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Scholars 2015-2017

Christel Lim

Hallo! Ich heiße Christel, and as you may have guessed, I’ll be going to UWC Robert Bosch in Germany. One of the first forays into the possibility of a UWC world came when I chanced upon pictures of my senior and her multi-ethnicity friends donning various cultural outfits during a UWC event, splashed all over my Facebook feed. It seemed to be the epitome of racial harmony, when people of all ages, race and religion come together to celebrate and understand each other’s culture. Not to sneer at and mock their differences, but to truly glorify what makes each culture special. While Singapore comprised of many different races, for the last five years of my education, I’d been enrolled in a virtually homogenous Chinese school. It provided undeniably top-notched education, but I yearned for more than just the academic rigour, and wished to be exposed to such an international community. I remember writing that “I would also love to go through the unique learning experiences as well as to be immersed in that same multi-racial environment as my senior now is.”, and incidentally (also very fortunately), I am stoked to see this dream come true; I’ll be attending the same college as her.

It was actually pretty cool how the news that I had received the scholarship was delivered: I was in the midst of the Singapore International Model United Nations (MUN) conference and had literally just lobbied with a couple of girls who were also from United World College when my phone rang. The coincidence was uncanny. I started attending MUNs 2 years ago, which spurred my interest in global affairs and subsequently in international law. From then on, I participated in 5 to date and am very excited to continue in UWCRBC. Representing the delegate from different countries, it intrigued me how lobbying and clout was utilized as well as balancing each countries’ interests. My MUN journey in Singapore ended with a trip to participate in Yale MUN in Korea, where I met many more international delegates and experienced a first taste of international perspectives.

Aside from my rather geeky MUN passion, I enjoy dabbling in almost every activity I can get my hands on. Music has been a huge part of my life I had been born into a family of crazy talented musicians; my mom being a pianist, my oldest brother being a virtuosic violin extraordinaire and playing the electric bass and my second brother, the drums. I don’t think I’ve ever stopped wanting to emulate their musical talent, and my musical journey was kick-started when I first picked up the violin-bow duo at the tender age of five and a half. I guess you could say that on paper, one of my greatest achievements was attaining a second Diploma for violin performance, but I believe the greatest joy of music still remains in performing and enjoying it with amazing company. I once jammed to old tunes with a couple of adults my parents’ age at one of their functions – though we’d never met before, we bonded and had a great time. To me, music is a means of artistic expression; and it constantly astounds me how music can transcend both age and culture, yet embody the essence of each. While I know language barriers will invariably present themselves in UWC, I take comfort in the knowledge that music will always be there to unite people together.

I enjoy basking in the outdoors and physical activities (I’m in love with ultimate Frisbee; enjoy cycling, kayaking, rock climbing, trekking, exploring, hiking but absolutely deplore running haha). Though I may have self-proclaimed two left feet, my not-so-guilty pleasure is attempting to bust some moves and dance. I would like to learn how to play the guitar, drums and sing (I only managed to have a short stint in my junior college’s choir). I understand that this is becoming a very long list of rather random activities, but I cannot overlook my number one love of gastronomic delights. Exploring cafes (sans financial limitation) and cooking with my brother is a lovely past time that I will probably miss. However, I think it’s safe to say that my schoolmates can expect to be the beneficiaries of some baked treats! On an even lighter-hearted note, I am a huge Disney kid and revel in the beauty that is nostalgic Disney movies (like Mulan and The Little Mermaid).

There are many defining aspects of Singapore like how people “chope” seats with tissue packets and its national dish of chicken rice, but what I think I’ll miss is the feeling of singing the national anthem and reciting the pledge (in two languages!) as I have for the last decade; the notion of a place being too “far” meant an hour’s ride from Pasir Ris to Joo Koon via our highly efficient transport system; where “long bus waits” meant half an hour; and perhaps I’ll even miss the humidity! (not)

Leaving this system I’d been getting so accustomed with (and ingrained to think I’d see through until university) and being catapulted to the other side of the world is a huge step wreaked with anticipation and excitement. I don’t know exactly what lies in store for me, but just as how a Frisbee keeps falling, is repeatedly scratched up and fraught with scars, the only way I’m going to soar is to pick myself back up and throw myself into the unknown. Buckle up, it’s adventure time.

Navoneel Chakraborty

Back in 2006, I was transplanted from Calcutta, India, to a hitherto unknown city, named Singapore. The myriad of colours, languages, sounds and smells that initially greeted me were overwhelming. The excitement I felt was beyond comprehension.

At least, that’s what I imagine my first days here to be like. I was eight, and it is difficult to remember my first days here.

Still, I’ve grown to enjoy my time here in sunny old Singapore, and even today, the myriad of colours, languages, sounds and smells that greet me are, while not quite overwhelming, refreshing. It’s amazing how many different cultures live, not only side by side, but together, in Singapore. If anything, it’s exposed me to different people, cultures, ideas, and traditions. It really shows you, how little of our world we really know about. And hey, who enjoys ignorance? I’ve always wanted to discover, and where better to start, than with the people I share this world with?

But not once did I imagine that I’d be going to a school where cultures, traditions, idea’s, and perspectives are blended together to create students who are not only exposed to different people, but are aware of the sheer beauty of that difference. Not once did I imagine that I’d be going to a school where I could kayak, experiment, learn a new language, and explore global issues, all in one day.

And not once, did I imagine, that I could introduce myself as Navoneel Chakraborty, Year 42, Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific.

Su Lynn Eu

Hello everyone, I’m Eu Su Lynn and I will be on my way to UWC-USA real soon. I feel like this isn’t the most comfortable platform to share about myself. But I’ll give it a shot.

I am an ordinary girl. Borderline boring and not at all ambitious. But I still dream. Before UWC, I dreamt of becoming a Kindergarten teacher, or if you prefer something fancier, an Early Childhood Educator. So during my upper secondary school holidays, I would work as an assistant teacher in a children’s art studio as well as volunteer at a community pre-school. That made me realize how much I enjoy teaching kids. They brought a lot of joy, reminded me of how simple life can be and how to live a simple life.

The little ones reflect a lot about us. I felt that the class dynamics and individual character, though improved in many areas such as courtesy and respect, did not change much in adolescents. Yes we grow up to be more refined and cultured, we become more equipped with soft skills, and we learn more about the world. But what happened to “I want that toy! It is Mine!”, “Teacher, It’s not fair” or “I have more stickers than you!” etc. We still express it, but in a different way and different context. So while waiting for the next chapter in my life, I have been tutoring a six and eight year-old Mandarin and assisting a dance teacher in a primary school. And I hope that my journey in UWC-USA would make me grow up even more or at least, realize even more.

Aside from my passion, the next most interesting thing would be that I try to live by the moment. Focusing on the now, not thinking about the past or worrying about the future is a mindset I’m trying to acquire. This does not mean that I don’t reflect on the past or plan for the future. I still do so, but after that moment of reflection or planning, I move on. It’s a simple way of life, yet so difficult to do.

Leaving home is not easy for me. But I am so excited to leave for school where I can see the ‘world’ in one place. I hope to make the most out of this experience!

Shayna Robinson

Hey! I'm Shayna, 17 and I love to write. 

For the longest time, I have wondered how to come across as genuine to future UWC hopefuls and be true to them about an experience I haven't even tasted yet. Then, I realised that we are somehow coincidentally floating on the same boat: both waiting for a dream to happen. And I pray that it does for you too. It is funny that I should be sitting here, pitching an attempt at a micro-biography about the best parts of me, when I was so sure a few months ago that I would be receiving a rejection email. I spent weeks and even months trying to prepare myself for rejection. I guess I am sharing this because excitement always has its downs and perhaps, it is always best not to travel on a one-way wonderland to nowhere.

I can honestly say that my best accomplishment was not the end result (ie. getting awarded the scholarship), but the journey that truly spoke so much more to me. I am rather simple-minded, so I would probably say that the greatest celebration I can host is the fact that I managed to steer clear of false farces and was truly my boring self throughout the application process. It was an eye-opener and a humbling experience to realise how much I do not know and how arduous substantial change is to accomplish. 

I am blessed with many gifts in life, some of the greatest are which my family, friends and home. I like to be grounded in faith, hopefully optimistic and charitable with my time and talents. I love reading, with my interest constantly piqued in law, crime and social issues. I am an aspiring history buff and a beginner debater, a poetry hobbit and a sweet tooth. I love current affairs, global politics and traditional cultures. I love martial arts and gymming regularly. As much as traditional sports do not entice me, I actively watch football, Formula One and wrestling. 

Many of my friends have asked me if I would migrate overseas in the future. I would like to think not, given that this is where my home and family is. I am going overseas now, rather, to gain a greater appreciation of what I already have because of a global and broader perspective that I would gain by being at a UWC. I miss my friends and family, a local Singaporean spirit that is quite unshakeable, in good times or in bad. And that can never be retrieved overseas, especially the hawker food and greenery that I have come to enjoy. I greatly respect and admire my country, especially certain ideals that mean a lot to me. For example, as an individual from a minority race, I love that my ideas and identity is respected too and that there is rightfully no tolerance against racism, bigotry or discrimination. I have been insulted for the colour of my skin or my huge eyes and sharp nose, but I found it gratifying that others from different races would not hesitate to stand up for me and speak up against racism. I see that as the success of a country to have its ideals practiced and not simply preached. I love sightseeing in my own country, how the old is not lost amidst the new, and the respect for architecture and heritage in our country. Nonetheless, I actually do not have very high expectations going into UWC because I believe that you can only expect after you have given your time and effort to building first. I am now embarking on a journey to discover the inner Chinese girl in me. Living for two years in China is sure to change me, and I can't wait. 
With love,
(P.S. That is the way I end every sms to every friend or acquaintance I send a sms to. No kidding. Why not spread a little love? :)

Mindy Taenda

My name is Mindy Taenda and I am going to represent Singapore at UWC Red Cross Nordic. I have exhausted my limited pool of self-praise in the selection process for the scholarship, so I think this should be rather honest. And short. I think.

Here are some simple statements to start!

1) I am ethnically Chinese, despite what my surname suggests.

2) Despite having Teochew and Cantonese blood, I am not in possession of a Teochew or Cantonese tongue.

3) In all honesty, I can hardly even speak in Mandarin.

4) I don't even have a proper Singlish accent! Strange mangled Ameri-Euro-Asian accent is all I have.

5) This is getting pretty negative maybe I should stop with this list.

Honestly, I often find myself questioning my identity as a Singaporean.

"How do I fit into the parameters of what I believe to be a "typical" Singaporean?"

"Is it just a matter of my place of birth?"

"Do I really understand my home country?"

A thousand question marks that flood the mind and two years to find some of my answers. I hope that my UWC journey will be fruitful. I hope that my friends-to-be help me find a conclusion to these question marks, and that I can help them find theirs.

But in the end, questions and hopes are misty, insubstantial creatures. Sweep them aside, and I am left standing on a single, solitary rock. The truth that my name is Mindy Taenda, and I am going to represent Singapore at UWC Red Cross Nordic.