Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Holiday

     Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with your family and/or friends :)
     This year I have so much to be thankful for- my family, my friends, all of the opportunities I've been granted and especially that of UWC. These past few months have been, as you've all read, incredible. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by so many interesting, brilliant, funny people who have taught me so much and shared their worlds and perspectives with me. And I have to also thank my family and friends at home, without whom I wouldn't be here and who have supported me throughout this adventure- I'll see you guys in just three short weeks!
     So how exactly does Thanksgiving work at UWC? Well, most of the students here have never celebrated or even heard of the holiday, and even those who have can't completely explain what Thanksgiving is. The week leading up to the break, we discussed as a school what Thanksgiving is, shared a little bit of history (which, let me tell you, I have never heard with so much debate. You would not believe the amount of students who immediately take the Native American's side and fiercely admonish the pilgrims), and shared what a normal Thanksgiving looks like for American families- eating, sleeping, and football.
     Some students stayed on campus but a lot of the American students traveled home for the long weekend and took friends with them. Other students spent the week with their "getaway families" (I think I've mentioned those before- local families who host students for holidays and sometimes take them on outings or just to spend time with a real family). And a few students, myself included, spent the weekend with friends in one of the larger cities nearby.
     Five of my friends and I spent a few days in Albuquerque and had a wonderful time. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency in downtown ABQ and spent our time catching up on sleep, eating yummy food (I have to admit, we had Italian food for Thanksgiving dinner. But it was fantastic (and one of the only places open)), doing a little Black Friday shopping (a first for all of us, even the Americans), going to movies, and just walking around the city and having a great time. Being off campus with UWC people was SO MUCH FUN. We all got along really well, were responsible and flexible, and, quite honestly, I'm extremely proud of us. This was the first trip any of us had taken without any adult supervision and we managed to make it through without losing anyone, without anyone getting hurt, without anything being stolen or lost, without arguments, and we even got back to school all by ourselves. And besides, how many high school students have the chance to spend Thanksgiving with friends from Turkey, the UK (x2), and Singapore in the middle of New Mexico. Not many.
     I'm so thankful that the trip went so well, that I could be surrounded by so many good friends, and that I still have a year and a half to have more experiences like this.
Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Class of 2015, We Want YOU!

     I hope that from all of my crazy anecdotes you have all gathered that I absolutely LOVE UWC and that this is one of the best experiences I have ever had or will ever have. And I want to share it. The Class of 2015 applications have just come out and I strongly, strongly encourage all of you to tell your children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, friends, neighbors, classmates, coworker's friend's children's classmates, dogs, and anyone else you can possibly think of. (Actually though, sorry, we do not, yet, accept dogs. So don't tell your dogs, we don't want to hurt their feelings.) But seriously. Facebook, tweet, instagram, blog, email, text, call, message, pin, tumble, and any other form of social media you can use, use it- get the word out!

You can find information about UWC here:

Info about UWC-USA here:

And the APPLICATION info here:
and here:

And I would especially love to have a state-mate, language-mate, or country-mate so if you're from Kansas, speak Russian, or are from Ukraine, I'm talking to you! :)

Please apply, it can't hurt, and it really is such an incredible program! If you need any help or advice feel free to email or facebook me or just comment here. Best of luck!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


     A couple things happened last week that made me realize how close of a family we are here at UWC and just how much I love it.

Contacts, Elephant Poop, and The Wizard of Oz
     Once upon a time, in a land far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far away (so in New Mexico) there was this amazing school with lots of cool kids. One day, two of the students, Z and J, decided to play a joke and steal S's contacts so that he would have to wear his glasses the next day. It was all fun and games until S recruited A1 and A2 to exact revenge. The three boys stole whole bags and boxes of Z and J's things as well as Z's $10,000 cello. The girls got it back, but knew they would have to retaliate. But how to do so without making the whole thing escalate even more? Hmmm.... what could be better than physically messing with the boys...? Yup, that's right- psychological warfare (MWAHAHAHAHA). So the girls baked the boys perfectly good chocolate chip cookies and gave A1 and S the cookies. But the boys, having eaten the cookies and tricked by Z and J's mad acting skills, threatened that if the cookies made them sick they would come poop on the girls' floors. But the girls weren't worried. There was nothing in the cookies, so there should have been no problem, right?
     The boys, and you have to give them a little credit, were pretty creative. They sent the girls a little... "present" in the mail. 
     One Saturday morning, about a week later, J went to the post office and was surprised to receive a package. She was really excited because hey, getting mail is fun, but when she opened the package she was really confused. It contained a plastic baggy full of some unknown brown and green stuff and was labeled "Elephant Poop-". 
     (I'm not even kidding. Look it up, you can send cow, elephant, and gorilla poop in different quantities. Yeah, I know, who in the world thinks of this kind of stuff?!)
     So anyways, J received this completely anonymous gift. Her roommate T said she knew who had sent it and wouldn't tell but confirmed it was someone on campus. Z received an identical package two days later (which we've hidden for emergency revenge purposes, so watch your backs.... :)). Now, unfortunately, S and A1 are pretty good actors too and swore they hadn't sent the poop. 
     Conveniently, about another week later, J had to go home for a bit, but very few people on campus actually knew why. So Z and J came up with a brilliant plan- spread the story that J was leaving because she was feeling bullied. The culprits would feel guilty and come confess. (I know, we're devious and brilliant, what can I say?) Now, Z and J fully expected the pranksters to come forward sometime within the following week. But, thanks to the wonderful gossiping skills of 200 teenagers, it took only two hours. 
     S and A approached the girls as they were walking up to the castle. They were distraught and beseeched J not to leave because of their silly joke. They swore they meant no harm, that they'd write letters to J's parents, and begged she stay. Have I mentioned Z and J are brilliant actresses? Mhmm. 
     But after about an hour they felt really guilty so they explained it all and the boys took it well and agreed the girls had won this one. 
     Have I confused you enough yet? I said this was an example of the UWC family, right? Hold on, we're getting there.
     While J was home, she received a message from one of the boys saying they'd gotten her something else. She was terrified. (well not really, but come on, that sounds a little more dramatic.) Had they gotten 100 bugs to set free in her room? More poop? Stink bombs? 
     They approached J in the caf one day when she was finally back and said "There's a present waiting for you in your room, and its even better that your dorm's water system is broken, hahaha". WHAT. J ran to her room. And do you know what she found?

Yup. So it turned out that the evil boys actually did have hearts and were really sweet and creative :)

Thanks S and A- yall are awesome and its so good to be "home"!

Family Looks Out for Each Other
     This one's a little different and can't really be told as a fairytale story.
     Last week a bunch of us students took the usual Wednesday bus to Wal-Mart to stock up on necessities (mac n cheese... nail polish... ya know, things we really just can't live without). The trip was pretty normal and everything was going well until we got to the check out and went outside. A man, dressed all in dark clothing covered in a trench coat kept walking around. He didn't have any items from the store, walked in and out of the checkout aisles a few times and, when we were all standing around outside waiting for the bus to come back, kept walking up to the group. Now, maybe there wasn't really any need for alarm, but you would not believe how well the group responded. The bigger boys fanned out nonchalantly, making sure no one was by themselves (One of the boys, L, who was near me was one of the first to notice and said dutifully, almost resignedly, "I'll go stand by B" (a girl who was sitting by herself near where the man was)), everyone tightened up the cluster, watching the man's every move. I don't think he was completely well, as he mentioned some rather disturbing information about a younger brother, and I can tell you a lot of us were a little spooked, but just to see all of the students ready to protect each other was incredible. We really are a family and family looks out for each other. Love you guys :)

Monday, November 12, 2012


     If I have talked to you at all in the past month or so, there is a good possibility that I've mentioned NAD. Here at UWC we are all about sharing our cultures with each other, so each of the five regions puts together a cultural day. The five regions are North America (NAD- the "D" stands for "day"), the Caribbean and Latin America (CLAD), Europe (END), Africa (AND), and the Middle East, Asia, and Australia (MAAD). Over the course of the two years, each region is celebrated and the festivities include events throughout the week (movies, dances, for NAD this week showing the election), Global Issues (presentations and discussions about current issues in the region or/and on the global level), a dinner, a show, and a party. All of this is organized almost completely by the students from the respective region, with two faculty supervisors who basically make sure we don't kill each other or offend anyone, and the kitchen staff who makes sure we don't burn the castle down. Because, ya know, that would be bad. It's a LOT of work and a LOT of fun.
     I was really lucky, especially as a first year, to get to act as a general leader for the show. We've been working on NAD since September and, through all of the meetings, rehearsals, "disagreements", and sleepless nights, it's been tough. But I am so, so, so proud of all of our hard work because the entire week was incredible.
     We did a "walk-in" on Monday night where all of the students involved made an entrance into the dining hall during dinner. We had a guy dress up as an astronaut and walk in to the caf with an American flag and plant it like Neil Armstrong did on the moon. Canada followed carrying a flag on two hockey sticks. The Bahamas carried their flag on a fishing pole. (Yes, sometimes its fun to uphold stereotypes.) Then everyone else ran in and danced around for a while. It was fun!
     Tuesday we watched the elections, of course. You can go back to my last post and read all about that.
     Wednesday the movie Forrest Gump was shown in the IT Center.
     Thursday we held a "Dance Fun". I think I've already explained that, but as a quick recap its basically an event to teach everyone specific, usually cultural/popular dances. We taught Soulja Boy (more than just the one part everyone knows) and Cadillac Ranch, which is a Canadian line dance.
     Friday was Global Issues. We got to hear some students speak about their families' immigration stories. It was so cool- I'd had no idea that some of the students had such diverse backgrounds! Of the six students who spoke, they represented Ireland and the UK, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Colombia, and Mexico but were all representing the U.S. here at school. They also discussed the trends and general experiences of these nationalities' immigration to the U.S. and how their families' stories have influenced them. Seriously, I love this school.
     Saturday was the culmination of all of the hard work and included the dinner, the show, and the party. For the dinner, the food leaders organized a '50s diner theme and cooked (for >300 people, mind you) mac n cheese, rice and jambalaya, chili, corn chowder, corn bread, apple pie, pecan pie, and rootbeer floats. The dining hall was decorated like a diner, a couple waiters moved around on skates, everyone dressed up (which was awesome, you'd be surprised how well 200 kids in the middle of nowhere can throw together historically accurate outfits within half an hour), there were music and swing dance performances, and it was just SO FUN. They really pulled it off well.
     And the show? Well I am completely biased but, in my opinion as well as from a lot of audience members and teachers, it was the best NAD ever and one of the best cultural shows too. The show was recorded so I'm including the link if y'all wanna watch :) The streaming quality isn't the best but there's some really great skits in the show and I totally encourage you guys to watch some of it (it's a little long so you may not get through all of it in one sitting). There's humour, and talent, and thought-provoking stuff all combined and it just ended up so well. YAY!

     After the show all of the students headed up to the student center. Guess what the party theme was? '50s Diner? No. Party in the USA? Nope. '80s?  Uh-uh. Carnival? Nah. Beach Party? Try again.
Out of guesses? That's ok, you'll never guess :)
Not even kidding. I have NO idea how administration allowed this, but they did. Now you're probably thinking "ha, jokes on them, must have been a disaster". Give us some credit, we're more than just a bunch of crazy- sleepdeprived- teenagers- who- have- been- cooped- up- for- weeks- working- on- a- show- and- just- need- to- let- out- a- little- stress- and- who- were- handed- bottles- of- paint- and- set- loose- on- each- other- in- a- castle- that- took- $10.5- million- to- restore.
Wait. No, that sounds about right.
But let me explain how we pulled it off- one part of the student center was completely sheathed in plastic. Like completely. There was only one way to get in or out, the paint was brought out in small quantities staggered, it was all water-based and watered down so that it dried fast and should come out of clothing (I haven't tried to wash my clothes yet...), and students weren't allowed to leave without toweling down. IT. WAS. A. BLAST. and the cleanup only took about 20 min. I know, surprise!
     So you have to admit, you wish you'd been here because NAD sounds like it was amazing. Well, what can I say, it kinda actually was :) Don't get me wrong, it really took a lot of work, a lot of time, and there was no dearth of stress, emotional breakdowns, or power struggles. But in the end, UWC makes education a force to unite people, nations, and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. And I think we not only showed this and pulled it off, but really rocked the whole thing :) NAD 2012!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


     So I'm sure many of you are currently sitting in front of your TVs watching the votes come in or hitting refresh on your computer screens. Whether you're voting blue or red, you have to admit this whole election process is pretty exciting, confusing and/or frustrating maybe, but exciting. But I have to say, I'm a little sorry for you- you don't get to watch this whole process surrounded by 200 brilliant, politically-aware young minds. This school prepares us to be the leaders of tomorrow, and there can be no dissension to the fact that we're interested in our leaders today.
     Students have been discussing and debating the elections since the beginning of the semester. It's been intense. With 98% of the campus vehemently democratic, the republicans have been trying to make themselves heard, and both sides have been campaigning with the party offices in town. There are probably hundreds of _____ for Obama posters around campus, and maybe a couple Romney posters too.
     It's extremely interesting to hear the opinions of students who will actually be affected by the changes that occur after this election. Both the foreign and education policies affect individuals on campus, and, being so close to college and legal adulthood, there's a lot of concern about the results.
     Speaking of results, we heard a presentation this morning about how we actually get the results- mainly dealing with the extremely strange American system of the electoral college. I'll be totally honest, I've never really understood how the whole things works, especially how a candidate can win the popular vote and lose the electoral vote, but I think I understand it a little better now. And so do a lot of the international students.
     Ohp, the votes just came in for the west coast and its looking like Obama may just win this time around. Surprise!
     I guess we'll keep watching and hopefully know soon.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A New Perspective

     As many of you know, this past week I've been at home. I had to come back to deal with some medical problems, but I'm doing much better now (thanks largely to all of the support provided by my wonderful family and friends- thanks, love you guys!) and absolutely cannot wait to get back to school!
     I've been asked several times how it feels to be back home, and quite honestly.... its extremely weird. For one, I wasn't supposed to be home until Christmas, so I was mentally prepared for that and now that I'm home it feels like it should be winter and smell like peppermint and cinnamon everywhere. (Instead its nearly 80* outside...) It's been like a reverse culture shock. I've gotten so used to being surrounded by 210 kids from 84 different countries speaking something like 50 different languages, in a castle in the mountains, with a very structured schedule and a day that never ends (25/8!). Here I've been largely home-bound, I've seen some friends, but not very many and for short periods of time, and, with everyone at work and school during the day, I have been out of my mind bored- not that all the homework I brought with me isn't riveting material....
     And I know I shouldn't be complaining, a lot of the kids at school would kill to go home for a week. I realize I'm lucky to even have had the opportunity to come home and be treated and see my family, and it's been good- there are definitely things I've missed. Besides family and friends, my doggy, having my own room (not that I don't love my roomie, even when she steals my mac 'n cheese ;)), home-cooked food, being able to use a stove (have I told you guys we don't have stoves on campus? At least not in the dorms- its a fire hazard), having time to watch tv and sleep. There are definitely some pros.
     But I've realized that, even though it feels like nothing has changed here, a lot has changed. My family has a new routine, the church got new icons and there are people I've never seen before, my friends have new inside jokes and talk about games, dances, and parties that I didn't attend. It's weird. I left and life moved on. As it should and as, in theory, I knew it would. In practice it's a little harder to grasp.
     But I've also realized just how much UWC and all of my new friends have become a part of my life and that I have changed. I'd been told I would, but in just two months I didn't think I could become so different. It's not that I'm really different,  maybe just that different things are important to me and, as my mom says, my world got a little bigger.
     So it's definitely been an interesting experience, but I can say without a doubt that I am ready to get back to UWC life, as crazy and busy as it may be!