Hello again everyone! 


I am back again with another short introduction of myself. For the benefit of those who haven’t read my previous introduction from 2016, my name is Joel Phoon and I’ll be heading to UWC Maastricht this year.

I was originally nominated to start my UWC journey with  UWC Mostar (which is a great place by the way, definitely do visit if you have the opportunity to) back in 2016 just after I finished my GCE ‘O’ Levels. Unfortunately, shy of a few days before I was scheduled to leave, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia and had to stay back in Singapore for two years of treatment. With the help of a great team of healthcare professionals (*shoutout* to the team at NUH), a supportive family and social circle, I was able to pick myself up and work through the chemotherapy. I’m glad to say that I’m now approaching the tail end of my treatment protocol, and am in full remission. 


I spend quite a portion of my free time in the gym, training more specifically in the sport of Powerlifting. When I’m not training, you can probably find me checking out new food places with my family, cooking, listening to an eclectic mix of music (I’m quite an audiophile) or reading articles and watching videos on the web on a wide range of topics: exercise physiology, nutrition, the latest tech and the best places to eat just to name a few. 

I first found out about powerlifting when I was randomly surfing the web in the hospital ward, and somehow I found it interesting enough to try as soon as my doctor gave me the green light. It might seem bizarre to some that lifting arbitrary weights through space can be fun or rewarding – but I assure you that it has been both and more for me. Training has really helped me through my treatment over the past few years – having small victories every session like being able to lift more weight than I was previously able to has been extremely helpful in keeping my morale high. And of course, I get to reap the health benefits of constantly being involved in varying levels of physical activity :). It has also led to me adopting a healthier lifestyle and has made me more aware of the food choices that I make. 


Speaking of food, my siblings and I make it a point to travel to different restaurants and eateries try new types of cuisines as often as we can. I enjoy learning about different cultures through the cooking styles and ingredients that they use – and of course also eating great food, because who doesn’t right? On days when I feel up to the challenge I also try to recreate some dishes that leave deep impressions on me at home although the final product can sometimes be of debatable quality.  


As those who have read my previous profile would know, family has always been very important to me. Without them I honestly do not think I would have made it through the past two years. I owe my family so much and again, I think it’s the thing I’ll miss the most when I’m in Maastricht. However, I’m positive that I’ll find a second home there, and am looking forward to meeting my co-years and second years! 

So, what has changed? Well, not much, really. I still stand by the beliefs I had back in 2016 – that being in an environment like a UWC campus will really help me understand not only the world but the cultures and traditions of the people that inhabit it. I firmly believe that the two years I am about to spend in UWC Maastricht will change me for the better, into a more matured, forward-thinking and considerate individual. 


I am excited to restart my UWC journey and am looking forward to returning with great experiences to share with everyone! Until then, I bid my fellow scholars godspeed, and everyone else farewell!

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