We’re Not Really Strangers Here

by Marina Garlick, UWCM
12th of July, 2022
Illustration by Sufi Abdellah

What do you mean when you inevitably say: “I know them” Do you mean that you know what their subject package is? Or is it that you can recite their name and where they come from. 


The IB can be a time consuming pain in the ass, as every single IB student can testify, but we should still be able to connect with others even if we are stressed. There is much to be said about how we make relationships and whether or not there is much that can be done about who we choose as friends. But there is a general consensus that proximity and opportunity makes many of our relationships possible. 


We, objectively, live on a bleak concrete island packed with students and staff. Just 305 days ago we were all strangers seeing strange masked faces for the first time. The lot of us, year 12’s at the time (RIP DP1), tried our best to make friends, meeting so many people in those first weeks that we can mostly agree that it’s a blur. But alas here we are, wrapping up the end of our first year in DP (…year 12?) and what do we have to show for it. A suitcase full of memories? A handful of friends? A place to call home? Remembering the names and countries of 95% of the residential community? Bravo, what an accomplishment


Why do we continue to scratch the surface over and over again as if we will get a different result?


Are you satisfied with the relationships that you have made? Looking around it seems that not much has changed since the first month of school. Same shapes of groups filling the mensa tables. But really, how is that possible? We are such an engaged campus with an extensive list of annual events that ought to have united the community together by now. The administration likes to preach connectivity in any regard. 


Bringing me to the topic of the Residential Experience Week. 


According to Kate Doyle’s weekly email “Day students […] got to further develop and extend the relationships over the course of the week.” A week it was, with a different activity every night there was much to take in for both Day and Residential Students. For many that I spoke with, the timetable of the week seemed daunting and overbooked – though many were excited in anticipation of what the week could bring. 


Additionally Simon Ramsay informed us at the Residential Community meeting, of the general feedback from the Day Students. He said that overall it was positive that they felt immediately welcomed and included in the community. Immediately after this omision I overheard a small group of students say something along the lines of “we should all receive an oscar for our performance.” Were you acting, did it feel like a show? This sentiment was echoed by a Day student that I spoke to that brought up their worry, that after the week was over they were worried all of this progress would disappear and they would feel like they were on the outside again. 


Many of the students I spoke to, both Day and Residential, felt that they, as reported in the weekly newsletter, got the chance to really make new friends and strengthen their existing relationships. Was it through the appropriately named card game: “We’re not really strangers” or was it through one of the other student-led activities? Admittedly it was intriguing to witness people sitting in semi random circles with variable levels of engagement opening up about their deeper identities. The game felt like the first time in a while that people were scratching deeper than the surface with someone new. It seems we’ve gotten to the point where we need card games to get to know each other on a more personal level. I myself can attest to the fact that I learned new things about people that I have called my friends for months through that game. How many people can you definitely say: “I know what the last lie they told their mother was.” Or maybe whether they’re more afraid of success or failure? No? Interesting.


What do you think, are all these opportunities to get to know each other going to waste, are they strengthening existing relationships? Or are they actually attaining their goal, are you still making new relationships? Do you want to or is that too deep?