Expanding horizons through education
“Education at UWC ISAK Japan opened up my world,” recalls Cararise (Zambia / Class of 2021). Now studying Economics and Political Sciences at the University of Oklahoma, she feels confident thanks to her academic knowledge gained at UWC ISAK Japan.
For example, for one of her Global Politics engagement activities about freedom of speech in Zambia, she had the opportunity to do research on her home country and speak to activists. These experiences made her realize there were people passionate about making the life of others better. And it motivated her to get involved in politics back home.
The political situation in Zambia
When she studied her home country for her Global politics Class, a lot was going on in Zambia. Some young people felt threatened by the government when protesting for change. However, Zambia’s 2021 elections had a strong turnout, and Cararise is waiting to see improvements under the new regime. She has been following the news closely since her time at UWC ISAK. Now at university, she is part of a Model United Nations (MUN) group that debates global issues and the African Union club, which she co-founded with one of her school seniors.
“This was my place”
Cararise was not deeply interested in politics before UWC ISAK Japan. However, she was always patriotic and loved her nation’s national anthem. Growing up, her uncle had a lot of influence on her budding passion for politics. He made her read the newspapers, and she accompanied him when he went to help count votes. Still, she never saw herself studying politics. Instead, she always wanted to become a doctor, which is still what her family hopes for her to become.
“UWC ISAK helped me discover which part I want to play in the world,” she recalls. She started by randomly picking her IBDP subjects since she never had Politics or Economics classes at home. Yet “from the very first day, I knew this was my place.” A book that her Global Politics teacher Mr. Earwood (2016-2022), lent her, Why Nations Fail (Jeffrey Sachs), is still her favorite book to this date.
Cararise’s CAS project was Education for Africa. Together with classmates Lauricenia (Mozambique), Astrid (El Salvador), and Junita (Liberia), they organized workshops to encourage young people in Africa to pursue education. In addition, they hosted three online conferences, which gathered around 200 students in Liberia, 50 in Mozambique, and 30 in Zambia. They shared their story and invited inspiring guest speakers to motivate young people to consider education important. “I would never have thought I could do that before UWC ISAK,” she recalls.
“I redefined for myself what it means to be African”
If Cararise encourages young people to value education, coming to UWC ISAK Japan wasn’t an easy ride. “One of my biggest challenges was adapting to the learning style. Back home, we didn’t use computers even to submit assignments. I didn’t know how to find all the websites teachers mentioned in class, and I always asked friends.
“On the first morning I woke up in my new room, I realized I was so far from home. I cried so much.” It was also hard to learn how Africa is portrayed outside of the continent. “It was heavy on me. I was not just Cararise, but also the symbol of Zambia and Africa in some classes,” she recalls. “I had to redefine what my identity means for me. And this took time.”
A good support system
But she wasn’t alone in this journey. What helped her is that at UWC ISAK, everybody can tell their story and be heard. The faculty offered her a great support system as well. “UWC ISAK is such a tight community,” she says. “Everybody knows you by your name. And it was a safe space. I felt heard and understood. People were very aware. And being surrounded by people who want to do things better was just so inspiring.”
A dream of education for all
There are lots of things that Cararise would like to see change in her home country. The first is education. she wants everybody to attend school, especially those who cannot afford it now. Many free government and private schools exist in Zambia, but some young people grew up in homes where no one went to school, so there is no reason to go. Also, some people cannot afford school books, uniforms, etc. “Education changed my life,” recalls Cararise. “I don’t know where I would be now if I didn’t go to school.”
Cararise went through a lot of hardship to be where she is today. Her uncle and aunt raised her and were very adamant about education. Her uncle taught her how to read, and her aunt would be the one waking her up early for exams, preparing everything she needed for school.
She received a generous scholarship from the Kucetekela Foundation from Grade 8, a highly competitive grant for underprivileged high academic achievers with only ten slots available in her country. She was among the 20 finalists who went through a series of exams and interviews. The scholarship allowed her to attend one of the best schools in Zambia, the Chalo Trust School. “I never thought about making things better before seeing other people do great things,” says Cararise. Sadly, right before coming to UWC ISAK Japan, her uncle, who pushed her so much to go to school, passed away.
We deeply admire Cararise’s resilience and incredible mindset and wish her all the best in the next steps of her journey.
Read other alumni story on our Leaders Beacon Blog.