Graduating from LPC and becoming a UWC alumna

After a  long break from blogging, I am back on my page! My time at Li Po Chun United World College ended on the 25th of May, when I boarded my plane from Hong Kong International Airport to Istanbul. It’s unbelievable, but two years of life at UWC have passed and I am now an alumna!

Writing this post and getting the courage to write about everything that has happened since we took our IB exams in our last week of LPC, took a little bit of processing time. Well, additionally I was also trying to meet as many of my friends and family members as possible since I returned to Berlin and then flew off to Izmir, Turkey, hence I barely even had time to properly read through and reply to all my emails and inbox messages (If you are one of those people who I have not responded to yet, I am incredibly sorry and I did not forget you, I just did not have enough time to sit down and write a proper response. But I will this week!) But back to the topic of not only graduating from high school, but also finishing my LPC life, packing it into yearbook entries and two suitcases which are not allowed to exceed 30kg .The secondyears officially strated their path to graduation and hence also the end of the UWC journey with a graduation dinner, our version of prom.

Our grad dinner commenced with drinks at Arnett’s house. Very gentlemen-like Houssam (Morocco) and Nuno (Portugal) knocked on our door to pick us all up and go over to “Block 5” For a little moment we all felt like celebraties within our own circles. The campus was once again filled with people wearing beautiful dresses and suits, resembling the moving dots of an impressionist painting from far away. It was a moving and joyful experience – seeing ourselves so close to finishing LPC, capturing last moments with our friends in photos and standing a the exact same spot where our secondyears stood last year.

After the photo sessions that did not seem to be enough (we had to squeeze in photos with our closest friends, our cultural groups, our teachers, our roommates, our QCs)the secondyears hopped on a bus that would head to the Regal Riverside Hotel, where the school had booked a festive event room for us. Gia (Bahamas), Arthur (Hong Kong) and Linda (teacher) gave their heartfelt grad-dinner speeches that addressed not only the unforgettable times we left behind, but also humourusly touched upon what would be ahead of us (the perks of university life, adulthood, etc.) The evening reached its high with the rythm of the music played and the according moves and unstoppable cheering and claaping accompanied an epic dance battle between Trevor (teacher – Australia) and Paul (teacher – Canada), with Trevor being the clear winner due to his John Travolta like moves.

And just like that grad dinner ended. We all hopped on the bus and made our way back to LPC, where our firsties where waiting for us in the courtyard. They surprised us and brought most of us to tears by singing “I lived” by OneRepublic. There could not have been a song that better described our past two years, our travels and adventures and our  future wishes:

Hope when the moment comes, you’ll say…

I, I did it all
I, I did it all

I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived

Hope that you spend your days, but they all add up
And when that sun goes down, hope you raise your cup
Oh, I wish that I could witness all your joy and all your pain
But until my moment comes, I’ll say…

I, I did it all…

Hearing this beautiful song performed by our beloved roomies and firsties truly moved us all. Listen for yourself:

Well… I got a little bit excited writing about grad-dinner , when actually there was a lot more that happened before! 😀 So here is a little summary:  the last days at LPC passed with the blink of an eye while at the same time being packed with moments and memories: On Friday, 23rd May, I finished my last exam, then rushed for a last doctor’s appointment (no need to worry!), ran to the Academics Block to pick up my grad-hoodie, UWC souvenirs and yearbook, hopped over to Hayley’s flat to help prepare the tables and snacks, followed by the traditional Head of House drinks, and a night filled with packing and special moments with friends. (Note to self: Packing two years of your life into 30 kg is not only hard, it is IMPOSSIBLE!) Having a difficult time packing, most of us handed down special items, furniture and clothes to our firstyears in the hope that they may remember us when wearing or using them.

The following Saturday was just as eventful: Tutor Brunch in the morning (an absolutely wonderful start of the day spent at a New Zealand tapas bar in Sai Kung with delicious avocado and eg muffins and wonderfully deep conversations). A few hours after that it was time for the graduation ceremony! As always before an important event our room was filled with lots of laughter and hilarious hysteria in an attempt to dress and make-up as many people as possible.

The big moment (written down on a tiny notepad exactly as I felt in that very moment)

Liondance Performances. Student Awards. Speeches. Heartfelt clapping of hands. We were all in the assembly hall, with parents having their eyes all on us. We were all dressed in our traditional costumes or formal dresses, seated by Blocks in the assembly hall that had been witness to so many events. When my name was read aloud, I walked across a stage, reached for my UWC diploma with my left hand and shook the principal’s with my right, posed for a photo before saying “thank you” to Arnett and Mr. Anthony Tong, chairman of the Board, walked off the stage and sat back down. A few minutes later after all our names had been called and the choir had performed a beautiful song, we were asked to come on stage and referred to as “graduates”! As first-years we couldn’t even comprehend what graduation would be like, and we thought of it as a far-off ideal that we only thought about when prompted.We watched our secondyears friends get their diplomas and get out of dodge, and we mourned them, wondering how they could be so cavalier about the whole experience. When we became secondyears and the final IB exams approached we moaned and wished to just be finished and at the same time dreaded leaving. But then the last days came.  During the graduation ceremony the reality of leaving hit me hard and even though I was thrilled to finally walk on stgae and lay hands on my UWC diploma, a weird sense of melancholia accompanied me. So when my name was called, I walked on stage with slightly shaky legs, smiled at the picture of me as a baby that was projected on the wall behind me, shook hands with Anrett and Mr. Tong and tried my best to smile for the photo that would be taken of us, knowing that my parents and friends at home would be watching this very moment on the livestream. When I left the stage and the next name was called, I took a mental inventory of myself. I was relieved and glad I didn’t trip onstage and incredibly happy to be holding a UWC diploma in my hand, my diploma, but that was it. The expectation of feeling different was not met. Looking back at it now, I would say “of course not!” You don’t change once you graduate. You don’t feel any different, and that is because you have already changed dramatically. Attending a UWC itself is a process of change. There’s no chrysalis moment when you suddenly bloom into adulthood the second that colorful diploma is placed in your hands; graduation is just the formalization of everything that you already secretly knew but didn’t have the confidence to admit to yourself: you are ready to face the world.  The diploma is only a validation of that.

It’s difficult to describe- a jumble of fear, a pang of regret, and sprinkles of nervousness with a side of excitement. There’s a lot of uncertainty and expectation in the air, and I suppose that’s what makes it so exciting, but equally as frightening. While some of us have their future laid out, others don’t and cannot stop asking questions.  Am I moving off to university? Should I just start working and get experience?  A fear develops because we’re afraid we might not find the answers to these questions, or even worse- when we do find them, we may not like the answers at all. The only things we can control are our ability to work our hardest and do our best to look after our health during this gruelling and stressful time. Just give everything your best effort and it will all work itself out in the end when your hard work pays off.

Another difficult thing about leaving LPC  is parting with the teachers you have grown so close to over the years. There are teachers who put so much effort into their classes, inspiring and empowering their students to learn and to apply. These are the teachers who are the hardest to say goodbye to, but the truth is; they were preparing for us to leave all along, wanting us to go out into the world armed with as much information as possible to tackle all the big issues and – in the spirit of the United World College mission – make a change. It’s hard to repay a person who has made such an impact on your life, and a small gift and all my thoughts and thanks written in the form of a letter are simply not enough, even though they certainly help make parting ways easier (A little note here: I still dread writing thank-you-cards because they simply are not expressing enough of what is felt, just like yearbook entries will never be able to capture the true range of gratitude and love we feel towards our friends)

I want to once again send a big “Thank you”to all the great teachers I got to meet at LPC. There is too much to write about every single one of you and the ways in which you have impacted me, that I won’t be able to fit it all on this page. Just so my readers get an impression of how wonderful and unique teachers at LPC are, here are a few examples of what I have to thank you all for, but they do not cover all the staff member I need to “thank”: Hayley, for being such a wonderful tutor and a second mom with a listening ear. Julie, for the absolutely amazing Geography classes (and the support with my crazy IA and EE ideas), and for letting me befriend Donnie (I am sure I will never be able to walk a Beagle quite a character as he is). Kalpana, for the crazy Project Week and late night talks about love and romance, and of course, for your advice in regards to univiersities. Michele, for the insightful French lessons and laughter shared during Peer Support sessions. Nick, for the unforgettable ESS lessons and unbeatable fieldtrips. Magan and Nitu, for pushing me and supporting me throughout the journey of Initiative for Peace (I look forward to hearing back from you about the course of the last conference!) and for the delicious Chai we shared.

Farewell to my friends
The most difficult part for all of us by far was saying farewell to our friends. Two years at LPC were spent building close and memorable connections with them and going through things that could not possibly have brought us closer. Seeing everyone moving off to fulfil their respective dreams and ambitions certainly makes me wonder if we’ll ever cross paths again. It’s funny how we all start from the same beginnings but end up in completely different places in life, particularly from a place like LPC, where we are all one but at the end of the two years disperse all over the globe again. This is always one of the things that makes me regret not doing more to get to know more people at my school. Perhaps my life could have changed even more somehow just by having known them? The lesson here is to meet and talk with as many people as you can while you still have the opportunity! Luckily for our generation, there are social networking sites like Facebook so that we can still maintain contact after graduating from high school, although nothing really beats having a friend in person.

I will especially miss my roommates and all the crazy moments that came with living together for two/one year/s. It is strange waking up alone at home and not spending most of the morning laughing or giggeling (or throwing pillows) Even the most annoying alarm clock sounds are being missed… There are so many more moments – from birthday parties in the room to late night movie sessions, to Britain’s got talent marathons, to having my hair braided by my Sierra Leonian roommate, to talking about Japanese anime and giving each other gifts to manage through exam times. So much love for all my friends and roommates. More than a little blogpost could ever express.

But hey, at least we can always visit each other anywhere around the world, because in almost every country there is someone we know. I for sure put all the countires of my roommates and closest friends on my travel bucketlist. ❤

Congratulations Class of 2015! I wish each and everyone of you a wonderful summer and all the best for your futue 🙂