Alycia Diaz Living The UWC Mission

July 1, 2020

It all started when I was in the 9th grade. My parents had gone to a school presentation about curriculum choices their child could take and that is where they first heard about UWC. My parents thought that UWC was a subject I could choose but after doing some research we found out what UWC really stands for. 

I became immediately amazed and very interested in UWC. The missions and values of UWC really fit with my lifestyle and I represent those missions and values on a daily basis. My biggest wish at the time was to be able to attend one of the 18 colleges and … here I am, attending United World College Maastricht, moving on to my second year.  My first year at UWC was truly eye opening. Of course I came across a few challenges including following an education completely in English and having days that are so fully planned that you almost have no free time at all and are living in a completely new environment. But these challenges and everything else about UWC are the things that excite me the most. Meeting new people, some from countries I have never heard of before, having interactive classes, doing outdoor services and participating in many other CAS activities, things I would never have done in my home country, Curaçao. 

My first year at UWC has truly been amazing and it was very unfortunate that it had to end in such an unexpected way. In the beginning of the Covid-crisis and when speculations of the schools closing began, neither me nor my parents really had any worries at first. Coming from a Dutch education prior to UWC we knew how the system works and how keen the government is to keep children in school. But this all changed in an instant. More and more students started leaving the campus and the situation got worse and worse. Suddenly the ticket was booked and I had a flight back to Curaçao the next morning. The borders with Curaçao were actually closed and only people with an ID from Curaçao could go back but somehow I managed to make it onto the plane and here I am back on my home island.

Immediately when I arrived, the situation in Curaçao started to get worse. A few people caught the virus and two weeks after my arrival Curaçao went in a complete lockdown. Like in many other countries this lockdown led to a lot of unemployment and poverty. A large part of the population works in the tourism sector and especially this sector was hit very hard. ‘De VoedselBank’ is a food bank in Curaçao which provides food packages for those in need. I decided to volunteer at the food bank as help was very much needed because of the increasing demand for these food packages. The number of food packages that had to be made weekly increased from 350 to about 5000. The time difference between Curaçao and the Netherlands is six hours. This means that I sometimes have to wake up at 3 AM in the morning to be able to attend the classes. At first this routine was hard to follow but I eventually got used to it. Because it was hard to combine both school and making food packages in the morning I decided to make them myself at home and donate to other private organisations that help the people in need. 

When not being able to leave the house and spending all time at home me and my family started cleaning up the whole house. After doing that we had about 10 boxes full of clothes, games and other stuff we never used which we then donated to other organisations. A lot of other countries are also in a lockdown and most students are also stuck at home probably doing nothing. Cleaning up the house and donating the things you don’t use is one of the many things one can do for the community when stuck at home. I personally really love helping people, especially those of the community I come from. Educating yourself about what is happening around really helps to understand what kind of help is needed and how you can provide this help. UWC promotes this understanding greatly and also encourages everyone to engage with the missions and values. CAS activities at school also develop a lot of skills, skills that came in very handy in this time of crisis where a lot of help is needed. 

Fortunately the situation in Curaçao is now getting somewhat better now that some measures have been lifted. The government has provided more help for those in need and the Food Bank got more volunteers and donations for making the food packages. I wish I could continue to help in my own community but I will be traveling back to The Netherlands in a couple of days to follow a physics course in the summer. Going back to The Netherlands and to DP2 next school year really excites me and I am curious what next year will bring. 

I am really looking forward to seeing all my floormates and friends from campus and not having to wake up at 3 in the morning to follow classes. Besides, of course, keeping up with school and most importantly graduating, I hope to experience an even more amazing second year at UWC, building new friendships and meeting new people and continue to help the community in Maastricht.