Gino Ndiko, Grade 12
UWCEA Arusha Campus
When I joined UWC, I was a shy and closed-off person. Being an introvert, I was rather worried I would not easily make friends. I was immediately intimidated by all my new classmates because they had accomplished so much before coming to the school. Since I felt rather unremarkable in this new environment, I intended to focus on my academics and other co-curricular activities in order to prove to myself that I belonged there. It was also overwhelming to be in the same school with people from so many different nations for the first time. It was an abundance of new cultures, languages and beliefs.
During orientation week, I realised that the people I could easily talk to were my fellow East African students. We had more in common and shared somewhat similar views and opinions on certain topics. We immediately started spending time with each other playing cards or holding random dance parties in the room. I remember spending my weekends watching movies with my friends, especially horror movies. It was comforting to know that even though I joined this new school, I had some friends who I knew I could confide in. I knew that I had found people who would make every day of school happier and more pleasant.
This friend group taught me that it was important to relax and take time to recuperate. Initially, I was a person who would work myself too hard in order to achieve the best results. I often missed out on group outings. My priorities were always academics and trying to volunteer for everything with the hope of having as many accolades as my classmates had. I will never forget what one of my friends, Ruthie told me on one of those days I felt overwhelmed. She said, “ You can only do as you’re much as you’re able to. At the end of the day, be proud of yourself because you are an amazing, smart and kind person.” This piece of advice could not have come at a better time since the stress of the rigorous curriculum was starting to affect me. I immediately decided to take a break from my studies and watched a movie to calm my nerves. I enjoyed the serenity without the obsession with academics.
Despite the fact that these people were the first friends I made at UWC, they gave me the confidence to approach other people and form new friendships with people from all over the world. It was refreshing to know that other people were just as warm and welcoming as I hoped they would be. I did not know I would have so much in common with someone from Macedonia or have so much to laugh and talk about with someone from Cameroon. All in all, I do not think I would be as happy as I am while at school if I did not meet that extraordinary group of East Africans.