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Ndèye Fatou Guèye, UWC Costa Rica 2008-2010

My name is Ndèye Fatou GUEYE, and I represent Senegal in the United World College Costa Rica (UWCCR). I joined UWCCR in 2008; before that, I used to study in Thierno Saïdou Nourou Tall High School.

Now that I have spent enough time in the college and that I gathered an experience I can actually reflect on, I think that joining UWCCR was a unique opportunity which I am very grateful for. First of all, it has broadened my knowledge about the rest of the world and made me much more open-minded. Living with people from no less than 70 different countries is something that not many people have the chance to experience, and I do think that it allows a wider understanding of different cultures, which encourages tolerance and acceptance of other people’s beliefs and opinions, qualities which are needed for solidarity and peace in the world. Besides that, because we all share our different cultures, I now feel that I truly am a citizen of the world, that I belong to any country and that no matter where I go, I will most likely find a friend whom I can rely on; I feel more secure in this not-so-big-after-all world…

However, it would be false to define this experience as easy and/or perfect. For me, that was mainly because living with two people in a room does not provide enough private space, which can be very irritating because from time to time, we all need our personal space. In addition to that, sometimes, very strong confrontations can occur due to cultural differences and incompatibilities: more than once, I have argued quite harshly with people who were standing for causes I just could not condone, such as abortion… But these are minor events that do not occur very often: after all, aren’t we all promoters of peace? Besides, fights are to be expected when one puts together people with strong personalities and opinions; but fortunately, we share at least one ideal, which is tolerance. That keeps each of us away from serious fights and helps us discern the good from the bad in what the other says.

Overall, I would say that the UWCCR experience allowed me to bring out the best of my personality and to acquire valuable skills – academic as well as social skills. I have met completely different people, I have made friendships which, I hope, will be everlasting… But above all, I have discovered that the world is a place we can change if we all stand hand in hand and refuse to let cultural differences create barriers between us.