Thursday, August 6, 2015

One Year Later...

It's incredible how much can change in a year.

You can move states, start college, meet about a million new people, forget you have a blog, etc. etc. In my last semester at UWC I threw myself into focusing on living in the present, each blog opportunity being overshadowed by a "real-life" moment, and so when I left and returned to the real world, it became all too easy to let the blog go.

But I think I'm back.
And I hope it's worth it.
Maybe there will even be some adventuring and deep-thinking to share.

So let me catch you up to where I am now.

Over a year ago (yikes!) I officially graduated from UWC, and- as I had to repeat over and over again while leaving- began a new chapter and a new adventure. Leaving was hard (really, really hard) but over the past year I've learned that I don't have to be in a specific place or with a specific group of people to carry with me the values and ideas in which I believe, and that even though I might be very far away from those people, I will see them again. Plus Skype and Google Hangouts are the best thing since sliced bread (an expression from my music teacher back in Kansas).

Oh and speaking of Kansas, my family has also begun a new adventure. For a number of reasons, the Nebrat family is now happily living in Pennsylvania. I think we all miss Wichita a lot, particularly the people, but it's also been a positive change, and I think it's safe to say we're fairly happy.

I've also just finished my first year of college. I am attending Harvard University, and the past year has been... so many things. I surprised myself by feeling truly homesick for the first time ever last fall. But since then I've come to really love Harvard, and Boston, and all of the great things and lessons of the past year. I was lucky enough to be matched with some of the most incredible girls to live with (I'm sure they'll pop up in a blog soon enough), who definitely made the transition to college easier and way more fun. I was also proud to represent the school as a member of the Crimson Dance Team, and more recently as a member of Crimson Key Society. And as for academics? I was warned Harvard would be "cut-throat" and competitive, but I've found that like most things, it's all about what you make of it. And I've made a grand time of it. So that's that.

What else...?

Oh I've also had to be a proper adult this summer. What with an internship, and a job, and living in a real life house and cooking actual food (not just mac n cheese), I am definitely beginning to feel myself aging. Ok fine I'm not that old, and sure, it's a little fun to get to be responsible.

So that's the really, really short version; a whole year wrapped neatly into one quick blog post.
Hopefully I'll be able to keep up with the blog more regularly now! That's the goal at least. And I guess I'm competitive or something... so I'll just have to meet that goal.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


     Time is often a cliche topic discussed by authors. Descriptions of hours dragging on for eternity can fill whole pages of novels; or to progress to the next exciting plot twist, time is described briefly: "three months later" or "the time flew by...". But a lot can change in those three months, or even in that hour that drags, and, as an English teacher of mine drilled into our semi-conscious minds one early Tuesday morning, horologic and chronometric time are very, very different.
     This past semester could be a prime case study of this idea. Each day still had 24 hours, and there was no discrepancy in the number of days per month, but as often happens at UWC these hours were filled to bursting. Being a UWC Second Year in the final semester has a funny way of changing how you think. All of a sudden you're hyper-conscious of the fact that there are only 63.4 days left of your time in this bubble... 63.2 days... 57 days... 35 days... 2 weeks... 48 hours.... And it becomes your responsibility to fill each of those days, hours, minutes with something that you'll remember, something you'll look back on and think "yeah, that was worth it. I'm so glad I did that".
     It sometimes gets comically blown way out of proportion. Way back in our first year, one of my best friends convinced me to run back to her room with her (all the way up a flight of stairs and down two hallways... ugh.) because "one day we'll look back and remember the time we went back upstairs together".
     No joke, we still reference that moment.
     It becomes a constant debate whether you should read the homework assignment now, or hang out with friends and save the assignment for 1am before you finally collapse into bed. Or should you go to the hotsprings, go for a hike, or attend a discussion? Is that concert worth going to or should I watch the suggested film for class?
     I realize this seems silly now. To have even had those options at my international boarding school in a castle nestled into the mountains of New Mexico is to have lived a dream. Each moment I spent at UWC shaped me in some way, whether it was laying around being lazy on a Saturday morning, discussing global affairs at dinner, waking up early to go running and catch the sun hit the tops of the pines, or studying for IB exams. And it was all worth it. There was never a wrong decision because for all of those moments, I came out of this experience as a stronger, more self-aware, more educated (hopefully...) individual. The whole point of UWC is to have had those late dayroom conversations that challenged me to think beyond my experience, or to have listened to my peers share their cultures in Social Anthropology, or to feel personally connected to both sides of the horror raging in Israel and Palestine because I had dorm-mates from each nation and I know they're experiencing it firsthand. For every time we chose to skip the homework (temporarily of course...), we inadvertently learned twice as much from each other.
     Time slipped by this semester. The hours dragged before college decisions were released, and in the final days they sprinted by faster than a cheetah on redbull. And now its done. We walked the stage, received our blue-covered diplomas, waved for our parents's cameras, zipped the suitcases. We held each other close because we didn't know when we'd next see each other. We laughed. We cried. (And had a really, really, really good time (lyric credits to Macklemore and shoutout to A and Z)).
     UWC was what it was. And it was wonderful. It's said that you never leave UWC, and- at the risk of sounding like a cult- I think that's true. It was unbelievably painful to physically leave a place that was so charged with emotion and memory, so ingrained into who I felt I had become as a person, a place I called "home". But it was also inevitable, and in its own way beautiful. The purpose for meshing so many countries and cultures together is for us to learn from each other and then take pieces of each other with us. For however idealistic and sheltered our bubble seemed, we now share it with everyone we encounter in the real world.
     And somehow we even managed to achieve our IB diplomas- hoorah!
     We have the memories and the knowledge, and we still have each other. There are frequent skype calls, text messages, snapchat photos. And there are many more good times to come. We'll have reunions, and group trips, and we'll always be able to look back on our time together as one of the best times in our lives.
     Oof, I think I've packed enough cheesiness into this post now. In short, I loved it. I look forward to continuing to be a representative of UWC as an alum- agh!- and to doing my experience justice. Especially that one time when we walked back upstairs together.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dropped the Ball

Oops. It's clearly been two months since my last post, and I apologize for this lapse. It's been a very, very busy semester. Just to give you an idea:

* Annual Conference
* MAAD- Middle East, Asia, and Australia Day
* Midterms
* Project Week- Working with No More Deaths near the Arizona/Mexico border (something I definitely want to write a separate blog about!!)
* Trial Exams- basically practice IB exams for the second years
* College decisions
* Holi
* US Applicants on campus for admission selection process
* Blind Date

and much more! I'm trying to live in the moment (as I continue to juggle school and CAS of course) and enjoy my remaining time at UWC. In less than six weeks the Class of 2014 will have graduated from UWC and begin the rest of our lives. It's exciting of course, but also a bit frightening. However I have faith that we're all going on to great adventures; in the meantime- many more good times here in Montezuma.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Community Building

     The past couple weeks have been pretty exciting here at UWC-USA. Two weekends ago we held our Annual Conference (#conf2014), this year centered around the theme of non-violence and social justice. Through workshops, presentations, and casual chats with guest speakers, our students, as well as visitors from all over New Mexico and even Mexico, heard stories and words of wisdom relating to various social issues. Speakers included Oscar nominated film-maker and UWC alum Rick Rowley (of the film Dirty Wars), artist and volunteer Lily Yeh, Kingian peace-activist Kazu Haga, groups from the Beehive Collective and No More Deaths, as well as others.
     I personally really enjoyed this year's conference. With a theme much more related to what I want to do, it was incredible to see Rick's film and hear him speak about his experience in the Middle East and parts of Africa. He spoke of other trips in Central America and protests and movements in the U.S. (Independent Media Project) and the power of the people to demand honest news coverage. Last semester some of us also got to see Jeremy Scahill (the subject of Dirty Wars) speak in Santa Fe and it was intriguing to see one story portrayed through so many perspectives. Lily's work abroad and in the U.S. has dealt with community building through art. She spoke of working in New Jersey, China, and Rwanda and described the power visual art can have in healing and inspiring.
     This past weekend we also had guests, but this time for Alumni Connect- an annual gathering of six alums who speak with students about what they do and life after (or rather away from) UWC. We had five different classes and three decades represented, with alums working in government, feminist activism, social justice, the military, journalism, and healthcare. In classes and an evening panel, the alums shared stories and advice. As a second year, it was good to hear that leaving UWC does not mean ending this experience, but rather living how we've been taught, continuing to serve others, and pursuing our passions.
     Finally, some bittersweet news. This past week has been one that has challenged our community more than any other time this year. I think that as we're so privileged to be studying the world through our peers, experiencing these great events like Annual Conference and Alumni Connect, and often occupied by CAS and classes, it's easy to forget that we are in many respects just a bunch of kids. I won't go too much into what happened, but basically it came to light that our community (students, faculty, administration) are not as closely knit as we should be. There were many ways this issue could have been handled, and in the end the strategy was, in my opinion, effective. In a show of solidarity and will to change, maybe two thirds of the student body collected informally to discuss methods of community building and how to raise the overall trust and spirit on campus. Though challenging, I think that we as a student body proved that we have the power and the capability to mold our experience into one that is best for ourselves, for our community, and for our mission.
     It's been a busy fortnight, but one that has been largely positive. I look forward to the improvements we'll make as a school and the weekend as MAAD draws near.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Helping Others

One more plug for a friend. My co-year at Maastricht (UWC Netherlands) is working on a project against human trafficking. He and some friends will be walking from Maastricht, through Belgium, to Luxembourg City in an effort to raise awareness and funds to combat trafficking. He's asked for some help to spread the word and possibly raise donations. Please help him out and support this great cause:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Support Systems

Just a quick message to encourage anyone who believes in the UWC movement to support us. Shelby Davis (our wonderful sponsor) has offered to match the donations raised in 2014 up to one million dollars! The donations will be used to fund scholarships, the new agro-ecology research station, student initiatives, and other projects. Our mission is to "make education a force to unite people, nations, and cultures for peace and a sustainable future". Help us make a difference:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

On the Horizon

Hi everyone, this blog is going to be a little different. Instead of telling you about an experience, I'd like to ask all of you for a bit of help.

As this is my last semester, I've been applying to universities and thinking a lot of about my future. I'm interested in studying International Relations, and hoping to work in a position that will allow me to make a difference in this world (yes, I understand that phrase is grossly overused, nonetheless, it describes my goal), be it policy-making, diplomacy, security, environmental work, government, NGOs, NPOs, international development, you name it. I've recently spoken with some acquaintances who've described their respective careers, very different but both totally plausible with my path as I currently envision it. Through these conversations I have come to realize just how important a summer internship would be- to gain experience and to learn what it really means to work in any of the aforementioned areas.

Here's where you all come in. Though I've been considering internships individually, UWC has taught me that connections can be quite beneficial. So I'm asking anyone who reads my blog for any ideas or suggestions or connections to any summer internships. Though I will only be a high school graduate, know that I will be committed and engaged in any opportunity I might find myself, that I will strive for success, learn quickly and eagerly, and dedicate myself wholeheartedly to any endeavor. I hope to find a position that will be both educational for me as well as a task through which I can feel mentally stimulated and challenged.

So if you're looking for some help this summer, or know of anyone who might be, or just have any suggestions, please comment below or email me ( Thank you!