When I came to UWC, I knew to expect a tight community. With only 211 students and maybe 30 teachers, all on one campus in the middle of nowhere, it's difficult to not interact with nearly everyone, everyday. What I didn't realize was just how tight it would be.
Relationships on campus are very informal. Everyone calls everyone by their first name, even teachers. Within the first 30 seconds of meeting my Spanish teacher, I used the formal "usted" out of respect and was corrected. While respect is an extremely important aspect of campus life, the idea is that students and teachers are on the same level, without formality blocking individuals from interacting and learning from each other. First years and second years and teachers and staff are on the same level, none of this separation silliness.
As such, everyone gets along so easily. In the cafeteria anyone can sit anywhere with anyone. And it actually happens, all the time. Its so fun. I think I've sat with at least one new person every meal, and its such an easy way to get to know people, to find common ground, and to just have fun. Another fun thing about dinner is birthdays. At dinner, the entire cafeteria sings for the birthday girl/guy and then bangs on the tables and whoops and yells; it's so cool! (Also, today is Z's birthday- Happy Birthday!!)
And the community doesn't just stop there. One thing that happens here ALL THE TIME (and the title of this post) is applause. We applaud EVERYTHING. We sing for your birthday at dinner? Applause. You say there's a soccer game this weekend? Applause. You're announcing what time your club is meeting? Applause. You flipped over your chair at lunch by accident? Applause (and whooping). There's an assembly? We're going to applaud every time a speaker finishes their announcement. We, quite literally, applaud everything. It's hilarious.
All of the positivity and support on campus makes for an incredible environment. I've experienced this kind of community before, mostly at church events and at camp. But those events are usually cut fairly short, at most maybe a week and then everyone spreads out around the country. Here we have a community 24/7 (or as I like to think of it, 25/8), so we can continue to build on our friendships and inside jokes, get to know each other better, find new commonalities, discuss cultural differences. And every day it just gets better, I can't believe we're only a couple weeks in! It's soooo cool, I love it :)
Also, I'd love to hear back from you guys. I'm not really sure how many people are actually reading this (which is fine, it's fun for me to just write it) and some of you have talked to me on facebook, but feel free to comment here and let me know what you think or if you have any questions, comments, concerns, ideas, suggestions, emotions, really anything. I look forward to hearing from you guys!
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