Why do you want to come here?
Why do you want to come here?

“Why do you want to come here?”

 

That was the first question I was asked during the UWC interview. My answer, summed up in three words, was rather simple: “Because it’s different.”

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“Why do you want to come here?”

 

That was the first question I was asked during the UWC interview. My answer, summed up in three words, was rather simple: “Because it’s different.”

 

If I were to sit for the interview today, my answer would have been the same.

 

Before coming to UWCCSC, I can positively say that I didn’t know how to hold a conversation. When meeting someone new, I’d introduce myself and shake their hand, which would lead to an intense desire to flee from the scene immediately. And don’t even get me started on my reaction to hugs.

 

I don’t blame my previous school for my awkwardness back then, because my previous school was for work, learning and fun, all of which were emphasized at all times during school hours. My school in Malaysia instilled a work ethic within me that resonates till this day, and I’m thankful for that. Without it, I wouldn’t stand a chance against the academic rigor of the IBDP curriculum. If I were still at my previous school, I would undoubtedly be a fantastic student and a humble man. In fact, the school’s motto is one that I strive to manifest in daily life: “Respect for self. Respect for others.”

 

But schools around the world are different. Although it’s difficult to compare schools with each other in a holistic manner to judge the superiority of one over the rest, no two schools are the same—that’s for sure. So I am in no way implying that one school is better than another when I say this: In my two years at UWCCSC, I’ve learnt more about myself and others than in any period of time in the past.

 

Without UWCCSC, although I’d still be a kind and hardworking person, I wouldn’t know how to react to a handshake or a hug.

 

Thank you, UWCCSC, for teaching me life lessons that I will cherish forever.

 

UWCCSC taught me the value of friendship. Friendship doesn’t mean buying a gift for someone and reciprocating with a gift of similar monetary value in the next few months. Friendship is when one person knows what the other is thinking in so much depth that two people don’t have to complete their sentences to know what they want to say. (Friendship could also mean drinking bubble tea together. That works, too.) No matter how different two people are, no matter which part of the world they’re from or how wealthy they are, if any two people at UWCCSC are given merely half an hour of time to chat, they’ll find more common ground than differences. And this is what leads to lifelong friendships, many of which start at this school.

 

In addition to friendship, UWCCSC has made me realize that I’m just as important as my work. Sure, I work a lot—I have to. No one forces me to stop working; I have the freedom to use my time however I want to. Sometimes that means I work twelve hours a day, and sometimes that means merely two hours. But I know when to stop. I have a life, believe it or not. Does that mean that I go out partying every night with a group of friends? Absolutely not. It does mean, however, that I know when it’s time for me to head to the treadmills, I know when it’s time for me to eat, and I know when it’s time for me to spend some time talking to my friends and family. I know how to use my time in the way that sustains a productive yet healthy lifestyle—that’s balance for me.

 

If there’s one thing that never ceases to awe me about the people at this school, it’s how persistent we can be. Although the significant pressure of the IB curriculum is excruciating at times, the curriculum was designed to be executable. So when my friends are watching a movie with each other and I’m the only one finishing my work inside of my room, “I’m not the only one,” I tell myself, “it’s never impossible.” This is the mindset I drill into myself at times of stress, and it’s the same for many of my friends. Trust me, life at any high school is bound to be stressful, but at UWC you’ll find students laughing with each other at times of stress. We laugh, we cry, we complain—but we get through it.

 

These teachings of friendship, balance and persistence are valuable throughout the course of a human life. I owe these teachings to UWCCSC. This school has taught me a lot more than how to react to a hug or how to hold an honest conversation without hurting people. This school has taught me how to live life in harmony with time, others and myself.

 

We’re like family here, all of us. That’s why at the start of every year, we’re all buzzing with excitement to meet our new family members, and at the end of every year, we’re all heartbroken to see the old ones leave.

 

This place is first and foremost a place of learning—but that learning isn’t confined within the four walls of a classroom. This is our home, and we’re all extremely grateful that this home has taught us so much. I genuinely don’t think any other place would grant me the same learning experience as UWCCSC did.

 

So if someone asks me, “Why would I want to come to UWC?” my answer would be the same as always: “Because it’s different.”

 

By Tathagato Mukherjee