Syuen and Critical Engagement

June 24, 2021

I’m Syuen, I’m from Malaysia and I graduated from UWC Maastricht in 2018. Looking back, my 2 years at UWCM truly felt like an experience like no other but most of all, it was home, made up of the beautiful people who I will forever be grateful to have met and to hold so close to my heart. I never know exactly how to best summarize my UWC experience but for starters, it was an adventurous journey, filled with highs, lows and everything in between, that created the best moments we all grew from. 

Since graduation, I have been exploring my passions in film, education, youth development and environmental justice through projects, internships, and other opportunities in those areas. These days, I mostly focus on spending time with my family, working on projects with Architects of Diversity (a UWCx initiative that aims to bridge communities and identity groups across Malaysia) and making the most out of every (stay-home) day by spending time on hobbies! 

I was first introduced to Critical Engagement when I was a participant during Intro Week back in September 2016. I remember Intro Week being quite difficult for me and it was CE that reminded me why I was there. It was one of the first opportunities to live the mission and get to know my peers – I even met some of my closest friends during CE! I really got to reflect deeply on myself, of those around me and of the world while listening to the thoughts, feelings and experiences of others and sharing my own. The program has really played a fundamental role in my personal growth by empowering me with the knowledge and skills needed to engage in sensitive conversations and carry out subsequent action on issues that are plaguing modern-day society.

With that being said, I was super excited when Ell reached out to me and to receive an email with a call for facilitators for Critical Engagement. I ended up being a facilitator for CE UWC-CSC and for the first two sessions of CE UWCM. I think my favorite parts were meeting the participants and sharing the space with them as they engage in these very important conversations through the amazing material that the CE team worked so hard to create, and of course, meeting and learning from the wonderful and very inspiring team that I got to be a part of as a facilitator. 

In terms of UWCM, I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to facilitate the first two sessions! The nature of online delivery definitely brought some challenges, especially for a program with material that can really benefit from being together in a physical space as a group. Having said that, it was lovely to listen to the participants share their thoughts, watch them take charge of their own learning and be determined to make the most out of the given circumstances. I think a similarity across generations would be that everyone is on different journeys with the material and content, but no matter where you are in that, there’s always something you can give and take away from CE. 

Having found myself getting involved in a number of UWC alumni initiatives since graduation, I’m really grateful for all that I’ve learned (and continue to learn) from the inspiring community and for all the opportunities I’ve had to put my values into action and live purposely through every day. I think reaching out is always a great first step, because there are many who would be more than happy to connect, support however they can or give a warm welcome.