A Welcome Letter


by Cesar Almeida, United World College Maastricht
14th September, 2019


As I board my flight back to the Netherlands, I can’t think of anything else but deadlines and you. After being nearly 2 months back home, in Mexico, I can’t help but recall how my life was before Maastricht. I attended a local high school, had local friends, sustained a local lifestyle, yet I  unceasingly dreamed of studying abroad, traveling, perhaps backpacking around a country, a continent, or even world. You know, ambitions that any local teenager can long for.
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So I applied, got in, and all of a sudden it was no longer just me, it was us. After saying our goodbyes, receiving the best of wishes and hopes for success from our families, friends, mentors, and teachers; from home, we parted to the Netherlands with our memories and our ambitions in our suitcases. Some of us with expectations in mind of what it’s going to be like, some others awaiting to be surprised.
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We arrived, elbow to elbow entering through the “tunnel of love” formed by our dear DP2s to this place some of us currently call home.
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Now we arrived once again, to keep the tradition and form the welcoming tunnel that you will surely form for your DP1s, and so on.
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Anyhow, everything after that tunnel becomes a personal journey, and it is a story that will be up to you to write. Your subjects, your time, your experience, your life for the next two years will be all yours. That is where the magic in this island relies upon. It is ours, and we decide what goes on or not in this place. Our liberty within and responsibility to UWC Maastricht is what makes this school a UWC. The spirit that we choose to vividly conceive in this place and everything that it’s comprised of: students, staff, residences, IB, is ours.
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Keeping up with this place might be challenging at times. Balancing academics, personal experiences, and community life might appear hard, and for the majority of us–it is. After all, we only have two years of time. Nonetheless, I would like to quote one of the world’s most well-known philosophers, Nietzche, who said: “He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How”.
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We are all trying to find a Why in this place and in life, from students to staff. We are all individuals. We have our own past, present, and future. We believe in ideas and we stand by our beliefs. All of that is part of who we are and what makes us active citizens here and wherever we may be. But we are also key gears in this clocking and ticking system called UWC Maastricht, and even further: the UWC Movement. Our sense of community is one of the many things that differentiates a UWC from any other international or boarding school and educational system around the world.
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One might argue whether belonging to this community is a choice or a duty, and what each of us believes is nothing else but that: a personal belief that should be respected, though also challenged, defended or even at some cases abandoned for something better. We should always keep in mind that as people, we must demand respect and with no exception respect others. What is true is that we own this freedom and entitlement to think and act upon this community as we believe is right, respecting the freedom of other members of this same community. We should, as UWCers, bear in mind that every privilege comes with a responsibility. From organizing to attending workshops and events, this place works because we as students, staff, parents, and sponsors make it work.

On my personal experience, I’m still trying to find my own Why while at the same time belonging to a community that is also trying even deeper to find a Why, a reason to exist and methods to transcend in our conflictive world. If there is one thing that I can assure you is that we as individuals are not perfect, therefore, the community that we as individuals conform doesn’t have to be. But let’s grow and improve all together! I invite each and every one of the members of the UWC Maastricht community and the UWC Movement as a whole to engage in the community, promote the values and morals in which you believe and lastly, contribute something authentic to this brief but intense experience of living in a UWC. It is our responsibility–and even our calling–to grow and learn continuously, and at the same time grow as a  community holistically.
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Dear Students and Staff, old and new, welcome to another year of UWC in Maastricht!

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