I am already starting to see how the UWC has changed me although I only graduated from UWC Red Cross Nordic a year ago. Two years in that unique little world made from multiculturalism and idealistic inspiration, placed among high mountains and peaceful fjords has, I think, brought about an enormous enhancement of my personality.
I went back to Sweden after graduation to gain some experience of ‘real life’. During the fall of 2015 Sweden became a very interesting place to be due to the European refugee crisis. What I learned at UWC helped me a lot in everything I was doing. I know that the people who come to Sweden are not just refugees, they are people with different stories, knowledge, languages, experiences and cultures – just like my beloved co-years at RCN. I cherish every opportunity to learn from, and help, these people. At UWC I also realized the importance of communicating and believing in one’s ideas. Therefore, I decided to set up a school for the refugees who have not yet received their residence permits (and hence, are not permitted to start the compulsory Swedish courses). So I was teaching Swedish to about a hundred adults. Many Swedish people asked me how it was that I, a 20 year-old without a degree in education, could initiate and carry out such a project on my own. My answer was the UWC experience, which taught me the real meaning of equality between humans, the beauty of cultural and ethnic diversity and the skill to believe in myself and my ideas.
My plans for the future include more than humanitarian work, however. In the spring of 2016 I will be going to Ecuador, where I will teach English in a village school for three months. I look forward to the voluntary work, but also to the opportunity of throwing myself into a culture (and language!) that is brand new to me. In the fall of 2016 I will enrol at the College of the Atlantic in Maine USA, where I will study human ecology with a focus on environmental science. I have been interested in environmental science for a long time and my time at RCN made me even more keen to go into this direction. Environmental issues and injustice exist in the background of most global conflicts and it is becoming more urgent every day. I believe the international understanding and leadership skills I gained at RCN will help me to better understand and work with environmental issues worldwide.