Last Wednesday we had the opportunity to have an hour's catch up with first year student Patrick Oketcho, to see how he has been finding his Atlantic College experience so far...
Q: How are you finding the experience so far?
"If I had to compare the education here to the education back home it is very different, I haven’t been in the IB process before so I have found it really interesting to study. At home in Uganda the way I used to study is quite different, you would be taught for two years, and then at the end of the two years you would take an exam assessing everything the course covered. It didn’t always give me a clear understanding of the whole course, whereas here, if you are doing an EE, you can pick something you are interested in. The IB also teaches you that it is not all about the studying, you have activities like community service to do, and the physical activity which keeps me fit!"
Patrick plays floorball (similar to hockey), which he had never played before coming to the College, “I enjoy it so much that I wish I could play it every day.” His community service is Gateways which takes place on a Tuesday in Bridgend. Gateways in a community centre where disabled people come together to spend their evenings together. At Gateways Patrick plays games and spends quality time with the visitors.
Q: What is it like to study with students who are from all over the world?
“Listening to the discussions in class is really interesting, people have many different perspectives and if you combine those ideas together you can come out with some really great ideas and solutions. I think it is a really good experience to learn with people who come from different parts of the world, I hadn’t learnt with other international students before, so being in a diverse class is really interesting."
Q: How did you hear about the UWC movement?
"I hadn't heard about the UWC movement or UWC Atlantic College until two weeks before the deadline. I applied to the Ugandan National Committee and then the next day I reported to my teacher that I was applying to a UWC. During the selection process they told us to write a list of the schools which you would like to come to, and I put UWC Atlantic College as my first choice."
Patrick explains that when the National Committee had told him that he had received a scholarship and was coming to UWC Atlantic College, that it felt like a dream, "I was so excited to be travelling outside of my country, I wanted to learn how studies and academics are done outside of Uganda. I kept googling the College and everything looked so amazing. The castle, the student life, and the videos - I was very excited to know that I was going to come here."
Q: How did your friends and family react when they found out that you were coming here?
Patrick describes how his parents were very happy with the news, “When I told my friends, they didn’t believe it, they thought that I was lying to them!” Patrick expresses how he was one of the top students in his previous school and how he was always telling his friends about the importance education and why they should carry on studying – therefore the majority of his friends returned to study their A Levels, whilst Patrick was on his way to Wales for two years.
Patrick stays in regular contact with his friends from his district, who are always asking after him and asking how he is getting on at the College. In the summer break of 2018, Patrick will be going back to his previous school in Tororo, to inform the students about his experience at UWC Atlantic College so far, and about the application process of joining the UWC movement.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your life in Uganda and what the Tororo district is like?
"I am from the district of Tororo which is a four hour drive from the capital city of Kampala. Tororo is one of the oldest districts in Uganda, mainly because every year new districts are developed. It is one of the oldest, but in terms of development it is really slow." When asking Patrick about the schools in the district, he describes how the schools are very far away from people’s homes because there are very few schools in the district, so many children who wish to attend school have to walk long and sometimes dangerous distances to get to school.
"During my primary education,my home was very far away from my school so it would take a long time to get there. However during my secondary education, I managed to get a scholarship to be in a boarding school in the Tororo district, so I didn’t have to walk the long distances anymore.”
Q: How are you finding living in Wales?
Firstly Patrick comments on the weather, and how Wales is much colder than Uganda! However, Patrick explains that it isn't necessarily a bad thing, prior to Patrick starting at the College Uganda had a long period of drought, where it hadn't rained in 3-4 months, making the climate very hot and dry. He explains how living in Wales is great and he is enjoying his experience of living outside of his country for the first time. Patrick also describes how when he first arrived in Wales, he found the food a little difficult to get used too, but after three months he is successfully getting used to the British cuisine!
Since coming to the College Patrick has been supported by the Vale for Africa charity, who have provided day trips, over night stays, clothes, stationary and food for Patrick. Whilst discussing his relationships with the Vale for Africa team he says, "The Vale for Africa team are really nice and are very committed in what they are doing, they really want to ensure that the student they are supporting is happy." He elaborated on a highlight so far which was a trip to the Cardiff City Stadium to watch a football match with the Chair of the organisation, Gareth Kiddie.
Q: What has been the highlight of you first three months at the College?
"I would say that the highlight of the first three months was the induction camp in August, I really enjoyed surfing! I had never surfed before, the sea was really cold but it was very enjoyable. I have also enjoyed meeting lots of people from different places, I like to talk to them and hear about their different perspectives on things and how things are done in their country. Especially in lessons when you are having discussions about different countries, and you can hear from the people who are from the country we are discussing, you can find the truth for yourself which is really nice."
Q: If you could say one thing to the people who have funded your scholarship what would you say?
“I would say thank you very much because I did not expect to be here today, at the point when I received the news about the scholarship, there was a bad situation at home where my parents couldn’t raise all of the money for the upcoming terms in my secondary school. It has always been my dream to get a scholarship, I have never wanted to see my parents paying for my fees, so I have always worked very hard in my studies to become eligible for a scholarship. So I really was very happy to hear that I been successful in securing a scholarship to come to Atlantic College.”
Patrick concludes the interview by explaining his passion for the subjects of Chemistry and Math, he also informs us of his plans to study Chemical Engineering when he graduates from UWC Atlantic College, in a University in the U.S, Canada or the U.K.
- Interview of Patrick Oketcho (class of 2019, from Uganda)