Liana Starlet, Grade 11
Preparing to attend UWC you’re told not to make any assumptions. Valid advice, but almost impossible to follow. You’re told the experience is like nothing you could have ever imagined or hoped for. In both positive and negative ways, that much is true. No lack of expectations can prepare you for what waits ahead once you arrive. Few words can articulate the feeling of terrifying excitement that accompanies arriving at UWC. Closely tied to that is the inability to describe the places, people, and experiences you so greatly love, regardless of the challenges that follow. Although UWC as a movement focuses on education, most of our learning isn’t done in a classroom. We find those moments of clarity in the middle of the night in comfortable silence with our peers. Or at our favourite cafe over a cup of much needed coffee. To name a singular memory or instance in which my short time here embodied UWC would be unjust. To list the endless moments of learning and appreciation would also not serve my new home justice. Instead I’ll settle for attempting to appreciate this indescribable feeling of comfort that comes with realizing just how much there is to learn. UWC Mostar is unique in the fact that it does not have a closed campus, making students’ favourite places even more interesting as they’re spread throughout the city. Most would agree Neretva tops the list as one of the more beautiful spots in the city. But personally I’m more a fan of Velic’s study room, in which I often find myself sitting and appreciating the company of people I don’t know. I am currently surrounded by numerous other people, all working separately, yet willing to help each other. It feels as though this situation very clearly sums up UWC, people of all different backgrounds working on different projects, all supporting each other casually. These are my favourite moments at UWC. They’re the points in which the most interesting yet seemingly aimless conversations take place. Of course we often discuss important international issues considering we’re in the unique position to be able to talk to people from the places where these events are occurring, but we also tend to lean more towards the opportunity to explore the way things are pronounced in different countries or our favourite foods from home. Cultural understanding is found in both of these genres, and without the other, an intersectional approach would not be found nor utilized. Despite having not been here for an extended period of time, the memories that litter my recollection of the past week make me feel as though my days here have been numerous. This feeling of comfort is also often found in our canteen during meal times. The conversations of both extremely serious and extremely childlike quality provide the perfect opportunity to learn both academically and socially amongst each other. My first friendships here formed over an early 7 am breakfast after arriving at the dorms knowing no one. The other students met my confusion with sympathy, having been in this situation only hours prior. The thoughtful responses and questions I was met with by my new friends immediately brought upon the ‘UWC’ feeling I so desperately tried not to expect, yet excitedly awaited. This sense of community formed in contrasts in the most fundamental aspects lies at the heart of UWC. Our unifying qualities are found in these conversations, discussing our differences. One of the first things you come to both accept and realize at UWC is there’s always a common ground to be found and dissected, despite how drastically different we all may seem.