Saturday, September 14, 2013

Aren't we in a Drought?

New Mexico is dry. Like very dry. Like last year the city came to our school to give a presentation about conserving water because we're in a Stage 2 drought. We're big on water conservation, we have shower timers, and our field is watered with recycled sewage water (so don't play in the sprinklers).

But if you've been paying attention to the news this past week, you might know that New Mexico is experiencing extreme rain and flood conditions, something that hasn't been seen here in over fifty years. Our school sits above a river (more of a small stream most of the year) that has now flooded and completely closed down any access into or out of the school. Some are joking that we now have a moat for our castle.

On a serious note, the huge surge of water has actually caused quite a bit of damage. One of the farms next to the school lost all of their animals and I was told some people were evacuated from the area.

As we're cut off, no one can get on campus. Though we were all kind of worried about this at first, it's turned out to be kind of nice. The kitchen isn't staffed, so teachers are being asked to help cook, and the 6 dorms are rotating through cleaning duties. It has actually created a very nice sense of community, and, unexpectedly, we've had awesome food. I, one of our RTs from Palestine, cooked dinner last night and it was incredible; definitely the best caf food we've had.

So, if you're a parent, don't worry, your child is safe and very well fed! We're riding out the storm, hoping it won't rain any more, and waiting for the sun to come back. On the bright side, maybe we're finally out of the drought stages, yeah?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The UWC Conversation

The "UWC Conversation" is something each of us hears about when we come to UWC, something we all look forward to, and are a little intimidated by. You can't plan one of these and you never know when a UWC Conversation might pop up or with whom you'll be talking. Actually, you probably won't even know you've had one until after it's finished.

I've only had two of these kinds of chats before, but today I, very, very unexpectedly had a third. At lunch my Extended Essay (EE) advisor called me over to talk about my rough draft. I'm writing about American involvement in the creation and initial success of the United Nations. In the last couple of months I'd gotten kind of bored with the topic but working and talking with J reminded me why I was originally so excited about it. We talked through some of the points of my thesis and my paper, the framing, structure, just general essay stuff. It was very helpful and definitely got me back on track, but it was after we had finished that we really got into the global implications of the ideas I'm discussing.

As I was collecting my things J asked:

"Do you think the United Nations is a model for a global government?"

Whoa. Ummm, ok..."No."

"Why not?"

Challenging me on every statement and thought, J and I worked through the implications, the problems, and the reality of the global political playing field. Is a global government possible? Would countries even agree to such an organization? Something like the UN but with power; are you suggesting arming the United Nations? What about the immense social and cultural differences? What about countries who want to be on our level, or have our "standard"? What about the environment, how do we deal with that? What about no country wanting to be submissive to any other organization? And how do we, as two individuals in the middle of the United States even go about suggesting, let alone being able to act, on such ideas?

Somewhere in the middle I said something like:

"Gosh, I can't even begin to think of everything involved in such a complex idea."

"Yeah, but you are a Second Year at the United World College."

Oh yeah. No pressure or anything, but those are the kinds of questions I'm being taught to consider, the kind of problems I should be striving to solve.

In a way this conversation was a reality check. Sure, my classes and EE and activities here matter, but why am I ultimately here? Where am I headed?

These are the questions I, as a Second Year, should be keeping in mind. What differences can I make in the future?

Needless to say it was a very enlightening afternoon. You know, the usual, sitting in the Dining Hall of a castle in the mountains of New Mexico, solving world issues, just another day at UWC.