Ana Romero, Class 2023, UWC Maastricht Student for 10 years
July 4, 2023
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Ana Romero. I was born in Madrid, Spain, but shortly after we moved to Paris. In 2013, my family and I moved to Maastricht and ever since then, I was a student at UWC Maastricht. I spent 10 years as a UWC Maastricht student, starting as a Year 4 in Primary.
What was your UWC experience like?
One thing that really stands out to me is the amount of diversity in the classroom. I remember that it was something that really struck me when I first arrived at UWCM. It was rare to have someone of the same nationality sitting next to me while in my previous school that was the norm. In primary, the number of students was smaller and as I got older, the school continued growing, and classes got bigger and bigger which further strengthened the diversity. It was especially in the last two years, when the residential students joined, that the diversity of the student body peaked and being exposed to and interacting with people from so many different backgrounds really shaped me as a person.
What were the main changes that you observed over time?
As I mentioned, the school grew and the student body became more diverse but let me talk about the physical campus which changed so much over the last 10 years. We as a school have worked really hard towards making the campus more sustainable and eco-friendly which ties in well with the UWC values. I witnessed the building of the green wall, the installation of the solar panels and the birth of the residential garden. The community came together to make the campus a more pleasant place, also for those who lived there to get a better and nicer home.
What was the most fun and the most challenging?
One of my favourite moments and highlights were the International Fairs. These events are organised by the parents in collaboration with the school and are the time of a celebration of different cultures and diversity via sharing food, wearing national costumes and performances. During these events, everyone was always so happy and the atmosphere was always so cheerful. And usually, the weather was good too!
On the other hand, the hardest part of my UWCM experience was the rotation of people, very few students stay permanently. Most people tend to stay for 3 years and then move away, so you make friends and then they leave. However, it helped me to create some remarkable bonds because now I have friends all around the world which is special but also kind of sad. And of course, the last two years, doing the IB DP, were very hard when trying to balance academics and social life.
How did you learn to live the UWC mission?
I actually remember how in Primary, when leaving the classroom at the end of the day, we had to say one of the UWC values. That engraved the values into our memories, we remembered every one of them. Although I also remember that in the early days, we did not know what some of the values actually exactly meant, for example: “sense of idealism”. Either way, it was these small things that kept us thinking about the values constantly, we always knew what we lived by at school. The service days and then CAS service were also very important to put the values into practice and to bring the values outside our school community and really make a difference. That really taught me to give back to the community in order to be truly part of it. I really felt that it was through these experiences, and really living these values that helped me as a student to eventually understand what the values and mission actually are about and how to put them into practice.
How do you think this helps you when living the UWC mission in the future?
Being at UWCM taught me how to be with people from many different nationalities. I think that it really is something that you have to learn through experience. I learned really well how to be around and how to make friends with people who come from different cultures and have different traditions and beliefs. I learned to be curious to get to know people who at first sight don’t seem to be the kind of people with whom I would normally be friends. UWC taught me that I should look for what we have in common rather than what we don’t. In terms of UWC values, we all carry those forever, we know what they are, and while we might not be able to list them, we continue to live by them. I will continue giving back to my local community and look forward to giving back also to UWCM.
If you were to give one piece of advice to the day students who stay in the school for many years, what would it be?
I would say: “It all works out in the end”! I recommend just going with the flow, being patient, trying to get to know other people and being open to new unexpected friendships.