For the third time this summer, I found myself suffering from a sore shoulder, because apparently you can’t just hop on a plane and move to another country you’ve never been to without the proper vaccines.
I endure this for you Ecuador!
People always ask me, what kind of study I’ll be doing there for a year? Of course, I find a bit of confusion on their faces when I say I won’t be attending an educational institution whilst there. The confusion usually stems from the fact that I should be studying at this age, I should want to get the degrees and diplomas that are picked up along the traditional educational journey we all know and think of as the norm. I don’t necessarily see myself not going to university, in fact, I’ve been accepted into a university that I love, one that encompasses the innovative approach to tertiary education that I’d been looking for. Thankfully, a university that understood where I was coming from, and encouraged me, when I told them that I want to defer to next year.
I see this time in my life as something so pivotal, so confusing, and so incredibly important. I’ve attended many educational institutions, and thankfully, have come out of each more curious and full of questions than before I’d started. This time especially, after having attended United World College Maastricht, and having countless discussions and initiatives that we hoped would lead us to an understanding of how we can better integrate the UWC values into our utopian bubble of a community, I find myself wanting to know how to best put what I’ve learned into action, in the real world. Disengaging from utopia, to me, means not understanding why what our bubble has been striving to obtain, doesn’t seem to be in line with what everyone in the real world wants. It means that the way you think is best, because that’s how you’ve always done it, may not do half the good it usually would. It means that the process might crumble beneath your leadership, because you don’t really know how to speak to, and understand, those who don’t hold similar opinions to yours. You’re incredibly critical, but need to learn to be as constructive. You find yourself missing essential aspects of the process of community building, and not understanding why.
I’m using this time of my life to spend time with people who may not agree with how I do things. Those who may live their lives differently, and achieve so much, as a community, by using methods that the people I’ve surrounded myself with and I, never would have thought of. I’m doing this to challenge the me I am in order to become the me I never knew I needed to be. I’m doing this for my family, friends, future classmates, and all those who may cross my path, so that I can offer them the version of myself that has progressed more than I might have, had I not taken this bridge year opportunity. Most of all, I’m doing this to understand myself at a depth that I hadn’t before, to spend a little more time with myself than I had been offered within a rigorous academic setting, to become stronger in spirit, mind, and hopefully in body too (build dat strength yeaaa), and be more aware of my actions as an individual who’s obsessed with the advancement and progress of society.