Christelle Yaméogo – Class of 2021

June 10, 2024

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Christelle Yaméogo, I am from Burkina Faso which is in West Africa. I am a UWC Maastricht alumna from the Class 2021. Now, in December 2023 I got a chance to visit the UWCM campus and accepted the invitation to chat and catch up.

What have you been up to since graduation?

After my graduation, I was finally, after 2 years, able to go home. That was definitely the highlight of that time, after Covid and all the restrictions and closed borders I was able to go home to see my family. Together with my family and friends, I realised how much I had grown and changed. I was more aware of cultural differences and I definitely learned a lot about myself.

At UWCM, I was surrounded by people different from me and while I loved learning about their backgrounds and cultures, it made me appreciate the beauty of my own culture and heritage. It made me see that I was also special. I learned so many new things and via my peers discovered so much about the world. The two years really opened my eyes. It made me more tolerant, simply more aware of possible differences between people and appreciating the magic of diversity. However, it also made me understand that because of diversity, conflicts may arise too. At UWCM, I learned how to respect each other regardless of differences and work together on resolving conflicts.

The UWC experience also taught me perseverance. The experience may be wonderful but not always easy. I remember that after the first three days of the UWCM summer school focused on learning English, I called my mum telling her that I wanted to go back home because I was so overwhelmed with the environment change, all the accents and often struggling to understand others. After some months of interacting with people at UWC and improving my English skills, I went like “Wow, I have grown so much” and I am really grateful that I did not give up!

What are your studies focused on now?

After the summer following my graduation from UWCM, I went to the US, to study at Case Western in Cleveland, Ohio. At first, I wasn’t sure what to choose as my major, I was thinking between economics and data science. I appreciated the flexibility of my first semester when I tried out a real mix of classes and gradually found out that I prefer economics, with a more quantitative approach. I really love it! I am in my third year now, currently doing my exchange program at Sciences Po Paris on the campus of Reims in France. After that, I will return to Case Western to finish my studies and to graduate next year. I am thinking about doing a master’s but I do not have a clear plan yet and prefer not to share much before it’s certain 🙂

In what ways does the UWC mission and values come up in your daily life?

When I think of the values, the most present in my day-to-day life is probably cultural understanding and in general open-mindedness. While at UWC, it really felt like living in a bubble where everyone is working towards a mission and has similar values. It was a bit of a shock once I left the UWC island, that not everybody is like that. However, I learned that you need to be aware that not everybody had the experience that you had, studying at a UWC, and be more mindful of that and understand where people are coming from. I knew not to marginalise or classify people, I set stereotypes aside and continued getting to know people who at first seemed very different from me.

If you had to describe your UWC experience with one word, what would you say?

The one word that comes to mind is discovery. I discovered so many new things. In terms of academics, I appreciated the critical thinking approach to learning. In general, I enjoyed exploring new places and meeting all the new people. I still remember when we had our African dance activity in my second year. When we were done practising, we moved to the mensa, with the speaker still on, and we kept on dancing or just chatting with each other. We were really there for each other, both in the highs and lows of the UWC experience. I felt so connected to my friends and to the community there.

Christelle, you had volunteered to be on one of the posters about three years ago and you shared these thoughts with us ”UWCM had such a big impact on me, in the sense that my perspectives broadened and my way of thinking has improved. I hope I can be an example to other young girls now”. How do you feel about that quote now?

I still very much stand by it, especially the part about broadening my perspectives. I now see that I learned so many new and important things at UWCM. My goal of being an example is really just to show others, especially people with a similar background to mine, that it’s possible to do whatever you want to do as long as you are ready to work hard, then nothing can stop you.