Learning more about the world through gap year experiences
The Gap Year programme allows students to embark on an amazing journey to put their UWCSEA experience into immediate action and make meaningful contributions to society. These experiences offer a unique opportunity for students to learn more about the world around them and gain first-hand experiences while working on different projects to understand cultures, beliefs and passion, the impact of conflict, natural disasters and impoverished living conditions. In doing so, better understand their role as future changemakers.
Although a UWCSEA scholarship covers the daily cost of a scholar life at the College, additional activities like service gap year projects mean additional costs that may be financially out of reach for some scholars. Gifts to the College, through UWCSEA Foundation, support our scholars to participate in gap year projects and make a difference in people's lives.
Cristóbal '15, Scholar from Chile, spent three months in Timor-Leste working in a small clinic. As an aspiring doctor, he arrived at a place with basic medical facilities to support the local clinic staff and connect with the community.
"Back in the house I chat with my host. They narrate the times of the occupation, the hardships, having to flee to Indonesia to escape the massacre, how they lost friends and families and how some of their acquaintances fought as guerrilla soldiers. I hear stories of families shot, houses burned, and fights fought. To my surprise, the affected keep no grudge towards their attackers. The past is solemnly remembered but life goes on, it must go on.”
Another scholarship service fund supported by the Class of 1986 is The Michael McErlain Scholarship Service Fund. This was set up in honour of a wonderful classmate and his lifelong support for good causes - in hope that his dedication will continue to inspire UWCSEA students' spirit of giving. Two scholars who benefited from this fund were Debby '15, Scholar from Timor-Leste and Phavadee '15, Scholar from Laos. They spent a summer doing something meaningful in their respective hometowns. Debby volunteered at a non-profitable clinic – Baino Pite in Dili, Timor-Leste, where she spent most of her summer in the Tuberculosis (TB) Programme Team as a translator, whilst Phavadee interned at the Faculty of Law and Political Science Clinical Legal Education (FLP CLE) in Vientiane, Laos.
Their gap year placement may have been temporary, but the experience is something that shapes their lives moving forward.
Giving to the College, through the Annual Fund and UWCSEA Foundation, enriches the unique UWC learning experience and brings the College closer to achieving its mission.