If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy.
Then he becomes your partner
Nelson Mandela

UWC Maastricht Alumni

Sahar Thomson UWC 2016

After UWC, I'm pretty tired of saying goodbyes, but as a good friend once said: "I guess if you're scared to say goodbye, it means that you've found something that you love enough to be
scared to lose".

My name is Sahar Thomson (UWCM Class of 2016), and I'm from Sint Maarten (Dutch West Indies). I guess you could call me a UWC alum now. A year after my time at UWC Maastricht, and I still find it hard to believe that it's all over.

After UWC, I decided that I wanted to be in a setting outside of the classroom that would allow me the space that I needed to reflect on the most transformative two years of my life thus far, and basically, make sense of the last 18 years of life and what I'd like the future to hold for me.

I stumbled upon the 'bridge year' program, Global Citizen Year, applied, and was accepted to go to Ecuador. For the last 7 months, I've been living in the center of 'Parroquia Santa Ana', which is a rural community about 40 minutes outside of the city of Cuenca. You'll find me here, kickin' it with my host parents, Mami Chula and Papi Chulo (or as I like to call them, 'los Chus'), and Gato and Oso (my host sisters). As much as I tried to avoid the classroom, it happened to find its way to me, and now I spend my weekdays at the local high school, co-teaching English alongside an Ecuadorian teacher, and it's come to be one of the most fulfilling parts of my week. There were things that I was expecting to learn, and others that I hadn't expected to, but that came my way anyway. An amplified appreciation for what teachers do, a new found understanding of 'self-accountability', conquering fears of standing in front of 40 students and speaking to them in a language that isn't my own, and understanding the many dimensions of what it means to be a black female foreigner. Other lessons include, the realization of how difficult it really is to become fluent in a language, consequently giving me a new found fascination in as to how I can support immigrants and refugees with the challenge of language learning, which has led to a strong appreciation for ESL.

So much has happened in the last few months, and now, here I am, two weeks away from leaving the community I've been able to call a home for the last 7 months, a host family that has come to feel like real family, and friends that started and ended this journey by my side. After UWC, I'm pretty tired of saying goodbyes, but as a good friend once said: "I guess if you're scared to say goodbye, it means that you've found something that you love enough to be scared to lose".

The next adventure starts, where I will be putting all these new found lessons to work, is at Quest University Canada in Squamish, British Columbia, as part of their class of 2021.

Sahar Thomson

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