How to Nail the UWC Application

With forms, a personal statement, medical records, possible academic tests, first and second interviews, applying to the United World Colleges is no joke, and it may seem intimidating. Hopefully, these pointers will help simplify your application.

Not everyone will have to go through all the processes listed above; the components of the application will vary depending on whether you apply directly to a specific school, or via a national committee, in which case your application will also differ depending on your nationality. Now, regardless of the channel through which you apply, some core considerations apply universally  – here are my tips.

Work hard. When considering your application, the committee will want reassurance of your academic capacity and motivation. The IB is rigorous, and requires substantial effort from students, and the application committee will want to feel confident that you’ll be capable not only of doing well in the IB, but of doing so well that you’ll also have time for extracurricular activities on campus. This, after all, is just as important as academics in a United World College.

Take initiative. As UWC is keen on selecting students who are motivated to make an impact in the world, and to actually go the extra mile to see that change come into effect,   it’s important for the committee to see that you are active and involved, may it be in drama, politics, sport or what have you.

Stay true. Be truthful about who you are and think long and hard about why you want to attend one of the colleges. The committees know very well who would be suitable for a stay at UWC, and which college in particular. Therefore, a truthful application will augment your chances of an enriching and memorable experience.

The personal statement: write at least a couple drafts, and be sure to let some sharp people who know you well proofread them. Be sure to keep the information relevant; don’t waste space on formalities and unnecessary information.

The interview: the most important thing to be sure of, is why you’re applying, and to be able to speak about yourself. I prepared by looking through all sorts of political, economic and social issues and news, and was taken aback when they asked me to simply tell them about myself. So prepare your pitch, but try not to make it too robotic. Most people I’ve talked to felt that the interview went badly, so if it doesn’t go entirely as you would have liked, don’t worry.

Good luck with your application, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

All Credit To Batya

Having left UWC, I’ve decided to share a beautiful poem written by my good friend Batya. Certainly recent UWC alumni, and others, will appreciate Batya’s words. Enjoy.

 

If you pump enough caffeine through your veins it starts to seep out through your fingertips

2:46 is bedtime
I switch off the fluorescent screens and open my windows. The moths only stop by for a visit when there’s light in my room.
I look out and see the light still on in the corridor opposite mine. Third room from the end. Solidarity to you, whomever you are.
In the distance there are orange clouds pressed against the no longer pitch black sky. If you look at it for long enough you can see the lightning over the smeared horizon.
This one time we were hiking in the dark because we got lost after sunset and Wouter told us about degrees of darkness. It has to do with your position on the earth and its relation to the sun.
Sometimes we can go days without seeing a clear sky. These are the same days that the internet fails us. Completely. It’s called Prehistory.
Tonight, I don’t know where home is.

for two years I’ve strung people from places together

and called myself nomad.
Tomorrow we will go to places where the degrees of darkness separate us

We will be far

and I will be homesick.
– Batya Globerman (WK 2015 – 2015, Costa Rica)

Tips for a Future Waterfordian

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One of Many “Foam” Sessions

Before writing some closing remarks for this blog, I feel urged to compile a list of tips for future Waterfordians. In fact, I had quite a bit of fun doing it. Keep in mind that these tips are rooted in experience. Enjoy!

Consider the following:

  • Don’t be afraid to stay up late, rambling on with friends. “Foam” sessions hold intrinsic value.
  • Favela has the best showers in Emhlabeni – even if you don’t actually reside there!
  • Welile is the cab to call. Reach him @76636981, and let him know I gave you his number. You won’t regret it.
  • Make the most of the many extracurricular and service opportunities at Waterford. If you can’t find what  you’re looking for, start it!
  • A well-decorated cubie will quickly become a cozy home.
  • Learn to love pap and beef. Also chicken and rice.
  • When in Maputo, Nucleo De Arte is an absolute must.
  • Go to Joburg and stay at Curiosity Backpackers in Maboneng. It’s a hot place.
  • Eat butter chicken at Green Chilli.
  • Also, it’s ok to order butter chicken from Green Chilli and sit at Ocean Basket for their wine.
  • Go to House on Fire’s events. Go during the daytime, as well.
  • Take kombis – they’re cheap and fun. Maybe not on the Malanguane highway on a rainy day – safety is important.
  • Don’t be silly when it comes to overnight exeats – it’s easy to check out legitimately.
  • Nights are more fun if they include Solanis or Pub n’ Grill.
  • Camp at Bushfire (!), and don’t be afraid to talk to random people – you’ll have fun.
  • If you decide to go to Moonlight, don’t go alone.
  • When IB gets heavy, take a walk around campus, and reflect on how immensely privileged you are to live in such a wonderful place.
  • Nights at the Millin are more fun with beer-pong.
  • When going to a jol, quarts (660 ml) of beer can be bought for R13 at spazas.
  • Recommended backpackers (+) in Swaziland: Legends, Sundowners, Cathmar, Sondzela, Veki’s Village (NOT Veki’s guesthouse)
  • Try to keep your cubie at least relatively clean. Life will be nicer.
  • Maintain a good relationship with the staff – both teachers and others. It’ll make your experience significantly easier.
  • If you’re well organized, you won’t need to pull the notorious all-nighters. I did only one, and I wasn’t even particularly organized – win.
  • Mrs. Tinney is a sweetheart. She will make sure you have a link family to stay with!
  • Appreciate that the babes and makes dedicate their time and hard work in order for you to live comfortably. Let them know that you appreciate them.
  • Scented candles from Mr. Price Home give you a good return on your cash.
  • Appreciate your fellow students. These people will become your family, through thick and thin.
  • Have fun

Congratulations on being admitted to Waterford. Make the most of it!

 

Best,

Markus

Kwakha Indvodza’s Work Experience Program

Over sixty young men and boys in Swaziland have taken part in a work experience program that provided valuable learning and networking opportunities. Several of these young men have gotten callbacks and job opportunities after the program; others have returned to school, in order to further prepare for future work.

Here are some photos from the programme:

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For more information on the project, go to this article, or to Kwakha Indvodza’s home page.

 

Markus

An Exciting end to an Eventful Term

Once again, it’s time to say goodbye to Waterford and Swaziland for a while, and head north. I am glad to take a break; however, I will still pay attention to especially one happening in this Kingdom, over the holidays. Kwakha Indvodza, the first project sponsored by BOOST.

Kwakha Indvodza aims to provide personal and professional mentoring to young Swazi boys and men who have grown up in the absence of positive male role models. The organization is the first of its kind in a country that struggles with the highest prevalence of HIV and Tuberculosis in the world as well as a high rate of child-headed households.

With an ever growing presence of 50+ boys and 20+ mentors in the program, Kwakha Indvodza needs more support to grow its program and continue providing impactful mentoring to young Swazis.

We’re thrilled and proud to say that our tuck-shop in hostel has been fruitful enough that we can now make a substantial contribution to this organization. Over the holiday, Kwakha Indvodza is aiming to take over fifty teenagers and young men through internship programs in businesses in Swaziland, empowering them to enter the job market.

I will make sure to update you on the results of this program, as soon as we receive reports from the organization. To make a donation to Kwakha Indvodza, or to read more about what they do, click here.

Now it’s time for some rest, after which academic assessments and an extended essay outline await (…).

Africa Week at Waterford KaMhlaba

From Wednesday till Sunday last week, Waterford was filled with panel debates, concerts, sports and more in relation to the school’s Africa Week. With visitors from near and far, including executives from UWC, the UN, the African Union, Standard Bank Swaziland and more, this week was truly a success.

The week’s aim was to put African culture in the spotlight, as well as focusing on the debated topic “Africa Rising”. It is important to get different perspectives when is comes to topics like these, and we surely did, during Africa Week. Whilst economic growth has been good (4.4 % annual average growth rate in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past two decades- World Bank) the continent is still struggling, to degrees depending on the area, with HIV and Aids, low levels of education (however rising), socioeconomic inequality and political instability. Another debated topic was, and will continue to be, the existence and influence of neocolonialism in post colonial African countries. From this we can derive the question of whether or not the multiplier effect of the inflow of private capital from overseas is actually doing local economies a favour, or if this simply secures the interests of foreign investors and their portfolio diversifications.

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Close attention was payed, as Birhanu presented on his home country, Ethiopia, at an In-Focus session

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Teammates enjoying the football tournament, kicking off Africa Week Wednesday morning!

IMG_2247IMG_2301The school, and especially Mr. Wekesa, did an amazing job organising this week. Thank you for this wonderful experience!

I believe more photos will be uploaded to www.waterford.sz soon 🙂

Markus

A Culture for Initiative

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It’s been a couple of months since I launched, together with Sameen and Ryan, my first community service initiative and business at Waterford; BOOST.

We’re essentially operating a tuck shop from an empty room in Emhlabeni. People can buy all sorts of snacks and drinks, ranging from chewing gum to noodles and flavored water. So far, the response has been great, and it seems like people are appreciating the business. We’ll probably look for some healthier alternatives to sell, as well, and see how that goes. We’re in the process of moving to Elangeni, and hopefully also to other hostels in the school. 100% of our proceeds go to specific community service initiatives  in Swaziland.

End-of-Term Reflections

My first term at Waterford has come to an end, and in a day and a half, I’ll be on my way to Johannesburg and from thereon home. This seems like a good time to reflect on some first impressions of Swaziland and of UWC.

When I was told I’d been offered a spot at UWC in Swaziland, I had only a vague idea of what life might be like here. Swaziland is one of the poorest countries in the world, with the highest HIV and AIDS prevalence on the planet. However, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a more peaceful and welcoming culture.

I was told not to get disappointed if my experience didn’t turn out to be exactly as I expected it to. It didn’t. Yet, I’m far from disappointed. I love Waterford, and I’ll be forever thankful to my sponsors and my parents for giving me this opportunity. What’s so good about this place? I’ll give you a few examples.

  1. Everybody does something. Every individual in this school does something that is particularly interesting. In fact, there are so many clubs, activities and events to take part in that it’s physically impossible to participate in all of them.
  2. There is support for initiative. A couple of weeks ago, there was a school concert by the choir and some bands, and the assembly hall was packed. Not only was it a good concert – the excitement surrounding the concert was amazing, in and of itself. These sort of things happen regularly. Another noteworthy event was the theatre performances produced by the IB2s at the school. They made me want to take up acting again.
  3. Waterford challenges you, in all aspects of life. Firstly, the IB is rigorous, and the effort needed to achieve a good score is substantial. Secondly, having all these opportunities for extra curricular activities will force you to excel in your areas of interest. Thirdly, the community service opportunities at this school are plentiful. You can work with everything from puppies or recycling to government hospitals or local entrepreneurship. Fourthly, the social and cultural setting of the school is different from anything anyone who comes here is used to, simply because you won’t find the same combination of people anywhere else in the world. You will need to adapt, and respect others.

With all these things to to, naturally, UWC is tiering, and I look forward to a month of relaxation with friends and family.

Markus

Sun, Rocks and Chalk: Part 2

South Africa offers amazing rock climbing. Probably the best I’ve experienced, so far, to be honest. Over Easter break, I went to Waterval Boven with seven other students, one committed teacher, and an external climber.

With kilometres of climbing wall, stretched out in the valley and breathtaking views, you can’t really ask for more.

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We had a blast.

Peace

Oil, Forex and Norwegian UWC Scholarships

Recently, and with no prior notice, all Norwegian UWC students and parents received a letter from our national committee. We were informed of the committee’s decision to raise our fees by almost 100%. This is alarming, as it will almost certainly prevent a group of talented young people from attending a UWC in the future. Poor families may still get an extra grant, while middle income families will strive to afford the increased fee. Furthermore, there is no return for a family currently supporting their son or daughter attending a UWC, facing an enormous increase in fees which might well push their household economically out of balance.

My hypothesis? Partly due to the recent plummet in the price of oil, the general fall in international interest rates, and to spark the overall investment in domestic produce, the Central Bank of Norway has lowered interest rates to historically low levels. However, the low interest rates are likely to have scared off a lot of foreign investors from putting their money in Norwegian banks, funds and assets. This has lead to a weakening of the Norwegian krone.

As the prices of the overseas colleges have not been lowered, and the financial support that UWC Norway receives from the government has not been raised (at least not adequately), more of the payment will now rely on the students and their families. This is probably not the full explanation of the dramatic increase in school fees, but might be a partial cause.

UWC should be a place for talented, active and committed young people, regardless of their parents’ bank wallets. To ensure an organization in which students from all over the world can thrive, without regard to their background, it’s vital that personal financial constraints do not prevent students from applying.

It is important that the Norwegian government and private sponsors understand and appreciate the benefit of investing in UWC scholarships. UWC allows young Norwegians to and experience and better understand the world. They later come back with extensive international networks, which will form part of the cornerstone of a liberal, inclusive and progressive society. There is no doubt that Norway will gain from this, both socially and financially.

As far as I know, Norwegian UWC students have always been very privileged when it comes to financial support, and to some extent I believe we still are. For this I will be forever grateful. Let’s continue to support an organization that increases our understanding, our open-mindedness and our ability to act responsibly in the world.