I remember 10 months ago I received an outreach email from my teacher about a fascinating scholarship to a school I had never heard about before. In the midst of O’Level preparation, I didn't typically read all his emails about higher education issues (haha) but there was something compelling about UWC that immediately captured my attention. Maybe it was the allure of beautiful campuses in exotic countries with names I couldn’t pronounce, or the inspiring vision of the school that intrigued me, but I remember deciding to start writing my application when I got home. I remember reading the profiles of the scholars from previous years and found them to be immensely helpful. Hence, if anything, I hope for this short introduction to be useful too for any UWC hopeful out there.
I’m Sean, a 16 year old from Singapore and I genuinely never imagined I would make it this far. I come from a family of 6, with 3 older sisters and I can foresee homesickness being my toughest challenge as I embark on this adventure. Nonetheless, I’m tremendously grateful and honoured to receive this scholarship. I am also thankful for my educational journey thus far, a journey which I believe has played a significant part in shaping who I am. My primary school time was spent in two schools, moving from a neighbourhood school in Queenstown to ACS. After which, I was accepted into the School of Science and Technology where I completed my O’Levels and headed to where I am now, studying Film in the School of The Arts. Meandering through these different realms of Singapore’s community has been very insightful and I undoubtedly owe this to my parents for moving beyond their tiger parent instincts to support my unorthodox decisions. Looking towards the future, I can’t wait to gain even more perspective, immerse myself in a global village and experience another dimension of life. At present, my understanding of the world is still terribly myopic and I pray that UWC will be an avenue to learn and expand my horizons.
As you can likely tell, science and the arts are a huge part of my life. Contrary to popular belief, the two are more related than it may seem! I truly believe that exposure to both ends of the spectrum is indispensable and incredibly eye opening. Although I have a tremendous love for Film as an art form which I firmly believe has the most power to evoke emotion, I still (as of July, 2017) would like to be a neurosurgeon one day. The brain is an organ which we understand so little about and the challenge of uncovering its mystery is an exciting notion which I want to explore one day.
In conclusion, if I could offer a last piece of advice for anyone who’s considering applying to UWC:
“If there is a film that everyone in the world loves — it means that cinema is dead, because we have found the formula to satisfy.” - Liao Jie Kai, filmmaker/my film teacher.
As I look back at the past rollercoaster ride of gruelling essay writing, camp(s) and interviews, I suppose what is most essential for any UWC hopeful is to just be yourself. Don’t be afraid of having an unpopular opinion, don’t be afraid of not having a “colorful” enough portfolio, don’t be afraid of not knowing enough about the world. As cliche as it is, don’t try to be someone you’re not. Although the quote is only loosely related, I hope you can see the analogy I’m trying to draw. UWC is for dry sponges ready to absorb 2 years of adventure and learning, not full sponges. Be a dry sponge. Soak it all in and a time will come for you to #un-soak it all out, a time to serve others with all that you’ve learned. Be your unique self and whatever it is, do not look back. Hopefully I’m a dry sponge!
All the best :-)