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November/December 2013


THANK YOU USHA RAJARAM! Our very best wishes to Usha who is leaving the College after 10 years of dedicated service, support and enthusiasm to our students, alumni and to the UWC movement. She has welcomed generations of students into her fold and taught them much more than English literature. Through passion and conviction, you asked students to understand the world around them, to be critical of the status quo and to take a stance for what they believed in. You will be missed but we wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours. We are sure that you will inspire more people to become greater than they ever thought they could be. Thank you for your eternal smile and positivity. You will be so missed.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Message from the Head of College Welcoming our homestay families



Tribal Brass Casting Workshop


My First Term at MUWCI


Africa & Middle East Regional Evening


A Tale of Two Exeats p.11-12 A New Family on Campus


Alumni Stories: Fighting Fires


Farewell to Nelson Mandela p.17

All Rights Reserved. Design & photographs by Ra誰sa Mirza/UWC Mahindra College

MESSAGE FROM THE HEAD OF COLLEGE What a pleasure it has been at the end of a very busy first semester, to turn from the regular curriculum to focus on the topic of Human Rights in the last week. Across the academic spectrum teachers and students have been considering how relevant areas of their curriculum relate to this topic: Debates and ethical investigations, TOK questions of knowledge, presentations on prejudice and discrimination, discussions about whether Human Rights can be universal, about whether they are simply a tool of new empire and the corporate liberation theology, described by Arundhati Roy as “justice for the rich and human rights for the poor�, making poverty, hunger, and the victims of war the inevitable casualties of structural violence. Amnesty International is making a renaissance at MUWCI! Past generations of students please reconnect and offer your stories. Welcome all night letter writing campaigns, vigils and action. Peace building workshops and MUWCI Olympics! We have bikes back on campus and a dedicated repair workshop. We have paddled up the river to the dam, hiked overnight and discussed poetry for breakfast. Global Affairs is thriving, so is Global Politics, an IB HL which we are piloting. We continue to move towards the development of a Project Based Diploma, drawing on ESS and systems thinking, maybe including design technology as we build our capacity to learn in teams, by experience and to create solutions to real problems. Our vision for 2022, V22 includes trying to rebuild our infrastructure towards sustainability at least in our use of water and energy, seeking to make our curriculum relevant to the needs of our students and trying to raise funds so that students are all selected on merit without regard to parental income. We also have identified the need to upgrade our staff accommodation. Akshara is flourishing with 450 children in the Mulshi valley being supported in their education. This year we took 7 Akshara students into the UWC foundation year, making a total of 26 Akshara students supported with full scholarships by the range of UWC schools and colleges. Our Triveni programme is being overhauled as we question our capacity to help and seek to engage more meaningfully in the local community with heads, hands and hearts. A group of alumni asked for transparency and we will deliver, the walls of our offices are now made of glass, students attend all our meetings and our annual reports will provide the details of how we spend our money. Money we need because we believe in what we are doing and know that without it we will fail. It is raining! in December because Usha Rajaram is leaving us and moving to a new adventure in Bangalore. Keep in touch and we wish you a festive and relaxing December and, for returning faculty and students: Well done! thank you for your engagement and sleep very well!

Pelham Lindfield Roberts 2

WELCOMING OUR HOMESTAY FAMILIES I’m standing there, on stage. Next to me Pratiksha and in front of me a microphone and behind that microphone hundreds of faces: Old and young, excited and tired, men, women, children. The whole colourfulness of the villages around our college seems to gather here. And I have the privilege to make all these people smile with a simple word: Danyavadh. Thank you. Thank you for opening your houses for us. Thank you for opening your hearts and welcoming us and showing us some more about the community, we live in. Danyavadh. by Niklas Roggenbuck (Germany/Class of 2015)


TRIBAL BRASS CASTING WORKSHOP Mid-November, the art students worked with an organization called ‘Devrai Art Village’. Mr. Suresh Pungati with his father and co-workers introduced their own unique, traditional way of brass casting. As we welcomed them with curiosity, they received our keen interest with smile and patience. They didn’t speak English at all; however, the language barrier that existed was meaningless as we conversed through art. We as art students gained one of the most interesting experience by not only watching the process but also indulging in the process. I’m sure this workshop made us realize how we can approach art in different ways and the hard, long, sweat-taking job involved behind every small art piece made. It was certainly a good, challenging hands-on learning experience. by June Soo Shin (Class of 2014/Korea) pictured above 5

One of my happiest moments in MUWCI this term is to work with the artists who are form Devrai art village and to learn how to make wonderful brass castes from them. But the most important thing that I learn from them is how to be patient as well as fall in love with what I am doing at the present. Thank you for everyone who make this happen, I really enjoy working with those artists! by Zidiao Lin (Class of 2015/China) pictured to the right



A whole term has gone, three months have passed, thousands of memories have been created and 239 friends have been made. Being in an UWC is no longer a dream, now more than ever, is a reality and what we think of this place has either met or disappoint our expectations. What we thought it was like too much time away from home it now seems like a blink of eyes and it might be at this time of the year that the anxiety of not knowing how the next term is going to be like or if we are spending our time in MUWCI wisely is eating us away. One term has gone, as a first year it just means that things are starting to get serious, even though most of us think they already are. For the second years, however, the finale of this term means something completely different: the beginning of the end. Not so long ago I heard a metaphor about MUWCI that stuck to my head… “MUWCI is a shooting star” and I couldn’t agree more with it, despite the fact that I am just finishing my first term. In fact, that makes me even more sure about it, if right now this place feels like my home, if I ask people “are you going home?” instead of “are you going to your wada”, and if I have gone through things with my friends that I have never been through before, I cannot imagine how this place is going to feel like in two years. Even though it seems like a lot MUWCI is this ephemeral experience, MUWCI is this period of growth and learning, a period of time that gives you the tools to face the real world in the future. 7

As an attempt to understand what this term has meant to me, I tried to list all the events, 7 talks and even lectures that in a way seemed important. However, while doing this I realized that, even though they had brought knowledge to me, my night talks with friends or casual discussions during lunch time were not at all less important than classes or guest speakers. In fact, these situations have influenced a lot my perspective of what MUWCI is and I think that is what makes an UWC different from any other school: you don’t stop. You have Trivenis to attend, meetings to go to, things to organize, homework and still you find time to talk with your friends and just discuss about something you disagreed on during Global Politics class or finish an argument that couldn’t during your English lesson. MUWCI is not a single thing, MUWCI is the combination of little details that make this place amazing. In conclusion, what has the first term meant to me? It has mean confusion, clarifications, frustrations, memories, friends, growth, too many things for just three months. I think I speak for many when I say that we come to MUWCI with this general idea of who we are or what do we want to do, but once you go through the gates of MUWCI you understand what this whole world is made of, you understand how big the world is and how many possibilities you have never considered before. You learn from students, you get inspired by teachers and you start creating things once you put everything together. by Maria Jimena Jurado (Class of 2015/Colombia)


An evening of the some of the most exotic places on mother earth placed together on a stage, what could be better?. The energy, pomp, humour, life and colour were simply awe-inspiring. It seemed near unimaginable the richness of culture and history that had conglomerated together to tantalize the school body’s cultural palette. The stage was set from the word ‘go’ as the theme to introduce the evening had been “African safari and Arabian nights”; truly, the best of both worlds. Entertainingly, the night of splendid performances began with an ensemble of dramatized dance, and simple freestyle dance to the iconic “circle of life” song mashed up with the Nigerian pop song “Kukere”. It started off from a more familiar setting to the audience before diving deeper into the well of diversity and tradition as well as comical performances that had been planned for that evening. A grand myriad of short performances ensued that left the audience in stitches, as well as educated them on the wonders of Mama Africa and Marvelous Middle East far beyond the stereotypes some may have had on such amazing parts of the world. The photos speak for themselves, with the vibrancy, and sheer energy from that single evening resonating throughout the campus far more than for the brief show. In retrospect, acknowledging the input and simultaneous fun most participants got from the evening, it is a sad fact that the night could not have lasted longer. From the exhilarating sounds, dance and poetry from South Africa, to the African moves on the dance floor from Zambia; progressing to the Central and East African traditionally named ‘Lingala’ and ‘Giriama’ dances. That was not nearly the end of it, since the Arabian wonders had yet to be shown, arising from an astounding belly dance to a satirical skit on the treatment of Arabs at the airport that was contrasted well with the skit on the truly African “lion king”. Furthermore to add sugar to the sugarcane (an African saying) we had an incredible Mauritian “Sega” dance that left the audience mesmerized that was only matched by the motions of the remarkable Turkish dance. It drew to a close with the thrilling music from the Arabian world, encompassing the vigor we had embodied throughout the evening as we filled the stage; drawing in the audience with us. An amazing end to an amazing night of fun. Superb is the only word close to summarize the culture, sights and most importantly the people of the AMAZING MAMA AFRICA AND MARVELOUS MIDDLE EAST. by Ian Ishmael Irungu (Class of 2015/Kenya)



“Every semester, we leave campus on Exeat, an extended weekend to learn more about India and in ways other than what the IB offers. Over the Diwali break, four of us went to northern Maharashtra with our Economics teacher/Outdoor Education coordinator -Arvin- to hike the peaks of Alang, Madan and Kulang. Many call this hike the toughest in the region; as my inaugural introduction into what Arvin simply calls, “trekking”, it was quite an intense and different experience! I constantly had to deal with uncertainty and fear while rappelling, traversing and rock climbing, but because of this, I believe I gained some valuable knowledge. I came to a new understanding of my fears and weaknesses: they are not something to run away from or be accepted, instead they should be a source of motivation and the goal of their elimination should be something to strive for. “ by Jackson Sales (Class of 2015/USA) Photos by Arvin Singh Dang (Outdoor Education Coordinator/UWCSEA alumnus)


In the day-to-day bustle of MUWCI life, I sometimes overlook the communities in the surrounding valley. My interaction with the neighboring villages usually consists of exchanging namastes with staff members and conversational English with local students as part of the Triveni program. Hence, when invited me to celebrate Diwali in my classmate Sonali’s home in Khubavali, I eagerly accepted this opportunity to engage more deeply with the wider community. At her house, I attempted to assist Sonali’s grandmother in making a pumpkin dessert typically eaten during Diwali. As she fried them, she offered me several samples to taste and I happily obliged. Later that evening, I joined Sonali and her siblings, relatives, neighbors, and friends in celebrating Diwali with eruptions of light and sound. During my stay, I was welcomed into the Khubavali community, into a community built on generations of cooperation and trust. Into India’s heart. by Ritika Philip (Class of 2014/India & China) Photos by Shafa Fatimath (Class of 2014/Maldives)


A NEW FAMILY ON CAMPUS As the first term comes to a close we prepare to welcome four additional members into our home atop the hill. Shankar, his wife Anita, and their twin boys, Shyam and Arnav will be moving onto campus and will live alongside us when we return from December break. Shankar, the school librarian who has been working with MUWCI for the past ten years, has long since been an integral member of this community. His invaluable and admirable service by way of his help in the library is not only done well, but also with joy. Many students see the library as a sanctuary, be it because of the air-conditioned environment or the quiet solitude it provides, but also because of Shankar’s warm smile and calm demeanor that have an uncanny way of brightening one’s day. Anita also has had a presence in this community in her contributions and help with the paper making triveni. Although both already have the love of this community and a presence in it, we are excited to have them and their children living more closely to us in the months to come. With the difficult situation the family faces arising from the twins’ cerebral palsy, we hope the move onto campus will alleviate some of the stress Shankar and Anita feel by allowing us to take a more active role in helping our fellow community members. As the family becomes an integral part of MUWCI life we hope to see students engaging with the children and helping and supporting in their care. Additionally, a student-led fundraiser campaign has already been mounted in order to purchase specialized wheelchairs and pay for regular physiotherapy (insert link). As life goes on atop the hill we are excited to see new members join us. Let us welcome Shankar, Anita, Shyam and Arnav with enthusiasm and open arms! by Jackson Sales (Class of 2015/USA)


ALUMNI STORIES LITERALLY FIGHTING FIRES Not too long ago I received an email from my Dad that simply read: “You should be out fighting fires...”. Nothing more to give it context, just that single phrase and an ellipsis. However, amongst its brevity, an old memory came back to me: I was tired, beaten up, dehydrated, exhausted, spent, and bit demoralized. Water couldn’t quench my thirst. I was on the brink of fainting and all I could do was lay back in the grass and breath. With eyes closed I could hear the world unfolding around me; the crackling of fire in the distance, shouts of my teammates rallying to the flame, and birds as they evacuated their homes in the trees. Under the shade of my eyelids I imagined the scene unfolding. Fires tore up the side of the mountain, leaving most of the hillside in ash, meanwhile an alarm rang out from a nearby school that perched on the hill. A make shift fire fighting team put on their gear--simple shirts, jeans, goggles, and fire proof gloves--and ran out to meet the ascension. Armed with only “beaters” (bamboo poles and metal slab on top) they formed groups and began to eliminate the fire where they could. The sounds of the battle were those of yelling, the crackling of fire, and the smacking of metal against ground. In unison the fighters approached their target, and in a violent dance the flames continued to move faster and faster forward. Each bit of progress was met with a greater challenge. I heard my teammates shouting in the distance asking for help and I pulled myself up. In my haze I was forced to regain a grasp on the situation. 101 degrees of Indian summer slammed into my forehead. Soon I would join the rest in our continued effort to subdue the wildfire as it spread out towards our lonely campus. I breathed deep the token subtleties of exhaustion with each strike at the fire, sweat dripped into my goggles, blood on my tongue, smoke enveloped my body. Each strike was something of a burning in me to battle this opponent. Each time I pushed the beater into the base of the fire it was a signal to my team that we could do better. With each shout we used the very nature of our foe against the expanding lines of flames. To fight fire with fire...” I never saw that statement as a prescription for actual technique, rather as something internal. It was a statement that spoke of something within us all, an internal flame that burns brighter if we give it kindling. The fire that blazes brightest in the heat of danger, that glows outwardly when we meet inspiration, that grows and grows with cultivation.


I looked out in front of me at the hot, smoking ash of a minor victory. One fire was beaten out, sweat continued to drip down my face and a growing sense of potential victory enveloped my team. I saw the worn out faces of a mishap band of warriors who knew that this fire was only one of many but drew strength from the silence that echoed out with that final beater strike. When we ran at that fire there was nothing that would stop it besides that odd internal fire. No fire was ever extinguished in absence of that inner flame. Every fire we approach must be met with an equal or greater burning passion that allows us to look into the heat and grasp an extra breath, take one more step, and to push against the challenges that threaten to knock us to the ground. Back on the hill we indulged in a moments rest and swigs of warm water. Soon we were running together to the next front. Gathering once again the radiant intensity that allowed us to fight; both the fire and our own dragging spirits. In rest we still fight, in peace we are still at war. We are always battling with ideas and concepts in our mind, we are never finished in the struggle for ourselves, our own identity. We are all warriors, to some extent, in an interior battle for the fate of our very lives. Morals versus desires, emotions versus rationale. The victor of this endless encounter can and will only be decided by our own struggle. That inner fire is our only light in that realm, and by its light we walk through shadows and fight. Warriors searching for some small measure of inner peace that we all deserve. Warriors that cultivate a passion like an ember and mindfulness like a sword. Warriors, as long as we are continuously fighting for the things we care for. No matter what that is. “To fight fire with fire� means that even in my complete and hopeless fatigue I must I look directly into the approaching wildfire as it races forward, matching its intensity with determination, its heat with fire, and its authority with force. I will burn, burn, and burn until there is nothing left of me but humble ashes and a story of my existence. by Connor Douglas Bouchard-Sanchez Roberts (Class of 2012)


UWC Mahindra College staff, students, Board of Directors and alumni are deeply saddened by the passing of Nelson Mandela, the honorary President of the UWC movement. We remember the legacy of a leader who, through his actions, lived many of the values that we wish to instill in our students- personal responsibility, integrity, compassion, service, idealism, action and personal example. We are proud that Mr. Mandela’s children and grandchildren were educated at our sister school, UWC Waterford Kamhlaba, showing his belief in and commitment to the work we do. “His life has been a profound inspiration to millions around the world and to the United World College movement,” says Head of College Pelham Lindfield Roberts. “His passing allows us an opportunity to consider the sacrifices made around the world by the many people who take action everyday for the human dignity of others, and suffer, as Mandela did, but also make to a difference and a positive change in the world.” The greatest testament we could give is to continue the work we do as a UWC, bringing people together regardless of their skin color, gender, race, caste, class, politics or sexual orientation but rather on their potential and capacity as human beings, to make a better life for their communities and the world at large. We send our heartfelt condolences to every member of Nelson Mandela’s family and his friends and celebrate with them the life of a true hero of our times.

December 2013 newsletter  

The end of a very busy first term here at UWC Mahindra College.