MUWCI TIMES N.8
Brenda Wacuka ??? Sharo Glany Costa Jiyea Kavya
publishing & editing
Cecilia Cortes Jeppe Ugelving
CONTENT EDITOR’S NOTE………………………………. 4
WADA 1 HOME 9 R…………………………..... 6
HOW SHOULD WE LIVE……………………. … 8
HOME TIES TWO…………………………….... 11
STUCK BETWEEN WADA PAVS………………. 13
GO HOME OUTSIDER……………………….…..14
THE CLOSER THE PROBLEM, THE FURTHER THE SOLUTION?.... ………………………………………….16
EDITORS About 21 months ago I stepped out of a cramped bus filled with sweating Europeans and an overexcited Indonesian into a wet, tropical hill in rural Maharastra. What met me was a maze-like campus with unknown faces everywhere I went. It seemed surreal that these constant overloads of impressions would eventually transform into something you would call a daily life. 2 years of MUWCI, including suspicious Cafeteria food, off-campus CE’s, endless college meetings, amazing project weeks and the ever-present IB had started. 3148 emails later I find myself at the end of the adventure, with my head buried in IB preparation (however, with time for occasional coffee with friends and trips to Sagar Inn) and now writing my last editor’s note for MUWCI Times. In the last year, we have revamped the student newspaper (visually and contentwise) and transformed it to a space for opinion, creativity and journalism. Like most endings this one is, to me, bittersweet. I am proud to present Brenda as the new content editor of MUWCI Times working hand-in-hand with Cecilia, who will be responsible for the visual expression. To help them, they have an incredible team of passionate soon-to-be 2nd-years and hopefully a new bunch of fresh first-years! I hope you will continue reading MUWCI Times, whether it is for nostalgic reasons or for genuine interest. Thank you for two amazing years. It’s been a pleasure.
The changes of coordination, the passing of roles,
the growing number of 1st years speaking in college meeting, the growing sense of ownership, it is happening. The new doors that are opening for many, the doors that are being closed, the new ideas springing up, the pathways we’ve made and woven around each other… 24 hours at a time, we’re are at that part of MUWCI. That part of MUWCI that includes change; the change that is seen every year, by faculty, by staff and yet, experienced for the first time by us and somehow for the first time by them as well, each time.
I call it the midway point, when we all become 1.5 years. Some wish they could go back and somehow we still do and others move forward to meet them halfway, the levels diminish, and there we have it. 1.5. Transition. It’s scary. But it’s happens anyway. I feel blessed to have been given the responsibility of being the editor of this newspaper; to be able to contribute my fair share of what more I believe the MUWCI times can become and yet I cannot help but look back with nostalgia at the help, growth and skill of the MUWCI 2011-2012 coordinator, Jeppe Ugelvig. Thank you, Jeppe. You are absotuvely awesome.
This edition is about Home and Living, about what a home means, to many, how we move with it, personal reflections and living in general as well. Life. We cannot escape it (for those with the desire to live) and yet we must find our way of enjoying every single moment of it. We have articles gravitating around this topic and I urge you to read on, to see what your community thinks about living and home. Happy reading!
MUWCI is a large community and there are so many people that make it; a fact that must not be taken for granted. These statements are taken from faculty, Sodexo staff, construction workers building WADA five, students and myself. It might be unnerving that exact details of the persons have not been given, but for a community that is passionate about what it does and what it is contributing, getting to know who WE are plays a huge role. “Just like that? Such a big question. Home means Parag. It means my daughters, my cat, and my dog. What more do I want? That’s all I need. It’s not even the place; it’s just that it’s at MUWCI now. Everything I want is in my house. When I’m not there, I’m restless.’’ Kermeen “It is life; it is happiness and you have to take care of it all the time” Nizam “A home is a place you love and feel good about” Cecilia “Me? You’re asking me? I have no fucking idea. I’ve never lived in a place for more than 2 years, I’m probably the wrong person to ask. MUWCI would have been home in two years but then we’re leaving.” He laughs. “Peace out Brenda” “A place of safety, comfort” Rigzin
He laughs first. “It’s like a temple, a god. My parents give it a sacred feeling.” Santosh I went to a boarding school in fourth grade. At that time, home meant not school, but I think that meaning has evolved over the years. These days, home is whenever I am with my friends so it’s reversed now and when I’m with my family, it feels like boarding school” Karanjit With a big smile on his face: “A place where you feel you can belong to” Dikshyant “The first thing I think of is Familycousins, mother, father” He laughs. “I’ve never thought about this before, it is a first time question!” Akhilesh “A place were we can totally rely on. Aah damn, how do you say this shit? Yeah, yeah, a place which waits for you all the time. Every day.” Seung Pyo
“It’s where I originate from and where I feel most comfortable. Also, where I know my place and know my way around best” Garen
“A place where you can do whatever you want without any consequences. A place where you come home and you have someone there to hug you” Christina Iglesias
“A place where I’m comfortable in and there’s family and friends. Where I’m happy” Roshni
From what I saw from my interviews and what I feel from my own life, home is a place of love. Whenever I asked someone the question, a smile would surface. It’s a place of peace, of comfort, of joy, a holy place that you can call your own… that you must protect and that makes you secure. All this peace, all this joy, all this security…. is it the same for you? I wonder… What does home mean to you? And most importantly, Is MUWCI that place? What is? “A name is not just an identity, but when learned, becomes the first step towards building a relationship” self made “Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.” Christian Morgansten
SELF-GOVERNANCE AT MUWCI
HOW SHOULD WE LIVE?
The Community Forum spent the entirety of its last hourlong meeting on the question of who should be given the responsibility of drafting a preliminary proposal for the structure of the Forum as it goes forward. Pelham began the meeting by suggesting that a group of five students work separately with him to write up a proposal to be presented at the next Forum meeting and subsequently to the rest of the student body with revisions by the Forum. A number of students felt strongly that such a group could not properly represent the interests of the community, and that while it would require more time the drafting needed to take place within the Forum. At the conclusion of the meeting, no consensus had been reached, and Pelham stepped in to make an executive decision to go forward with the drafting process with a small group randomly selected from volunteers within the Forum. The majority in the room agreed with Pelham’s decision and were happy that something had finally been decided, but few agreed upon the way in which that decision was made. A discussion on the Kony video last Monday, led by development worker Jessie Seller, provides a counterexample to this train wreck of discourse. For two hours we discussed the problems of clicktivism, our susceptibility to propaganda, and most prominently the question of how such a relatively low-priority cause had attracted such disproportionate support, while other causes like Jessie’s, malaria, so often go unacknowledged. The discussion wasn’t so remarkable for its subject matter as it was for the level of discourse
“For some reason, this discussion became one of the first times at MUWCI at which I felt that participants, myself included, were engaging more with ideas than with their own egos”
palpable tension in the room, a collective fear that someone would break the spell with a redundant or non sequitur contribution – but at check-in the discussion concluded and the spell was left unbroken. Something went very right that Monday that was plainly absent from the Forum’s discussion two days later. It’s not a new complaint here at MUWCI that even our most mundane attempts at decisionmaking tend to dissolve the moment more than ten participants are involved. And that’s not such a bad thing; it’s a challenge that inevitably emerges from a student body that has been competitively selected in large part for its idealism - and not necessarily for its pragmatism. But at times the diversity of our strongly held ideals seems to eliminate the possibility of consensus. The idealism that drives us simultaneously paralyzes us, and we are left frustrated and confused as to what we’re doing wrong. How do we balance our need to get things done with the equally important need to get them done in the right way? At Tuesday evening’s faculty discussions, Usha compared the UWC experience to shadow boxing, a chance for students to deal with global, high-stakes problems within the small, relatively safe microcosm of a school. Within this conception, decisions reached by our student body seem to take on far less importance, while the process by which they are reached takes on far more – though the quality of a decision-making process should in part be defined by its success in producing an actionable decision. What, then, should that ideal process look like? There are a few models that, based upon our past experiences, are clearly unworkable. We have experienced a (diluted) version of autocracy under our previous headmaster, and while he certainly succeeding in accomplishing a few things by eliminating the sluggish
And representative democracy, though it still may have potential, has not gotten off to a good start. I propose a new process, one I think fits the culture here at MUWCI quite well and may also solve many of the problems that our repeated experimentations with selfgovernment have been unable to adequately address, issues such as noise, smoking, sleep, homework loads, and alcohol. Rather than approach these issues as we have in the past, there should be an open invitation, as already exists, to a certain extent, for students particularly interested in an issue to develop solutions, either individually or as a part of a small group. They would then present their solutions, first to Pelham, who would make changes as necessary, then to the Community Forum, and finally through representatives to the advisor groups. The Community Forum would then listen to the concerns of their advisor groups and bring those back to the Forum – meetings of the Forum would only be scheduled to receive the proposal from its creators and then a week later to relay feedback from the advisor groups. Once final revisions were made, the proposal would be taken to the entire school for a vote, one requiring a significant majority. This process may sound tedious, but a given proposal should generally take less than a month from its creation to its approval by the college. It would also be produced by students with a particular interest in it – my hope is that a serious interest will outweigh the desire simply to be heard, and will produce the sort of productive discussion that many of us experienced on Monday. And the process of revising the proposal would allow all voices to be heard while assuring that feedback groups never became unmanageable in size. Central to this system is the point that an issue should always be addressed not
failures or unrealized opportunities for improvement, and we need a system in which their responses can be channeled and refined so that our community can undergo the constant, positive change that should be a constant feature of every UWC.
HOME TIES TWO Memories of that day are clearly etched in my mind... I had just arrived in MUWCI, and an old grand-fatherly man, was strolling along the path from Space to the Social Centre. After we exchanged cordial smiles, he asked me “So, where’s home?” It was a very simple question. The problem was, it had no simple answer. I opened my mouth to say something, but all of a sudden, I was at a loss for words... “Well,” I began, and then proceeded to narrate to him the complicated answer... I think MUWCI is the best place to be, if you’re not sure of where home is, simply owing to the fact that most people here aren’t very sure either... I’ve lived in Saudi Arabia all “I think of my life, and yet I feel like I’ve known, and loved, India forever. Which is why, to this day, when people ask me MUWCI is where I’m from, I usually fumble for an answer. This single the best question of where I’m from and its innumerable variants place to be, however, give me a lot of food for thought. if you’re Think as I might, I cannot decide on one place... Often, people give me an “I-can’t- believe-I’m-hearing-this” look, not sure of when I tell them that I consider Saudi home. Suddenly, where questions from “Aren’t women oppressed in that place?” to home is…” “Why would your parents choose to live THERE?” are flung at me. Never having lived anywhere else, I am often stumped... My weak retort of, “It is nice. We have the best malls!!!” does not evoke sympathy or satisfaction from the listener. But I still consider Saudi home, regardless of the fact that I have to veil myself from head to toe, or the fact that I cannot step outside the house without my father and/or my younger brother tagging along, or the fact that I cannot look forward to getting my driver’s license on my 16th or 18th or 25th or 40th birthday... Why? Because I feel at home: safe, secure and lazy, just like how home is supposed to feel... I have been lucky to have my extended family [comprised of the usual gossipy aunts, doting uncles and hilarious cousins] living close by, and have never felt out of place there... The oppression, well, it only becomes oppression when you give it a name... It would be wrong of me to say that female oppression does not exist, it most definitely does, but it’s survivable... While Saudi is my home, it isn’t my only home... Chennai is my home as well.
Downing endless cups of filter coffee and paper-thin ghee covered dosas at my grandmothers’ place, I often get the feeling that I haven’t the slightest care in the world. Chennai is hot, humid and congested, but, to me, it’s still the most beautiful city in the galaxy. Every time I land in the Chennai Airport, I feel a hard lump rising in my throat. It just feels so wonderful, to hear everybody speak the same language as you... Sure, the city isn’t perfect... With loads of 2G scams, family feuds, and theatre fires to boot, it does have its fair share of miseries. But, but it’s still home. It’s the only place where I can recline on my grandmother’s lap, and happily sleep through all the discussions about international trade and business, duly carried on by my wizened grandfather and my father. However, being so indecisive in life can lead to various dilemmas. Like having to choose between Tamil-Brahmin rasam and a shawarma in a restaurant. Or having to choose between a gloriously coloured ghaghra or an elegant, beige kaftan in a dress boutique. Or having to choose between one home and the other...
“... I have the privilege of calling two lovely places home…”
There were times when I used to turn green with envy at the people who were so sure of where they were from. I envied them because they had a sense of belonging that I didn’t have. They could immerse themselves in one culture and not feel guilty about neglecting the other. They would never start an answer to a simple question like ‘Where’s home?’ with a long, drawling “Well...” Now, I’ve come to accept the fact that I am blessed double ... I have the privilege of calling two lovely places home, craving two different kinds of foods and experiencing two different lifestyles. Sure, I still don’t know the answer to “So, where’s home?” When an old grandfatherly man pops the question, I’m still going to fumble for an answer. I’ll miss Saudi in India, and exoticize India in Saudi. But I am at peace with my life. In any restaurant hereafter, I’ll probably go for a crisp cheese dosa and some strong Arabic coffee...
BY SHARO GLANY COSTA
“I feel privileged to be in a place where everyone is somebody…”
STUCK BETWEEN WADA PAVS By Jiyea Twenty one million people squeezed into dusty roads, broken building, smog-filled lanes and BEST buses. The twenty one billion dreams of these twenty one million people mix around and jumble up in the sultry air and each one of them tangles with another, then flies away. Approximately a hundred and ninety one kilometers away, two hundred opinions knot together, but do not manage to escape. One would expect liberation from the constant weight of people and their constantly changing ideas when coming from a metropolis to a microcosm, but most times it feels like the absolute opposite. The sudden shift from being lost but safe in a sea full of strangers to being secure yet floating in a river full of friends is a strange phenomenon. The idea of selfdefinition is too defined here – it gets seemingly harder to just go on, to just be a stranger, to not have people who think they know you. At times, I miss the feeling of being just one more face in the crowd, just another person rushing to get on an already missed bus. At other times, it is a refreshing change, after 17 years of being one in millions – I feel privileged to be in a place where everyone is somebody and where I can (if I wish to) say the things I want to say. And yet, the feeling of living in a bubble is the same. In the big city, each person has their own
little personal bubble, which expands and contracts and involves the world around you if and when you want it to. MUWCI as a whole is one big bubble, as we constantly remind ourselves, with limited access to the outside world. I would assume that Bombay is a part of the outside world – why then, in the midst of a massive social, political and economic whirlwind, is it so easy to be isolated? Maybe it is because we need to find ourselves zones of comfort, where we find distractions from our real time lives. In MUWCI, this means finding comfort in discussing problems of a world that goes on, unaffected by us as we live on the top of a hill. The reason why this article may seem like disconnected thoughts strung together is because I cannot explain this transition – I cannot decide for myself, which place I like more. They are so similar in so many ways – there is always something to do, everyone is always in a hurry and things are always changing. And yet, they are so different: in aspects of judgments, time spent with people and general atmosphere. As I sit on the Library Lawn watching the sunset over the valley, I remember sitting at Marine Drive watching the sun set over the waves. Two such unique worlds, two such unique experiences – all I can do is feel good that I can call both home.
GO HOME OUTSIDER
Urus is when people who are even remotely connected to Chikalgaon (family, guests, passers-by and even, apparently, awkward international students from a UWC on a hill) gather in the village centre for 48 hours of continuous festivities, complete with music, dance, drama and gender role-reversal. Everyone is invited of course. Everyone, except those who aren’t. A group of fifteen people (eleven adults and four children) live a little distance from the main village. That they’re not from Chikalgaon is obvious – their Hindi is too fluent for them to convincingly pass off as Chikalgaon natives. The children are quite young, the youngest probably less than three years old. Four women are available for us to pose our nosy questions to (and once more, I’m amazed at their graciousness in answering what I consider rather intrusive questions).
“Everyone is invited of course. Everyone, except those who aren’t.”
They call themselves ‘adivasis’ – which I, being hopelessly crippled by my lack of knowledge about these people, would have to describe as a group of people subscribing to an ancient tribal religion, similar to nature-worshippers. They seem happy to be alienated from the village – they proudly declare that they are not ‘from here’, sneering appropriately at the ‘here’, but I would question if this was a sort of ‘grapes being sour’ syndrome. Either way, they seem to be the only people barred from Urus – even the ‘scheduled castes’ from the other outskirts are cordially invited. Their houses are tiny, one room affairs made of palm leaves and gunny bag material, vaguely reminiscent of tepees. The floor space is just about enough for two adults to stretch out for a nap, and half of it is taken up by bags stuffed with some sort of ground meal. The house I ventured into had nothing in it except a pile of about eight-ten such bags, and a small square pink hand mirror. They seem uncomfortable around us, and I sense it’s because our only ‘white’ member is scaring the children. The older women gather the children and take them inside, a young girl stands around to answer our questions.
We quickly establish the basics – they come from 500-600 kilometres away, they’ve been in Chikalgaon for nearly five months as of February, 2012, this is the third year they’ve come to this village, their primary job is to harvest sugarcane in the Kolvan valley, they earn between 10-50 rupees each day. The girl we’ve been talking to claims she is nineteen and has been married a year – her husband and all the other men are out working. Smells of food the Chikalgaon men are hunched over barely 30 metres away waft up their little hillock, prompting us to ask them if they ever wish to join in the village festivals. The answer is a vehement ‘no’, they inform us that they have their own festivals, exclusive to their tiny community. We hang around for a bit, but we seem to have offended them. Within minutes, they ask us to leave.
We walk away.
THE CLOSER THE PROBLEM,
THE FURTHER THE SOLUTION?
Ali, from Palestine, has been trying to find a
There is a reason for such advice to be
place to live with his wife, who is Israeli. Ali
given: if you do so, when looking back into
met her in the only possible place where they
what was taking over your mind, it doesn’t
could have met: outside Jerusalem. When
seem so complicated any more. The issue
asked what the solution to the Israel-Palestine
that could have taken endless internal
conflict would be, Ali answered that in order
reflections gets solved in a few minutes
for Palestinians and Israelis to live together in
after you left it untouched for a while.
Jerusalem, they had to go out of that territory and come back later. They had to go to a place where they could solve their problems without a barrier that prohibits them to come together. At a very representative level the Israel-Palestine conflict got solved when they got married. The solution to the problem, according to Ali, was not to break the barrier that separates Jews and Arabs, but to go away from it first? The idea got into my head almost as powerfully as the Israel-Palestine conflict gets into media.
When thinking about MUWCI, a question popped into my mind: what if to solve our problems as a community we have to step out from what makes it imperfect? Nevertheless, we always aim to solve problems by pocking into them, by not letting them fade away no matter what. They arise at college meetings; are put up on the AQ common room; are discussed among students. I understand that as agents of change, change has to be constantly happening and I had never questioned that
Let’s look at it at a more basic level: our
notion until Ali exposed his idea. The
personal lives. Hasn’t it happened to you that
reason why at college or student meetings
you get so deeply affected by an issue that
we don’t really go in a progressive line but
reality becomes blurry? The more you focus,
more on waves and circles, might simply be
the less you see. “Don’t think about it right
because we discuss too much and act too
now” “Maintain yourself occupied” are just
some of the more common advices that you receive when you can’t cope with some problem.
The role of the student council is just an example of this.
Maybe the reason why it became so hard to define how the student council should function or if there should be one in the first place, was because after so many discussions, our view on the issue became limited and unclear. The solution to approach the issue was, precisely, to move away from it. We demolished whatever conception we had on the previous student council and built a new system. Maybe Ali is right. Palestinians and Israelis might have to go out of Jerusalem to live there together in the future. Maybe to solve some issues in MUWCI we just have to move away from them for some time, in the same way we sometimes have to stop thinking about our personal problems to find their solution. We might have to step out from the place where change is aimed for and walk to where change doesnâ€™t seem such an urgent need. Maybe then, when coming back with some fresh ideas without continuously questioning details, the world will become easier to change.
By Fernanda Uriegas
THE • END