Despite being a recent UWC ISAK Japan grad and set to embark on a new academic challenge at King’s College London, Alina (Class of 2018, Singapore) just couldn’t resist the urge to visit our campus once more before her new school began. But this time, her visit was extra special as she was able to support our Arrival Day activities as a volunteer, where one of our newest students just happened to be a very close relative. Naturally, we were thrilled to see Alina again and just as pleased to welcome her younger sister Sara as one of the newest members of the UWC ISAK family.
Recently, Alina shared with us some reflections on her time at our school:
I remember one time when everyone in our dorm was gathering to celebrate someone’s birthday. Everyone came, except one student, who said that birthdays are not celebrated in her religion. It really forced me to step back and think about diversity. I realized that living in diversity is about learning from each other and being able to co- exist, despite our different views and traditions. Before this event, I assumed that everyone generally lives the same as I do. But something as apparently simple as celebrating a birthday helped me become more aware of our differences.
On another occasion over dinner one day, a fellow student expressed an opinion that was different (and probably not a popular one). At first, I thought that other students would step in and stop them, but they actually said, “let’s talk about it.” I felt it was a perfect illustration of diversity. In my three years at UWC ISAK Japan, I learned that the important thing was not whether views and opinions were “right” or “wrong”, but that we need to acknowledge and explore different perspectives, even if you can’t agree.
Before I came to UWC ISAK, I was on a very safe and stable academic path in Singapore. I attended a top school and all my friends and family were there. So stepping off the safety of that path and joining UWC ISAK, which had almost no track record at that point, was the single biggest risk I had ever taken. It was both an incredible blessing and a massive challenge. Without a doubt, UWC ISAK gave me a much better perspective on what options are available and it prepared me for whatever might come next. I can honestly say that without this school and community I would be a very different person.