Lured by the promise of Pizza Express and the chance to visit “the heart of British democracy,” 18 Atlantic College students boarded a coach to the House of Commons in London.
We were headed towards an event that served primarily to thank our sponsors and hopefully attract new donors. As I settled in for my four-hour coach trip, I surveyed my companions, in that moment seeing them not just as peers, but people with whom I wanted to remain friends for life.
I smiled, feeling immensely grateful for the experiences and relationships I’ve enjoyed because of UWC. I smiled also because I remembered that I had heard about UWC quite by chance from a distant family friend.
At first, the idealistically fuelled mission behind the movement seemed at odds with my humble upbringing in Jamaica’s rural northeast. The concepts of peace and sustainability resonated with my core values, but I had never realistically considered them as the basis for a career.
In what was probably the bravest decision of my life, I seized the opportunity (or risk) to finish my secondary schooling in a foreign land, surrounded by strangers, under an educational system radically different from my own. Since then, a life I would never have envisioned for myself has become the definitive two years of my life.
My experience has been possible only through the funding provided by the Dorothy Burns Charitable Trust. So for me, it was an honour to play a role in ensuring the continued and increased support of sponsors. In relaying this gratitude, three of my peers, Mohammed Akel, Joelle Bohringer, and Eve Sharples, recounted the impact UWC has had on their lives.
Their stories were similar to my own: UWC had given them the confidence and skills to translate their hopes into concrete plans for the future. After these touching speeches, we mingled with those in attendance, including high profile guests such as the Rt Hon Alun Cairns (MP), Secretary of State for Wales. A couple hours later, we were back on the coach, heading towards a school we called home. I was already dreading the early morning codes of the following day, but I fell asleep with a smile on my face, satisfied that it had been a rewarding night.
- By Laura Logan second year student (UWC Atlantic College, class of 2018).