Georgia Halasan '14
Currently, I’m a student at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, and set to graduate at the end of 2018 with a degree in Communication and Culture. Although the University of Calgary may be less well-known outside of Canada, my decision to go there was made with my heart: my Mum, who I didn’t grow up with and get the opportunity to build a relationship with, lives there and I wanted to reconnect with her. The rest of my family still live in Singapore, and during the holidays I often travel to see them, as I have two younger siblings who still attend UWCSEA East.
During my time at UWCSEA East, whilst academic success was of great importance, people were of a much higher priority. Creating meaningful relationships was a key part of my three years at UWCSEA East, and that is what came to my mind during my university selection process. I joined UWCSEA East in the first intake of FIB students (which means I started in Grade 10 and did a one-year preparatory foundation course before moving into the IB Diploma) as the High School expanded. Joining with a small group of other students for such a short period of time, meant we had to fit in quickly. It was important to me to find ways to connect with my peers and make sure that any new students joining the following year also had a successful transition into our tight-knit community.
When I moved to Calgary, I was quick to get involved outside of the university scene. I’m an active volunteer for TEDx Calgary, as well as various cultural festivals throughout the year. I was part of the FIB Talks at UWCSEA East - which has become the TEDx event here now. I was chosen one of the top three speakers that year; my presentation was on emotional intelligence.
I think that I found my passion for people - making meaningful personal connections and helping others - through my involvement in various local and international service work during my time at UWCSEA East.
The teachers who really helped shape me were my Maths and Spanish teachers; they were instrumental in helping me through two subjects that I found the most difficult. I enjoyed those subjects the most, because it was those teachers who put in the extra time to help me understand the concept and to ensure enjoyed the subject.
In my first year of university, I was recognized by the University’s Residence Students’ Association as an Emerging Leader in Residence - someone who helps to build the community by promoting an inclusive and positive experience. Reflecting back on why I got involved, I think I’ve been trying to recreate the UWCSEA East environment everywhere I go since leaving. I joined in Grade 10 for the Foundation IB and this was what happened for me, so it was an environment I tried to create at university for everyone else.
Coming to UWCSEA was the first time that I was exposed to people who were so different from me - not just in where they came from, but the perspectives they had and the values they lived by. It was part of being such a diverse environment that made me appreciate diversity in everyone. And that is directly linked to my choice to study communication and culture at university, and helps inform how I approach the topics. I really believe that at the end of the day it’s all about the people - the relationships you have and how you are changed by the people you meet.
One of the things UWCSEA East taught me is that I have a responsibility to be an ambassador for the kind of world that I want to live in. I think a better world, which UWCSEA helped me define, is one where we live more collectively. A world where we have concern not only for each other, but also for the environment in which we live.
There truly is no place like UWCSEA East.