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Alumni Interview

Bolin UWC Thailand 2021 – China

As the United World College Thailand class of 2021 goes forth into the world, it is a great time to reflect on the journey that they have had and what it means to be an IB diploma student at UWC Thailand.

‘The UWC experience is unique. Through offering cross-cultural community, a focus on change-making, and the academic rigour of the IB Diploma, UWC schools and colleges provide an education like no other.’ However, what does that mean, feel or even look like?

As the 2021 graduates go out into the world, we share their journey and the UWC experience they have experienced during these two years at UWC Thailand, with their permission.

What was your life like before joining UWC Thailand, and what did you imagine for your future?

I studied in the Chinese Education system till high school and positioned myself as an average student – going to school regularly and making grades as my only goal to pursue at the time. After my middle school exam, I met more international students and decided to become an international student.

Why did you choose to apply to UWC?

I was introduced to UWC by an article that I accidentally clicked on. What was refreshing to me was not only the outstanding alumni that came out of this movement and its proud IB program but also the mission it has always maintained, which is very different from that of schools in China: “UWC makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.” 

With a desire to explore cultures around the world and a passion for meeting people from all over the world, I decided to apply to UWC in the Spring of 2019.

What experiences have influenced you at UWC Thailand and how?

Two years have passed, and I have read some summaries from alumni after graduation. We all, including me, have a lot in common in what we gained at UWC, such as the most common and general one, which is a new perspective on what to eat, drink, and do in different countries. Phuket is supposed to be one of the most representative tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, and the beaches and night markets were places where my classmates and I experienced a smorgasbord of cultures from different countries. We would buy a churro on a Friday night and sit by the lake and gossip, or we would charter a dinghy on vacation and go swimming from the end of the mainland. All of these experiences were unlike anything I had experienced in my home country. It is true that my academic performance will not improve because of these experiences, but they brought me gradually out of the greenhouse, smelled the slightest hint of earthly atmosphere, and taught me how to communicate with people from different backgrounds and how to maintain a mindset of appreciating and enjoying life.

It’s always satisfying to have friends from different backgrounds with the same hobby. One particularly impressive moment was the first week, a couple of 12th graders were passing the ball, and a few of us 11th graders who were just watching from afar got closer and closer and eventually joined them. That’s how Big Bois (the name of the soccer team) gets united. My experience with the soccer team, as written in my Creativity, Activities and Service, taught me to communicate and “keep hungry” on the field, and gave me many memories of watching soccer with my teammates on Saturday nights in the lounge with chips and coke. Some of my classmates were from soccer powerhouses, and they would tell me about their home teams and soccer culture, down to which bar near the stadium had a better atmosphere.

“As the students embark on their 18 months of CAS by exploring new opportunities, friendships and surroundings. A programme enables students to enhance their personal and interpersonal development by learning through experience. It provides opportunities for self-determination and collaboration with others, fostering a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment from their work, whilst acting as a counterbalance to the academic pressures of the Diploma Programme.”

~ Reflection by Kru Heidi, CAS & Community Engagement Coordinator at UWC Thailand

What were your main considerations when applying/deciding on life beyond UWC Thailand?

As I mentioned earlier, I used to position myself as an average student, but my two years at UWC Thailand made me realise that “being myself” is more valuable. Compared to most of my classmates who wanted to study in humanities and social sciences and to study in liberal arts colleges, I was one of the few who firmly chose science and technology university. I think studying on a campus with ten thousand students can better explain the diversity of cultures and the infinite possibilities of trying to change the world.