Alumni Machi and Victoria coming back to UWCM to live in residences

July 13, 2022

Machi Shiiba, Class 2019
Victoria Gutierrez, Class 2017

Can you please introduce yourself to those who do not know you?

V: My name is Victoria. I am from Bolivia and Italy, and I graduated from UWC Maastricht in 2017.
M: I am Machi, I am from Japan and I graduated from UWC Maastricht 2019.

Now, you are back at UWC Maastricht. What brought you here?

V: I came as part of the program called “Alumni in Residence” so I’m the first alum to come back to live in the residence for two weeks, hang out with students and get to know students. They have been left alone since DP2s have graduated so they are trying to get a feel for how the community feels. I came in to talk about my experience, what I have been doing, and do events and keep them entertained.

M: At first it was a bit weird to be back on campus, there were many new faces but then I realized that there are still some people that I do know, some teachers and staff. After a few days I got to know a lot of students and they were so welcoming, so it was very nice to be back.

Let’s go back a little bit, what have you been up to in the last years?

V: I went to St. Olaf college for a bachelor’s degree with a double major in political science and sociology/anthropology. It was really fun and there were a lot of UWC students there, so I didn’t feel I was too far from the community. Then, I worked a bit for the St. Olaf college as well. After that, I moved around a bit and I’m back in Amsterdam now, and I will be doing my master’s at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

M: I have just finished my bachelor’s in public health in the University College Leiden in the Hague. I am returning to Japan for a couple of weeks and then I will move to the US to do my master’s.

What did you think about the school? Has it changed a lot? What did you do when back on campus?

V: I think it’s just a different perspective when you are coming in as a graduate. It feels different but it’s also because you are not involved in all the activities. For the space, it has changed a lot and it’s much nicer. The cafeteria is really nice and makes it feel more cozy, warm, and welcoming. You don’t only associate with eating meals but also just using the space and meeting with people. I think the food is pretty good. The school in general feels more nature oriented. I feel there are more plants and greener space and it’s cool. I think the energy is the same, but people’s interest has changed. Subjects have changed a lot, it has increased and that makes people have different conversations. I think the students feel less chaotic compared to what it used to be.
M: I mostly interacted with students in mensa and we had many wonderful conversations about their and my UWC experience and beyond. I also joined some regular activities and events such as floor nights or bonfires. I noticed that students are fairly busy with their school work, perhaps more busy than I used to be. I felt that the welcoming atmosphere of UWCM has not changed at all. I did not notice many differences but I did realize how young the students are and how I did not see that while I was a student.

What did you enjoy being back on campus?

V: The first two days were super weird but the residence is really nice. I just really like being in the residential setting. Interacting with students on a daily basis for meals is valuable and you just don’t get it anywhere. It’s just a very different vibe from the US college. I think it is so nice having so many youths around you and it gives you a lot of energy. You see they are so motivated and take everything seriously. I personally kind of forgot to take things seriously. I think that just a deep passion for things even for the small things is a positive energy to be around. It is also nice to remember what it was like to be a student at UWC. Also, it was interesting trying to put me in their shoes and think if they were in my year and I have been friends with these students.

Would you recommend it to others?

V: Yes, I think it would be very nice. I think it’s nice if it’s not graduates who graduated recently because you wouldn’t be able to give a lot of perspectives. I would even say at least for those who graduated three or four years would be nice. I think overall, it’s a nice experience.

M: I would recommend it to all alumni. It was a nice experience for me, and for the students. I would say that it is important that alumni are a little bit older, those who finished their bachelor’s or older, those who have a little bit more life experience to share with the students. It really is for any alumni – the more extroverted and the more quiet and chilled ones – as different students prefer different conversations and activities.