If Mathematics was a sport, I would say that it would be Marathon Running. Because, much like running a full, 42-KM marathon, Mathematics can be ruthless, punishing, and, on occasion, cruel, if you are forced to run the gauntlet unprepared. Much like a marathon, Mathematics is not something that can prepared for the night before exams; it requires constant, long-term practice and training to achieve the desired outcome. Also similarly to a marathon, during the exam, it is very possible that you will hit “The Wall”; a question or equation you simply forgot to study for, or otherwise lack the capabilities of solving. However, it is up to you to see if you will give up at “The Wall”, or persevere beyond it. Also similarly to a marathon, in mathematics, your better-prepared compadres will pass you on the race (exam), and there is little you can do to stop such. However, also similarly to a marathon, mathematics has the potential to delivering great satisfaction, especially in relation to the amount of time you have invested in practicing for it. This has been crucial to my maths experience this year, and has greatly expanded by appreciation of the subject. Even though mathematics can be difficult at times, it can also be a very rewarding experience, if you enter with the right mindset and commitment to learn.
My time living in Hong Kong (three years), has shown me what it’s like to be thrust into a hostile, completely foreign environment, and, by extension, has shown me the importance of being able to communicate with those around me. While my Chinese was (and still is), very poor, I like to think of my time in HK as not only highlighting the importance of linguistic flexibility, but also the importance of having an open mind to a foreign environment. This experience has stuck with all the way to today, and when I first moved to Singapore, I felt inclined to put it to good use. My experience in UWC thus far (being my third year here), has been overwhelmingly positive, on all aspects. Be it academic, or social, or service-based, as an education institution, UWC has excelled in almost all areas. But, perhaps the most intriguing element of UWC was the aspect of community-building and service that it cultivated within me, as a learner. Service has always been a large part of the UWC curriculum, as we work on it since Elementary school, but it takes an especially important role in high school, where high schooler are expected not only to work with teachers in our services and Global Concerns, but also to take initiative, and work on our own, to quite literally “be the change we want to see in the world”. This can be seen all around our high school, in the plethora of student-led service initiatives that have been both supported and encouraged by the school such as the Infenergy project. The reason this is so crucial to high school is that it is the reflection of what high-school in UWC is all about; growth and initiative. With such a wide variety of facilities and tools at our disposal, students are actually encouraged to work hard to turn their dreams into a reality. High school may have appeared overwhelming at first glance, especially given the new classes that students choose (in my case Drama as an Art and History as a Humanities subject), and the ever-present looming threat of end-of-year exams. However, over time, I’ve found I’ve adapted quite well to the high school environment. Being considered “mature” gives me astounding freedom in my work methods and processes, and has allowed me to progress considerably as a learner. Even with exams right around the corner (next week, to be precise), I’m feeling considerably more relaxed about them now than I was at the start of the year; yet another piece of evidence that shows just how much high-school has affected me. And, as corny and overused as it sounds, the “growth mindset” that the school has been encouraging us to adopt over time has helped me improve a lot, as a learner, too. When I get a subjectively “bad” grade that doesn’t live up to my expectations, I don’t feel the same shame or sorrow as I did before; instead, high school has taught be to expend more of my energy on improving myself. Finding what I did wrong in the grade, and improving on it, so I can succeed next time. This has also helped me manage my workload considerably, as I can no longer get “stuck in a rut”, and am always moving forwards, as a learner and, more importantly, as a person. This constant focus on growth and self-improvement, coupled with the increasing challenges that a new set of classes and an increasing workload, has, in a sense, “forced” me to adapt to the challenge of a new environment, and I am grateful to this school year for having pushed me out of my comfort zone, and, as a consequence of such, I have grown greatly as both a student and a learner.