It is time for my, yes, last blog entry as hongkongcitygirl. The last weekend was incredibily exciting; I was in Düsseldorf in West-Germany, where my German co-years from all UWCs and I celebrated our graduation together with our parents and the German national committee, and I also took part at my first ever German UWC network meeting there. It was great, to see my co-year Michael again, though we only separated one and a half months ago, but it was even better to hear the stories of all my other co-years, some of which I last met two years ago at the German Zero-Firstyear-Meeting 2011. Though of course all our experiences had been different, we found many common aspects of our UWC lives, common stories and happenings, common opinions. We had lively discussions about the different attitudes towards rules, the UWC values and current issues at all UWCs. Since we had alumni with us, who had graduated five, fifteen or even twenty years ago, it was fascinating to listen to their opinions and memories on the topics, too.
At our graduation ceremony we heard, of course, many speeches and talks by representatives of the national committee and alumni. My Secondyear Basti from Swaziland and my Co-Year Lena, who had visited the UWC in Costa Rica, held a speech together, representing all our year group. Of course it had been hard to try to align all our different impressions and experiences into one, limited speech, as they said themselves: “UWC has been lived and felt in so many different ways by all students that we cannot describe the last two years UWC on behalf of our entire year. No single minute UWC can be summed up in a single speech.” But they did quite a good job nonetheless. Basti explained for example how there are not only language barriers, but particularily humor barriers to overstep in the UWC community: “I don’t know about your experiences in this issue, but European or even German humor is just not as well received in the far reaches of the world. I admit that the two barriers are, of course closely together. When one leaves his native language, purely to communicate in a second language, the usual way of making jokes is lacking. In general, the own culture of conversation goes lost for a while. The own personality, thoughts and opinions that one would love to express can simply not be formulated properly. Let alone in a funny way.“
When walking to the front, and receiving a book and (handwritten!) letter from the National Committee, each of us graduates had to hold a small speech and say a few words about our UWC experience. I thanked the National Committee for the “beautiful time, the great opportunity and especially my co-year Michael. I think we were a perfect team and I believe we represented Germany very well – him, the dedicated palatine and me, the girl from Dräsdn” (which is how you pronounce “Dresden” in my regional dialect ;) .
The rest of the weekend was filled with open discussions, presentations and of course private talks between the Alumni and National Comittee at the UWC Network Meeting. We discussed for example, how to raise awareness about UWC in Germany. The plan is, after all, to gain no less then 400 applicants for the currently running selection process which will end on the 25th December of this year! A big challenge for the German UWC Organisation. The background lies in the opening of the Robert-Bosch-College in Freiburg next year. 25% of the college’s students have to be German, so there will be no longer 20 but 50 German scholarships. However, the German National Committee would like to keep their standard of 10 applications for one place at a UWC – so we need at least twice as many applicants. The application documents for German applicants went online just recently so don’t hesistate and make your dream come true!
I have been asked by many what my plans are now, that the IB and my two years at the Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong have passed. I am very glad to announce that I was accepted to what has been my dream university since they first presented themselves in Hong Kong: The Sciences Po in France. As you will read all around the internet, “established in 1872 as the École Libre des Sciences Politiques, Sciences Po has traditionally educated France’s political and diplomatic elite, and it is generally thought of to be one of the world’s most reputable and prestigious schools of the social sciences”. 40% of the students have an international background, coming from more than sixty countries of the world. During the undergraduate programm, the third year is spend abroad at one of 400 partner universities or in an internship outside of France. Most students move to the Paris campus for their graduate studies. I myself will study for my Bachelor in Nancy – at one of the six undergraduate campuses which are scattered around France and each of an individual academic und cultural/regional focus. I’ll be part of the trilingual programm in Nancy, which has a Franco-German focus and is taught in German, French and English. The lectures will cover topics in political science, economics, history, law and sociology and languages. To study so various topics in three langues will be challenging, but it alread excites me a lot!
So, this is it. This is the outlook to my future, the very likely end to this blog. It’s a “happy end” to something that felt like a fairytale and was yet real all the way. I want to thank my loyal readers for having followed and often supported me from beginning to end. Over 70’800 times my blog has been read, by people from over 135 countries (see the map). I would have never thought or dreamed that my voice could be carried into the world in such a dimension, but I guess UWC is simply a topic that attracts others, provokes curiosity and incites fascination. And I hope that over the course of my two years at LPCUWC you fell in love with this movement just as much as I did. Thank you very much.
I want to end with a quotation by Nelson Mandela, the honorary president of UWC. At the very moment, this great man is struggling with death, but today is his 95. birthday. On the UWC Homepage it says: “Nelson Mandela has a long and personal connection with the UWC movement since his children and grandchildren attended Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa. Through his life-long defence of freedom and justice, Nelson Mandela encapsulates many of the ideals which UWC strives to achieve and provides great inspiration for students and alumni.” There are many wise, inspiring and compelling words by this man, but this is one of my personal favorites. Simple, powerful, UWC:
“Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor; that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine; that the child of farm workers can become the President of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”