Foundation Course Musings

On the face of it, we were just a couple of teachers and a bunch of students sitting around a table at MUWCI, talking about school, about going away to college, about the pleasures (and pains!) of meeting new people and dealing with strange food and unfamiliar weather. We all spoke English in sort of what I call the ‘UWC accent’, occasionally breaking into Marathi. Then suddenly, as one of the students was talking about how cold Iowa was and another laughed over how he seemed to have eaten only tomatoes for the first one year at UWC Adriatic, it struck me — what amazing journeys these young people had made, physically and culturally in the past few years! From small schools and villages in the Mulshi valley, rarely even venturing to the nearby city of Pune, all the way to the UWC programmes in Singapore, Pearson, Costa Rica, Adriatic, Netherlands… And then on to college in the USA or wherever…Would I have had the courage to take this huge leap, were I in their place, I wonder?

Curious as to whether the students begin to feel out of touch with the environments in which they grew up after living abroad– well, there is no denying that one can get used to no garbage, clean roads, flowing hot water and larger houses, right? — I ask: “How does it feel when you come back here to your village after being abroad for a few years?”

I get smiles in return and an answer that sums up everyone’s feelings: “It feels like home, what else?”

The students that I am talking about are those who have been part of the Pre-IB Foundation Course run at MUWCI, through Akshara. Many of them have been familiar with Akshara and MUWCI since their schooldays. This one-year Foundation Course (now residential since 2013-14) prepares students who have done well in the school-leaving exams, to prepare for the interview at the National Committee of India and try for a seat in the IB programme at one of the UWCs. This year, 2014-15, the Foundation Course has six students. They will work on language skills, refresh and deepen their Maths and Science, try to make some sense of ToK (!) and take part in all the other activities, in and out of the classroom, along with the MUWCI FY students. Wada life poses its own challenges and offers its own pleasures… But at the moment, though, the biggest challenge facing the six Foundation Course students seems to lie in trying to figure out one abiding mystery: Why does orientation week involve so much of MUD???

— Ujwala Samarth, Coordinator, Foundation Course

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