My Life at Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong 2011-2013

A Vehicle for Change

UWCMotL Logo 13Last term at LPC I had the great honor to write a two-page article for the Jewish Times Asia, about the UWC March of the Living. That is a trip that had been organized this year for the first time and linked the already existing March of the Living (MotL) with UWC.  The MotL is an annual educational initiative that brings people and especially students from all over the world together “in order to study the history of the Holocaust and to examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hate”. Since the first March of the Living in 1988, over 150,000 people from all around the world have marched down the same path leading from Auschwitz to Birkenau. Hayley, my Head of House, who also organized the UWCMotL, believed that the purpose and idea of the March fitted very well with the UWC mission, experience and values and so she tried to organize a link between the two – and succeeded.

The goal was to bring UWC students to the MotL and from the very start, funding was the biggest issue, especially as the majority of UWC students attend the schools on full or partial scholarships. Fortunately, Dr Rosenman, chair of March of the Living International, was ready to co-sponsor twenty students for all their expenses for their trip, except their flights, which he then increased to twenty-five, because of the overwhelming interest in the project. Due to this support, eventually eight United World Colleges could be represented at the March. Over ninety students applied in total and twenty-five of them were finally chosen, coming from twenty-two different countries and speaking no less than twenty-eight languages. At the March, they were the most diverse group participating. Cengiz, a Turkish student attending from LPC, agreed that this diversity of backgrounds heavily contributed to the atmosphere of the March: “We had many students from past or current conflict regions, who could tell us for example about the Rwandan, Bosnian and Armenian genocides. Hence we could see that even though these atrocities happened some time ago, and we learned some lessons, we haven’t yet learnt them fully.”

You can read the whole article in the online version of this issue of Jewish Times Asia. There you will also learn, what the whole trip consisted of for the UWC students and what their impressions of the whole experience were.

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.aneglos

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. 

My series of UWC student portraits continues. All of them can be found collectively here, but will still be primarily published on this blog. Enjoy!

2012 Bita graduated from LPCUWC, where she had been finally able to develop her passion for art. Already a year ago, a photograph from her Theatre Project “Skin And Bones” was displayed at Times Square. She now looks forward to interning in New York City for her fall semester. Bita told me about her path into the arts and her personal progress after leaving the “oppressive government” of Iran behind. Screen Shot 2013-06-02 at 09.12.55

Before coming to Li Po Chun United World College, I did have private lessons by independent artists. Out of personal interest, I had visited a few workshops or done visual art on my own – but I was never effectively taught. Even when coming to Hong Kong the arts originally took a secondary, even non-existent role in my curriculum. I had skipped two years of high school, so I started the IB when I was only fifteen years old. Back in my old school, I had been very good at Math and Physics, but when I came to Hong Kong, taking those subjects among so much older and more advanced students was very challenging. I often cried when leaving the classes and was generally in a very desperate state, yet it didn’t appear to me that the solution might lay in changing subjects.

However, I was very lucky to have an incredibly loving and understanding roommate, Jay Bell, who helped me to create and develop the new, real me. Taking double-arts herself, and seeing how much I struggled, she inspired me to follow my dream of becoming a dancer and choreographer. She motivated and supported me in my decision to try and switch to IB Theatre and Visual Arts, so that is what I did. And it turned out to be wonderful. For Visual Arts for example, I had not been aware that I was to choose my own theme and do whatever I wanted to. I thought I was going to take art classes; maybe one day we would learn how to paint, one day how to draw. That was after all how it had been at home, they had never left you space to explore, at least not in high school. But this approach to the arts was very new new to me – one could even say, shocking. And yet, it was only through this manner of learning, that my self could fully develop and grow into the arts. What makes art so special and dear to me? Its purity. With art I am able to look into the deepest of my sole and vomit out my anguish. It is not easy to lie with art, because self expression has its own truth – unlike doing business or politics for example! The process of creation is part of who I am: I am a creative human being, I create. Therefore, I can never live without doing so. Andrew Asnes once said: “Dancing allows me to explore myself in so many ways, to learn about my limitations and strengths, my ability to cope with adversity and to go farther than I thought I could. You find out what you’re made of.” I could not agree more.

Studying the International Baccalaureate overall had a huge influence on me. The IB has a very comprehensive approach to learning: You are supposed to understand, evaluate and analyze, always with a critical eye – while in schools back home in Iran you are just asked to read and memorize. That was an important difference, because if you only memorize, you forget the next day, but if you understand, know and learn, then you won’t forget. Just as the Chinese Proverb says: “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” This was also the reason why I eventually applied to UWC. I simply wanted a better education. First I found out about IB, and later stumbled over UWC. From the very start it was very fascinating to see that such schools exist; bringing people from all around the world together to study. It was so ideal that my mother and I first thought this might not be real, but some company that steals money. We had to do a lot of research to find out that it’s a real institution, and little could I know how much it would change my life.

When coming to LPC in my first year, it was very terrible to perceive how hard it was for me to express myself. I was finally in a school where I could say my opinion on all matters, even outside of classroom discussions, and I had all this freedom – but it was terrible to feel that I was simply not able to embrace it. That was definitely something I wanted to explore from the very beginning: On one side how the youth in Iran faces this lack of expression because of the oppressive government and conservative society, and on the other side the progress that I had made myself and the affect that newly gained freedom of speech and expression had on me. This progress was nothing I was constantly aware of, since I was in it myself, but at some point I just realized how far I had come overall. That is what I wanted to look into more, and choosing my own theme in IB Visual Arts allowed me to do so. After my TOK class for example, where I had the freedom to speak out and yet felt isolated and confused because I couldn’t express myself, I created the art piece where I have words written all over my face. I think it was without doubt the whole environment at a UWC, the community conjoined with the IB, that lead me through the progress I made.

In my second year, I choreographed and directed my own Independent Project for Theatre: “Skin and Bones”, a dance performance based on my life experience and personal background in Iran. Dance had always been a big passion of mine, but I could never really pursue it since I was born in a country where dance is effectively banned. Living in Iran, where freedom is oppressed, has empowered me to search for my voice in dance – and to find it there. You can always dance, even if it’s only in your heart. “Skin and Bones” had a huge influence on me. The reactions I got from the audience were beyond what I had expected and I realized: Without any background, this was what I had created, and those were the reactions I got! It was overwhelming. And I decided, that I was definitely going to go ahead and pursue this passion. When starting my university research, I kept my eyes open for dance programs at the universities. I had always aimed at a liberal arts college, because I didn’t want to be too narrow-minded yet, but wanted to explore different courses and kinds of art. In the end I was even accepted to the universities I wanted to go to, but due to financial issues I didn’t land in any of my first choices.

Instead, I ended up at Earlham College. There is no dance program here. In my freshman year I took art and theatre classes, but they don’t really interest me. So I think now I am going to move towards Peace and Global Studies with the focus on praxis, which means social movement and community building. And I realized, that those aspects are exactly where art can get involved and what art can do: Build and support communities, develop social activity. I may take it as my major; I think I need the knowledge. Art can be created for two purposes: Either art for the sole sake of it, or art for change and conveying a message. I’ve always wanted to do the later. I never wanted to be just an artist, I wanted to be an activist artist. So I will need to know more about international relations and politics to improve the message and meaning of my art. This desire to be involved in activism through my art has definitely been shaped by UWC. After all, at LPC we were always critical, always discussed everything and never did something just for the sake of it, but always had a larger idea behind. This defined and developed my own mindset a lot.

When looking into the future I see many, many plans laying ready for me to grasp and follow. One of my biggest dreams is to have my own dance company, but I have in mind to bring all forms of art – dance, film, lightning, costume design, poetry etc. – into the performances of this dance company. Further, art is perfect to explore social and political issues. It can for example explore the Mohammad cartoons and examine them in a critical way, or just generally asses for example the role of riots when it comes to the individual desire for freedom. I am also thinking about another project, “Voices for Iranians”. “A Separation” for example was the first Iranian movie that won a Foreign Language Oscar nomination and its director said: “I love making film in Iran, and I would never decide to do that somewhere else.” Lately I have been looking up a lot of Iranian artists who work are still in Iran and work there. I also really want to go back and make a difference there, because I think it is not fair for me as Iranian to leave my country and not give back to home. For the nearer future, I am considering a Master’s Degree in Dance or Art Education, so that I can then go and work as a UWC teacher myself. After all, I feel like I have to give back to the community at some point, because it has given me so much. I believe that UWC teachers themselves are very activist; they go on Project Weeks, help in the CAS initiatives, and effectively give their idealism and enthusiasm for activism and change on to the students.

Indeed, what I personally appreciated most while I was still at UWC, were the teachers. Practically growing up without a father, my teachers became huge characters in my life – father figures, in a way. Whenever I would become homesick or upset, I could just visit them and talk, till midnight. I always felt very welcomed and that is something I will never forget; what they were to me. I will always remember the moment after the first dress rehearsal of “Skin and Bones”, when our teacher was supposed to give us feedback and we were sitting in a line at the edge of the stage, looking at him and waiting for some response. He just repeatedly shook his head and look down to the floor, looked back at us and didn’t say a word. We started giggling, because we didn’t know if it had been that good or that bad, and that is when his chin started trembling. He was choked, and he only said: “I thought it was brilliant” – and then he just started crying. It was very moving and touching for me. As a teacher, he was effectively, as I was used to it from back home, an authority figure for me. Seeing him open up and show his feelings to me, was just incredible. He was one of the few people who always told me: “It’s never too late, you can always do whatever you want. Just believe in yourself.”

Photo: Extract of one of Bita’s pieces for IB Visual Arts; the mentioned self-portrait. Originally called “In my face”, she later re-named it “Confusion”.

This is not the End

I am now home. I spent my whole morning and early afternoon in our kitchen, drinking the green tea that my roommate had given me, reading my yearbook over and over again and writing blog entries about my last days and moments at LPC. Now, there is no more to write. I am home, the “story” of my graduation, of two years United World College is told.

I must admit; I already miss my roommates and friends, waking up to the view on the bay and mountains. The fact that I can be indoors without getting bitten by mosquitos is a boon. I will have to find new things to do on Friday and Saturday nights; the beach and the stairs, where we would hang out together, are clearly too far away now. Sushi and post stamps will never be as cheap again, and thunderstorms never as exciting. The home fridge now offers real and healthy food; and I believe I should not even suggest having condensed milk on white toast for breakfast anymore. Working-out side by side with teachers and their spouses in the gym is probably something, that I’ll equally not experience anymore. There are many details of all-day-life in LPC that I have always ignored, though so substantially different to life back home, that now, in form of memories, come back already with all their force. But still, I’m not sad.

I moreover feel incredibly glad, blessed to have been able to experience the last two years in the way I did. I look back and I see how much I have grown and developed. I look around my room, and can assign memories and events to all the souvenirs and pieces of clothes that I have already unpacked; the pants my buddy brought my from Thailand last year, the blue jumper my tutor Julie gave me so I would survive the cold of Guangzhou during China Week in my 1st year and the green shirt from the Turtle Hospital in Hainan from this year’s project week. I look into the future and I can see more challenges to face and overcome, plus a gigantic UWC Alumni Network of 50’000 caring people to always support me and offer me a bed in every single country in the world. I’m already excited about my invitation to the German Alumni gathering in July and the Graduation celebration, where I’ll meet all my German co-years from other UWCs. The many adventures and experiences of the last two years have shaped me in a way that I believe no other place could have, emphasizing my strengths and talents and letting me grow out of weaknesses. I may have come to LPC with an idea of the UWC values, but only at a United World College itself could I understand and learn what they really mean – something that is impossible to summarize in a blog entry, but would rather require a whole book to express.

The many people who made it possible for me to live this experience and were part of it, will always remain in my heart and mind. None of this would have been possible without the German National Committee, to whom I remain grateful for having chosen me to send on to this adventure; without my family, who, convinced of the UWC movement from the very start, supported me and my dreams throughout my journey; without my teachers, who have always endured to be inspiring, encouraging and understanding and were part of my experience far beyond the classroom; and without my own Second-, First- and Co-Years, for whom I fear no words would be enough to express my gratitude, appreciation and affection, even love.

Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong was and remains my dream school; and if I could, I would choose to go the same path all over again. Now it is up to me to go forth into the world and use my education, knowledge and newly shaped values for the better of this world and the people on it. I was sometimes before criticized for my idealism, openness and honesty, and dream of changing the world. Being at a UWC however showed me, that exactly these are part of the right attitude, if you want to move mountains. UWC gave me everything I wanted; taught, challenged and shaped me in every aspect. It is now my turn to go out there to spread its word and mission and give something back to the world.

I’d like to end with a quotation from English novelist Terry Pratchett: No more words. We know them all, all the words that should not be said. But you have made my world more perfect.”

My whole journey home took over thirty hours, with long stops in between at the Dubai Airport and Frankfurt Railway Station. Since I couldn’t sleep on the plane and train, I used the five hours in Dubai to doze, though I was too worried about my luggage to actually fall asleep. On the train then, the surrounding passengers were so loud that napping was nearly impossible, though one of the first things my brother and parents, who I called as soon as the plane crew allowed to do so, realized, was that I sounded incredibly exhausted. Such was no surprise, considering the many things I had still accomplished and done in the last week – exams, graduation, the show and farewells. Instead, I alternately read a book, the first one since I had finished the IB, and reveled in memories. During the last few hours of the long train ride, I went through my yearbook. While the many photos of block activities, cultural evenings, project weeks and tutor groups made my loose myself in reminiscence and reflective thoughts, the notes that my friends and peers had left me in the last, blank pages of the yearbook, filled my heart with both warmth and woe.

While reading the entries, the voices of their writers resounded in my ears; I heard their laughter and recalled their embraces. I smiled more and more with every sentence; while a veil of tears that gathered in my eyes now and then sometimes made it difficult to read on. Many of them commended my blog, and photography, which “immortalized our wonderful memories” of LPC. My Secret Valentine thanked me for making her life so much better in February. My Israeli Firstyear commented on me “tagging along to all our awkward Jew holidays […] and being terrified of telling people where I’m from”. One of the football players thanked me for my photographic and general support of the LPC Football Team. A Firstyear from Hong Kong explained how he was enchanted by the fact that I would hug people whenever I saw them, making days brighter no matter what. Many appreciated the way I had taught or helped them with German, congratulated me on my Grad Square Quote (“Well-behaved women seldom make history”) or applauded my “bold idealism”, overall attitude to life and the devotion to my peers. The many, many words of love and friendship, appreciation and inspiration were simply overwhelming and I read the notes over and over again. By the time I could barely see anymore, because my eyes were too wet, I nearly knew them by heart, playing them over and over again in my head.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” T. Meeha

My plane was to leave Hong Kong on Saturday, 6.40 pm. Since quite a bulk of people planned to leave campus at 1pm the same day, I decided to do the same. However, as expected, the farewells took so long that we eventually left half an hour later. A whole bunch of students had come to the stairs in front of the canteen, where a roof protected us from the pouring rain. Before, I had visited most of my teachers, too say goodbye and thank them for everything they had done for me in the last two years. Some of them were not home, but since I am by now befriended with most of them on Facebook, I know that we will stay in touch. I visited for example Nick, our Director of Studies, who had worked together with me on the Facebook page and with whom’s children I had developed a wonderful friendship, mostly expressed by our bike rides along the campus or long hours together in the LPC pool.

I also visited Sylla, my history teacher, with whom I stayed for half an hour, talking about languages and my future. He advised me never to learn Japanese by a native speaker, and to re-learn Russian, this time fully, so that I could indulge in Russian literature and poetry. We drank tea and he told me about his plans to “die in Germany”. Before I left, we hugged for a long time and while I had trouble to keep my mind clear, I explained to him that he had been “by far and of all, the very best teacher I ever had”, ceaselessly inspiring and motivating. The fact that his eyes got very wet revealed that this moment of separation, for now, was not only hard for me. 942545_10152835628000403_1909605927_n

I tried to find more teachers, but many of them were not home. However, this was most unsettling when I realized that my tutor, Julie, had not yet come back from her morning hike. I wrote a note to her door, telling her that I would leave soon and that while I hoped to see her before 1, I wished her all the best and looked forward to seeing her, Marj and Willow soon again. Writing the few lines seemed to take ages, while I tried to write as neat as possible, despite my shaking hands and the tears blocking my sight. Eventually, I returned to my room. My roommates and friends helped me packing my suitcase, backpack and violin into huge plastic bags to protect them from the Black rain, and, encircled in a bulk of friends, I finally started my way to the gate – for the last time, at least in a while.

One warm and hearty “bear” hug followed the other. Many students cried as they said goodbye to each other, but I had always wanted to leave campus without a tear in my eye and a big smile on my face. In fact I must say that my laughter was more than genuine while I hugged all those people; I appreciated their love and glad to have graduated, excited to move on and more than ready for the summer break. Though it was indeed a moment of sadness and separation, I decided to look at the bright sides of it. I also remembered Sylla’s words about departures: A few years ago, students would faint in the parking lots upon departure, knowing that they would actually never see some of their dearest friends away. But today, in the century of Facebook, Skype, Emails and Co., I know that keeping in touch will not be hard, and that I will be able to keep my promises of seeing many of them again.970688_10152880716660077_167561056_nDSC02181

My roommates and I hugged several times, eventually stayed together in a long embrace, promising to write and Skype each other. Some of my best friends left the farewell gathering early, after we hugged and exchanged warm words and promises at the side, since they did not want to actually see me leave: “It’s too much to take”, one of them said. Eventually, just before I was about to leave, Julie drove by. She stopped the car and I ran towards her, hugging her for along time, incredibly glad that she had still made it to my departure. Finally, when I believed it was enough, I heaved my bag onto my back and called my roommates. They came with me, all the way through the gate and to the MTR station. Indeed, I left smiling, and hand in hand with my roommates. On the way to the MTR, walking through the rain, we sang “Seasons of Love” together; the song that had, within days, become a symbol for our First- and Secondyear Relationship. At the station, we parted.DSC02266 DSC02256

While the escalator slowly took me up to the platform, I watched them beneath me, waving till they were out of sight, and while I waited for the train, I could see the A-Block outside of the station, peaking through the trees, as if it equally wanted to watch me, till I was lost to view.

Departure. Long had it shadowed over us, but we had always pushed it back into some hidden corner of our conscience. Now that the first Secondyears began to leave right after the graduation ceremony, the word and its meaning pushed its way back to our mind, occupying it fully and taking priority over everything else – even sleep, since some of us left in the early morning or late night hours, and none of us wanted to let them leave un-hugged and -blessed. So many of us stayed up for long the last days, constantly on the run between yearbook signing, the canteen, clearance stress with our block teachers, and the gate, where most farewells took place. My newsfeed on Facebook slowly filled with people updating their profile pictures to roomie photos and the number of statuses of thank-you and farewell grew hourly. I’d like to allow myself to quote from some of my co-years’ reflections, to represent not only my own emotions concerning the end of my life at LPC, but also those of my whole year group.

“It was hard saying goodbye. I know I don’t need to explain it to any of you since you were all there, but I want to say that you (co-years, second years and first years) have become my family and my best friends. Reading the letters and my yearbook on the boat coming back home made me cry and touched my heart so much. We made it. We finished the crazy adventure we started two years ago, and we finished strong. I’m so proud of the people we have become and feel so honoured to have been able to grow up with all of you these past two years. I can’t believe it’s over but I know that I will see the ones that matter again someday, somewhere. I’m not worried about that. I guess I just want to say thank you. Thank you for all the insane, unforgettable memories and for the immense amount of love that have shaped me through this experience.” – Mia (China/ Argentina)

“There is much saudade in my heart for a place that will soon no longer exist, a beautiful place with beautiful people who have a whole lot of heart. a place that I have come to call home. I now look at a map of the world and realize that there will be smiling faces waiting for me wherever I go, and open arms that will embrace me no matter how many years it has been. LPC is home for me, but now because of it I can call the entire world home. I cannot articulate what a blessing LPC has been to me, and even though there has been work, stress and tears, for every ounce of that I have had friends, laughter, fun in equal measure, and after that, strength to carry on. I am home now, in my own bed, staring out of the window at an alien view. I used to wake up to birdsong and trees, and the various different alarms of my roommates as we all crawled out of bed one by one. We had our different rhythms, that somehow worked together so well. I miss your voices, and when I close my eyes, I can still hear them as though it was yesterday. But I cannot go back, and this is today. […] LPC 2011-2013. I would do it all over again. Thank you all for being a part of me, and making me a part of you.” – Fernanda (HK)

“Thank you, Li Po Chun United World College, for the absolutely life-changing two years. I will never again be in a high concentration of talent and altruism that inspires and provokes me daily. For the class of 2013, we have had a helluva ride. In the first days we were still just children thrown into a confusing but colorful LPC. Now, we are mature men and women who have conquered LPC and are ready to assess, adapt to and conquer the rest of the world. For the class of 2014, revel in every dang opportunity you have. Work hard, play hard, build meaningful relationships.” – Jason (New Zealand)

“If I were to say to my 5 year old self that I would meet so many inspirational, strong, breathtaking people at a school just 30 minutes away, I would have laughed. 13 years of education (and counting), words cannot describe the beautiful 2 years I’ve had on this campus. Ups and downs, laughter and tears, insecurities and revelation; LPC gave me more than an education, it gave me a chance to truly understand myself. […] I did not anticipate how a true ‘international’ experience would impact me in so many ways. I learnt how to defuse moments of tension arising from cultural clashes. I learnt how to hug a person depending on their nationality, religious beliefs and occasion. I learnt to hide my smile when the continent of Africa was referred to as a country. I learnt that ignorance is never bliss, that when living, eating and breathing with peers from over 80 different countries, this was the best education you could ever get. Most importantly, I learnt that who we surround ourselves with in these penultimate years will shape and carve our vision and mission for the world.” Lilian (HK/ UK)