“A few months ago, doing a count-down to November 2017 over lunch was fun. As the days drew closer, the stark realization of what being part of Waterford Kamhlaba UWCSA has meant to each one of us swayed the conversation to how short the two years have been, and how surreal the changes we notice within and between ourselves seem.
When I first got here, and meeting many people from diverse backgrounds, I felt like I had crossed multiple international borders, even though for me, home is just 30 minutes away. With such magnitude of differences between us, the two years were unpredictable and I imagined that I was going to be shut up tight inside myself, but orientation was enough for me to unfold quite wonderfully. The spirit of collaboration was the starting element for most of us, so even though we did not know how every other thing was going to unfold, there was at least a guarantee of a social life and support. Now, as we approach the end of the trail, I have more memories of common interests that we have established between ourselves than I have underscored our differences. I did not have to go far to find inspiration; it was in my co-years and the rest of this community.
Waterford provided me the platform to establish myself anew, at my own pace. When I first came to the school, freely expressing my views was a daunting task, perhaps because my opinions and judgments were limited to the context of where I come from. Waterford has made me grow out of the status quo; I now see myself as a global citizen, highly capable of engaging with issues of global significance in a competent manner.
I will forever be astounded by the unrelenting effort we put in to be there for each other, albeit the demands of our course. This has inculcated in me a lifelong value of community. I have made sense of why we so often refer to ourselves as the “Waterford community’’. Together we have made simple acts of kindness, from greeting as we cross paths in the classroom block corridors to sparing a few minutes so that we listen to each other - the lifeblood of Waterford. That in itself was enough to keep me going.
I also mastered the beautiful art of multi-tasking here at Waterford, a kind of multi-tasking peculiar to us. We are not limited people, nor are we predictable. Rather than be imbued by academics Waterford lured me, through its crop of multi-talented young people, into being involved in an array of activities beyond academia. I had the liberty to try out a lot of new things, some of which worked out well while others did not. The point though is that I never felt restricted by my capabilities or experiences, so it was a journey of self-discovery too.
It has been said that you never actually leave the UWC; that I can attest to because some of the ways I now use to identify myself are the outcome of my being here. It was an incredible journey. I thank my benefactors who made this opportunity a reality for me.”
Bongekile Stella Dlamini (Swaziland, WK 2016-2017)