirations to look for something better root in this social background of mine. For me, education is what shapes people’s character and personality. Many believe that there is no ideal educational system. But I am certain that there is! I don’t mean the International Baccalaureate, but the UWC movement as whole, since it combines education with a deeper understanding of the world. Getting people to understand global issues such as poverty, war, social discrimination and environmental degradation at such a young age is not easy. But UWC manages to do so in only two years of experience. I find that very fascinating.
After UWC I want to study maybe in Scotland, get a good job and of course visit Greece to spend my holidays with friends and family whenever I can. What I want to work as in the future doesn’t have to do with politics or economics, so I’m not sure if it makes sense to go back to Greece since I won’t be able to help fixing the country’s situation. I want to study Biology and specialize in something about the environment, later on working to help our planet. We have way overloaded it and exploited all the earth’s resources. I would like to convince the world to be more eco-friendly. This is also, why I’m very excited that LPC offers Environmental Systems and Societies as a subject. In Greece there is no subject that focuses on environmental issues, so this would be very new, special but also perfect for me and my interests. I think it’s important that we preserve that natural habitat of our planet for the next generation. A guy who won the nobel prize for peace once said: “We are the first generation who has to decide through our ethic decisions, if we also want to be the last generation.” I think that is very true, and that’s where I want to contribute.
I am really looking forward to studying at LPC. I think these are going to be the best two years of my life, with life time memories to keep inside me forever. But from all what I mentioned – careers prospects, open doors to the world and a great educational system -, what really counts for me is that I will meet and make friends with inspiring young people from all over the world. I believe the international atmosphere at UWC cultivates a very multicultural character in each and every student, supporting the creation of a sustainable and peaceful future for our world. I want to be part of that. It is as Ghandi said: “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”
Photo: Angelos (center) in a school play he participated in this year.