You Need to Experience Yourself to Know the Magic of UWC
You Need to Experience Yourself to Know the Magic of UWC

"UWC experience is unique to everyone."


My first day at UWC…


Me: So, would you mind sharing a bit about your UWC experience?

Second year: Hmm… I would say UWC changed my life.

Me: Oh really? But how?

Second year: You'll only know if you have experienced it.

Me:??????? Okay… (with a face full of doubt)


One and a half years later…


Assembly reflection time: Talk to your neighbor about your UWC experience so far.

Me: Hmm… I would say UWC changed my life because…

My neighbor: Really???? Okay…( with a face full of doubt)

So, what changed? 


Bringing the World Together


Our IB curriculum is enriched by the fact that we are in a UWC. In Economics class, we often share different policies from our own countries and discuss the implication of these policies. In Geography calss, every class is like a MUN conference with peers representing a dozen different countries. Sometimes I take something for granted and believe it is the absolute truth, but often my classmates provide a totally different viewpoint, challenging my previous assumptions, provide more possibilities to consider. With peers from all over the world, not only can we have an overview of global issues, but we can also get a local's perspective on a specific issue, allowing us to dive further. Thus, we are able to connect and apply theoretical knowledge to the real world.

  • Author

Residential Life


I couldn't imagine what my UWC life would look like without the fact that it is also a residential community. I had such a great time just by bonding with my roommates alone! Three years in UWC has given me the opportunity to know the Netherlands, Myanmar, Mexico, and Ukraine a little bit more. Room dinners and late-night conversations have allowed us to bond closely and become close friends. A simple question or comment can spark an hour-long discussion, sometimes it's a serious discussion about global issues, sometimes it's a laughter while we enjoy sharing our childhood anecdotes.


On the house level, we have more activities. Our house "initiation" ceremony was to wake everyone up in midnight and bring them to Yushan Academy to look at sunrise and take a vow to a guinea pig. We fought together in UWC Olympics, we rehearsed together for the karaoke night, and we bonded over our house tea time and screaming after check-in.


Outside of house, other events bring the whole community together, such as Open Mic, Faculty Follies Show, Art 88, Cultural weeks, etc. They provide a platform for everyone to share their talents and stories. I don't even remember how many times I have been amazed at how talented my peers are and how many times I have approached them and said, "Hey this is so cool, can you teach me that?" This is UWC, a place where we can interact and share our ideas freely.

  • Mini-UWC organisers


Boundless Community


Gaining a fabulous UWC experience is not enough, as we aim to give back to our local communities and promote the UWC movement. Thanks to our school's Zhixing program, I was able to build my team and organize Mini-UWC Summer Program and TEDx events. To me, these events are significant as they mean that even as high school students we can make some changes happen. When we cultivate the habit of changing instead of only talking or complaining, we will make changes years later when we have more resources and skills.

  • Changshu Challenge

So what?

In a nutshell, UWC has influenced me so much, because not only I realized the importance of global awareness, I also gained an opportunity to immerse myself in a global environment and apply theoretical knowledge to the real world, like how I connected a literary analysis of historical fiction with a topical issue of gender inequality in my extended essay. Our vibrant community and heated discussions of global issues sparked my interest in Sociology and prompted me to initiate research regarding prominent issues we face today like the aging population. Zhixing opportunities empower me to become a game changer instead of waiting for change to happen.


Of course, UWC experience is unique to everyone, so I will actually quote my second year here: "You need to experience it yourself to know the magic of a UWC education." 


Author:Coco Zhang, Class of 2019, UWC Changshu China;  Class of 2023, Yale University

Photos:  Coco Zhang