On one of the four “Project Weeks” Mahindra United world College incorporates into the academic year, a group of students including myself were able to travel to the state of Chattisgarh (formerly a part of a Madhya Pradesh) to work with a non-governmental organization (NGO) called Rupantar. This organization was started by one Dr. Binayak Sen and currently works with communities which have been marginalized in the process of development. It works in the areas of health, gender, biodiversity and has had considerable success in helping communities which have not been reached by government programs and that are largely neglected by society. A major issue that has crippled Rupantar is the imprisonment of Dr. Binayak Sen who is an integral part of the organisation under the state’s Public Security draconian laws in May 2007. In the short 10 day period that our group worked and helped Rupantar, we saw the kind of work that the NGO does. More importantly however we were exposed to the controversial issues surrounding the imprisonment of Dr. Binayak Sen.
“What if?” seems to be the choice phrase on the MUWCI campus today. It is whispered in the cafeteria, muttered in the classrooms, and discussed in our houses. “What if it had happened two days later, when MUWCI students would have been enjoying a meal at Leopold’s Café, or using the toilet in luxury at the Taj Hotel, or trying to find a train at Victoria Terminus? What if we had been there when it happened?” As horrifying as these thoughts are, in the current situation no “what ifs” are needed to create a general sense of terror and loss: what really did occur is frightening enough on its own.
Beginning around 10pm Indian time on Wednesday the 26th of November, a group of approximately 80 highly armed terrorists raked havoc on India’s economic capitol, the megacity of Mumbai, located approximately 160 km from MUWCI. Their focus seemed to be on symbols of decadence and foreign involvement in India: the places attacked included the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, two of the most luxurious establishments in the city, Leopold’s Café, a favored haunt for generations of backpackers (and MUWCI students) and Mumbai’s central railway station, near the tourist hub of the city, in addition to the headquarters of a Jewish outreach group in Mumbai. There were also reports of attacks on hospitals, a cinema and an office building. In all, over 100 people have been reported dead, and over 300 reported injured. A previously unknown group called the “Deccan Mujahideen” has taken responsibility, although no major news source has been able to confirm this.
Although bomb blasts are unfortunately not infrequent in India (earlier this school year both Delhi and the northeastern state of Assam were hit), this situation was different both because of its magnitude and its targets. In addition to bombings, hostage situations emerged at both the Taj and Oberoi hotels. Gunmen stormed the popular tourist neighborhood of Colaba (where both the Taj and Leopold’s are located), and the city, including its stock market, Sensex, sat silent and motionless. At least 11 police officers were killed, as well as the head of the anti-terrorist unit of Mumbai. Foreign citizens were primary targets: the terrorists seemed to be hunting down Westerners, those with US and British passports were singled out during the hostage situations at the two hotels, and Israelis were targeted through the attack on the Jewish Outreach Center.
The impacts this will have on the MUWCI campus are as of yet unseen, despite the rather obvious ban from leaving the immediate area until the situation “calms down” and the cancelation of the upcoming “exeat” (double overnight, during which most students head for Mumbai) weekend. For the moment, we are safe on top of our hill, anxiously reading reports on both the situation itself, as well as the implications for Indian foreign policy and international relations in the wake of the attacks. There have been reports of possible implications for Indian-Pakistan relations as well as communal relations within India.
Amanda Lanzillo (MUWCI 2009)
As students of Mahindra United World College of India, we have been affiliated with “Wake up Pune”, a coalition of NGOs who combine their abilities to provide awareness for, and fight HIV/AIDS, in the villages around our campus and in Pune itself. In the past we have been involved in music concerts and lectures, but we felt that we could do something to help on a larger scale.
Rather than organizing an HIV/AIDS walk or run, we wanted to do something that is less common, more striking, and that would continue to bring awareness to the cause long after the actual event. This project, we decided, would be head shaving. 20 girls from Mahindra United World College of India sacrificed their hair on 3rd March to raise awareness and funds for the needs of HIV/AIDS patients in Pune.
We are raising money for the Deep Griha HIV/AIDS clinic. This organization works in Pune, a large city in Maharasthra, India, where an estimated 1.8% of the population is infected with HIV/AIDS. The medical care that they provide for HIV/AIDS patients, and the support that they give, are essential for many HIV+ people in Pune who do not have the ability to pay for treatments. Of the money that we raise, about $30 a day will cover general medication expenses for HIV related infections for the HIV+ people in two of the larger slums in Pune. This medication helps patients maintain their immune systems and reduce the risk of the virus developing into AIDS.
For the next few months, each time someone asks one of the 20 international girls (from 16 different countries) why they shaved their head, our response will continue to raise awareness and support Deep Griha.
In addition, to see that the hair didnot go to waste, we sent the sacrificed hair to “Locks of Love”, an organization that provides wigs for children with hair loss diseases.
Money is still being collected for the clinic and donations are collected through the following website http://www.smartgive.com/showpublicevent.php?url=thegirlsgobald. We thought it would be a nice idea for someone from each of the UWCs to take the initiative to raise money and make a donation from their college. The donations are made online through a credit card transaction and the website makes the transaction extremely easy. Our current target is £6000 and we have £4621, we’re almost there!!!!
The MUWCI Tenth Anniversary Celebration required much accommodation and preparation by MUWCI students, faculty and staff, but ultimately occurred without any major problems and was useful in bringing attention to the school and hopefully interest from those with the ability to provide scholarships. Continue reading
Every prologue reflects an epilogue
Every light submerges into darkness
Every sunrise beseeches a sunset
Every drop of blood lost and sweat sacrificed wakes up to success
Every tear is defeated by celebration of joy
Every sin redeems or faces divine retribution
Every life in death attains salvation
…………… Every journey culminates in a destination
And life come a full circle!
Life is a journey encompassing all- all types of experiences, all types of people. Every happy thing has an end and likewise every unhappy experience also doesn’t live for long.
The 10th anniversary party was on Sunday, from 8 pm till check-in. And it was lots of fun. Though it started off pretty mildly, with pleasant little chitchats on beanbags all over the place, it ended loud and vibrant. I was with the rest of the Grease cast at the mph steps and when we weren’t on stage, we were singing along or dancing – the music was that loud; and I’m sure nobody was any worse for it.
Here at MUWCI, work had begun on a proposed “UWC diploma.” This diploma would distinguish the UWCs from other IB international schools, and aims to better emphasized UWC ideals through a curriculum. The hope is that this diploma would eventually replace IB, although at the present time it is still in very preliminary stages.
The UWC diploma would differ from the IB diploma in that it would feature a project significantly larger than the extended essay, which would most likely involve several weeks spent researching off campus. In addition, students would reduce from six core classes to four, and take small supplementary classes to aid them with their project and make up for classes lost in reducing from six to four. The four classes would most likely, but not necessarily, be chosen from the IB curriculum: if national courses were deemed appropriate there would be the possibility of using them towards the diploma as opposed to IB certificates. At the present time, the working curriculum is divided up into three areas: academic challenge, social responsibility and personal growth.
Much of the debate within the UWC diploma working group has come around the area of assessment. The possibility of assessing “personal growth,” has raised several problems. At the present time, the diploma would be assessed in several ways: within each area a student would receive a letter grade, and they would also receive a cumulative number grade specifically for their academic work. Importantly, students’ diploma would also feature comments from mentors that had worked closely with the student throughout the process.
Although the UWC diploma is still in its preliminary stages, it is something that is likely to become more important to the UWC movement in the near future. MUWCI hopes to introduce a pilot program to test the diploma within the next year, and the diploma will also be presented to the UWC board at the MUWCI 10th Year Anniversary Celebration. It is a major step to take, because the UWC and IB have been wedded for so long, and would certainly signify a new path for the movement.
- United World College Student Magazine -
Whether having seized the opportunity of going home or travelling through India, coming back on campus seemed hardly attractive to most of us. Work loads still waiting for us as we hadn’t taken the last few weeks of school too serious, more sleep deprivation and caf-food for – what might sometimes seem – the rest of our lives. However, meeting your friends, and the whole charm of the buzzing, loud and restless campus life soon captured us, and especially a lot of the first-years made the pleasant experience of returning to a place somewhat close to home.
Besides academics (Group 4, IA-s, and whatsoever), we also have the 10th Anniversary Celebrations coming up, theatre week and somewhere mixed in between Exeat-Weekends and in less than two months: Project Week!
It’s been a week since we brought our luggage-loads of home food, but it already seems like a month…and we are back, sleep deprived, permanently hungry and once more incredibly idealistic!
It is dinner time, the students of the Mahindra United World College of India are hungry and come to their Cafeteria. But today’s dinner is somehow different: It is dark but everywhere there are white candles lighted. They frame messages like “There is not enough food in the world to feed everyone.” or “212,000,000 Indians suffer under chronical hunger.”
Due to the International Human Rights Day at 10th of December, the Human Rights Group dedicates a whole week to Human Rights Issues. Members of the group explain the college community the significance of the plain rice tonight and the people that serve the food in unusual clothes: Rags.
Of course not everybody is enthusiastic about this idea. Some students do not miss to show the others how much they miss the proper dinner tonight. But this criticism encourages the human rights group even more. In conversations they try to clarify an important point: “You must eat this for only one night. Some innocent people have to eat this – or even less – every day.
The situation is Darfur is extremeley critical. This conflict in Western Sudan that is more inspired by ethnic and tribal rather than religious reasons caused more than 300,000 deaths since the beginning of the conflict (estimated by British Parliamentary Report). 2,500,000 human beings have become refugees. To demonstrate these numbers that are actually impossible to imagine the human rights group made up a special project for the International Human Rights Day. They took the total population of the Darfur area which is about 6.5 million people and calculated the percentage numbers of killed and displaced people. It was amazing to see the many black and red crosses at people’s foreheads at the end of the day.
Both teachers and students were thinking about the alarming pieces of news pensively. And this is what the group wanted to reach.
Julian (17) comes from Germany and is a 1st-year at the Mahindra United World College of India.
- United World College Student Magazine -
Chronicles of A Conjunctivitis Casualty
By Meghan Koushik
The recent conjunctivitis epidemic has spared no one. It all started when Jall contracted it in Bombay during Exeat, and passed it on to his fellow travelers, and it hasn’t stopped spreading since. This is a shortened chronicle of my week-and-a-half-long sojourn in the med center.
I awake in the morning with a strange itchy sensation in my eye. As I stumble, bleary-eyed, towards the bathroom mirror, I vaguely wonder why my lashes are semi caked shut, but my brain is too sleepy to comprehend that I shall soon be one of the red-eyed zombies inhabiting the hallows of the med center. Upon gazing at my admittedly not-so-perfect reflection, I discover to my horror that one of my eyes now matches the color of the caf’s tomato soup. Without pausing to think, only grabbing my i-pod, I race towards the med center in hopes that the god of medical matters, a.k.a. the doctor, will have some sort of magic medicine that will restore my eyes to their former whiteness.
The doctor, upon seeing my condition, pronounces the dreaded word, ‘ISOLATION’. Three days (at least). One room. No visitors. What atrocity did I commit in my last life that I should be made to suffer so?
But on entering the room, I’m thrilled to realize that I’m not alone, that my two of my fellow exeat companions too, have eyes that resemble something from a horror movie.
My eyes burn. I sleep, praying that I will be greeted, on waking, with eyes white as snow.
The toll reaches five. The nurse, our single connection to the outside world, enters to put midmorning drops in our eyes. Within seconds, the room is full of screams of ‘TISSUES!!! WHO THE HELL HAS THE TISSUES??’ as we desperately try to prevent the runoff from entering our ears. After five minutes of lying down (to increase the amount of fluid going into the eyes), everyone gags as the taste of the drops enters their throat, a flavor much worse than anything the caf could provide.
The day passes by. Some sleep. Some stare at the ceiling. All pray for deliverance. Or at least permission to use their laptops.
At night, the nurse comes by to test out a new form of torture. An thick, gooey, ointment that glues our eyelids together, completely disabling us of our vision. Within minutes, the room is silent, as people drift off to sleep, aided by their tightly glued eyelids and the soothingly dimmed lights of the room.
As our roommates succumb as well, we become eight. The med center is filled to capacity, and we hear of infected second years, with their SATs in a few days, refusing to stay in the med center with all us ‘severe’ cases and being accommodated in the nurse’s quarters instead. Its official: it’s an epidemic. And our allotted three days are up, but our eyes show no signs of recovery. No, now my right eye is as inflamed as my left eye is, and the disgusting yellow pus shows no signs of reducing. The doctor tells us that it’s a case of viral conjunctivitis, and congratulations, it’s the first ever case in MUWCI. We should be so proud.
Ah, mealtimes. The few minutes of every day that we are allowed to see the outside world, albeit momentarily. But then we realize to our dismay, that whether there are two, or twenty ill people in the med, we receive virtually the same amount of food, and the banality of the cafeteria daal, bad enough on ordinary days, gets downright depressing when combined with inflamed eyes.
It’s 6:45. Much past lunch, but too early for dinner. And the eight of us are starving. When we ask the maid for some form of nourishment, she comes back bearing a large white plate. For a few seconds, we are delighted, envisioning platters of delicious tidbits. But on that vast whiteness is placed exactly eight Marie biscuits. We fall back on our pillows, the disappointment too great to bear. But then, we receive succor. Our uncontaminated friends on the outside world respond magnificently to our online pleas. (God bless the wireless in the med center) and come, bearing bottles of Coke, Kit-Kats, and packets of chocolate bourbons. We fall on the food like people deprived of nourishment for days together. Just as we finish pigging out, the maid comes in, and announces that dinner is finally here.
Sometimes it seems as though we’ll never be out. With ten people now in the same room and two extra beds squeezed in, it seems like the epidemic will never end. The blank baby-blue walls of the med finally seem to be getting to everyone. ‘There’s a hospital in Bombay,’ Someone-who-refuses-to-be-named mentions contemplatively. ‘It’s called the Bombay hospital.’ ‘There is silence for a moment. Then we burst into near-hysterical laughter. Is this the effect of the drops, or can isolation for nearly a week actually drive you insane?
The first victims are finally released. They stumble out into the blinding sunlight, scarcely able to believe that their troubles have ended. But it’s only then that we realize that our troubles have only just begun, as we have, in fact, missed, an entire week of school, a fact that our co-years take great pleasure in constantly reminding us about. On seeing us, they start rejoicing in our release, follow it up with, ‘Oh, did I mention we have a math test tomorrow on everything we’ve done since the beginning of term? But don’t worry, it can’t be any worse than the biology test you missed yesterday, or the English presentation we all did the day before……… ‘
What a wonderful welcome-back to MUWCI!
- United World College Student Magazine –
With or without Wi-Fi?
One of the most frequently debated topics on campus these days is whether we, at MUWCI, need to be even more technologically advanced and than we already are. How, you might ask? By getting wireless network connections available in every corner of MUWCI including our rooms.
While some of the more intellectual people on campus instantly heralded this move as an excuse to spend even more time studying locked away in their rooms, others are cursing the MUWCI tech team for trying to curb the social life our campus is known for.
‘People are just getting lazier. They can’t spend five extra minutes walking to the IT centre instead of wasting valuable money on internet access in the rooms?’ says Sam.
He isn’t alone. A large section of people feel that students have been surviving just fine all these years without internet access in their rooms. As someone pointed out, it’s a two-second walk from your room to the courtyard, where internet access is already available.
‘We’re creating necessities that aren’t even needed. The IT budget should be revised so that the extra money can be used for something else,’ points out Jana.
So if we shouldn’t have spent the money on wi-fi what should we have spent it on? Popular answers included further financial aid to the Pre Akshara program, or repairing the washing machines and dryers in the common rooms.
But a vast majority of the campus is trilled to finally be getting wi-fi in their rooms.
‘This is awesome. It will be easier for the work: we can do our work in our rooms, finish what we have to do faster, so that we can go and socialize in the common rooms or in the social centre. And so, maybe, finally now the common rooms will look like a place to socialize rather than a second IT centre. Plus it’s not like we can return the hardware and still not make a loss anymore’, according to Joao and Ludiwien.
‘I think its great that we can finally be able to work in our rooms…it’ll help me meet all those deadlines and I can finally work in peace,’ said one particularly harassed looking second year.
Therese thinks calling home will now be easier and more convenient. ‘With the time difference, sometimes we can’t make calls because it’s too late to go outside. Having wi-fi in the rooms will let us call home whenever we want on skype’. She’s not the only one, few of the students we interviewed believe that it will be more convenient and private to check our mails and communicate with home.
These were the main points of those who really want wi-fi in the rooms, and the ones of those who were completely against it. But what about those who don’t really mind, those who will be happy with or without it. Like the ones who don’t have laptops or, for instance Samira: ‘Wi-fi ?! he’s not a cute guy! …so why should I think about it!”
And what about those who say that wi-fi in rooms will just make us anti-social and kill the flourishing party culture at MUWCI?
‘I doubt it. I think we’re just giving anti-social people another reason to be antisocial. If you really want to be antisocial, you’ll find a way. Internet access in rooms won’t change that.’ Says Saim.
And finally, a word of advice to those who remain resolute against letting internet into their rooms. As Sambit says, ‘just disable it!’
- United World College Student Magazine –
The One Day Enterprise
As many of you know, recently, on Sunday, the 8th of October, a shop was opened in Wada 4 – House 11, by two second years – Manzil and Marlon. In my article, I meant to ask them about how the shop was running and their plans for its future. However, I soon learnt, to my dismay, that the shop had no future. It was forced to shut down! Well, I went ahead anyway, and talked to them about why it had opened, and why it had closed…My interview with them was as follows:
Abhijit: So, guys, what gave you the idea of setting up a shop?
Manzil & Marlon: Well, basically, one night when Marlon and I stayed up late, we were feeling damn hungry, and we had no food at all. And that night we were studying economics, about firms and stuff…then we just came up with the idea of having a shop that could sell food, at night, since many people stay up late, and the coffee shop closes at 8:30, they’d probably like having something to eat… (And I guess we had the right idea, since we got approximately 80 customers on our opening night!)
A: What plans did you guys have for the shop you set up?
MM: We had this really great plan of making it a huge CS. We thought of expanding it a lot, increase investment into it. We hoped to make it a place where students could come and get cheap, yet good food. We wanted it to have this warm and homely environment, unlike the coffee shop.
A: So, your shop has been shut down. Why?
MM: Well, Wilkinson said that RKHS had filed a formal, written complaint to him saying that the shop was violating its business rights.
A: So, you just shut down? There was nothing you could do?
MM: Well, Wilkinson told us that he appreciated our innovativeness, but since RKHS had written a formal complaint, there wasn’t anything he could do, and that the shop would have to shut down. Then…yeah, we shut down, we didn’t want to cause any sort of trouble, you know.
A: Do you think such kind of student initiative is being discouraged?
MM: Yeah, we do. I mean, there are no real rules stating that we aren’t allowed to do this kind of thing. We spent our entire project week money funding this enterprise. When we went to Pune, we took so much trouble, going from shop to shop and actually buying all the equipment, food and other stuff… RKHS has had too much power over Dr. Wilkinson in this case. He’s being too sensitive about not offending them…
A: Do you think the treatment you guys received was unfair?
MM: Definitely. I mean we opened the shop with good intentions. We didn’t want to take away RKHS’s business or anything. And if they feel ‘threatened’ by a small shop run by guys in the loft of a room, they don’t deserve to be a monopoly.
MM: I really don’t get why they would be ‘threatened’ by us. I mean, our shops our run at different times. Even if, somebody did like our food better, if they’re hungry at 5:00, they’re not going to wait until 11:00 just to buy our food. It really makes no sense.
A: Any last comments? Are you hopeful about changes taking place in the future?
MM: No, not really, what has happened will continue to happen…RKHS will just continue to be a monopoly…
MM: Yeah, in the end you just have to obey authority. Although this is a UWC, the college just isn’t as liberal as it seems.
Soon after my interview with them, I decided to ask some students what they thought about the whole issue…
“I really liked the shop a lot. The food was good, and it was at a reasonable price. I don’t think RKHS was really being threatened since the two shops sell different stuff. The food there was really good and I hope that it can be reopened. And I’d like to add that competition encourages efficiency, so it wouldn’t be a bad thing.”
– Ludiwien. (1st Customer at the shop.)
“It was fun working there. A little stressful sometimes, but still exciting, coz’ there were a lot of customers. It’s unfair that the shop was closed down. The food there was much better than that at the coffee shop. They worked really hard for the shop, so abruptly shutting it down was not fair.”
– Shekhar. (A 1st year worker at the shop, besides Yoon.)
Our well-wishers normally tell us that it is always a good thing if we want to achieve something, and are willing to work hard for it. But was it such a good thing for the two second years who will be missing project week for the same reasons?
- United World College Student Magazine –
“We should do something.”
The Global Affairs session on Tuesday, the 23rd of October was intended to be a little different from usual Global Affairs session. The purpose of the session was not only to discuss an important situation that is affecting our neighboring country, but also propose viable solutions for the problem in Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar). Some of the discussions that take place in Global Affairs sessions are usually just discussing global conflicts from a very superficial perspective. The aim of this session was to look at the issue from a deeper level and try and understand the different perspectives relating to the situation in Myanmar. The complexity of the issue, I thought, can only be understood once we start looking at possible solutions. During the small group discussions, it was evident that all of us seemed to disagree with everything. No. Military intervention is bad. Look at what is happening in Iraq. But yes, we must do something. No. diplomatic pressures don’t work. The government couldn’t care less. And ha. Economic sanctions? Don’t you think that would only cause more trouble for the poor? That won’t work. But yes, we must do something. There were some interesting solutions proposed during the discussions. While these solutions are obviously open to criticism, they were solutions that were proposed by students and teachers as a result of the discussion. There were four main solutions that were thrashed left and right by the people present.
The first proposed solution was military intervention. The United Nations (UN) should deploy troops to go into Myanmar to ensure peace and security in and around Myanmar. However, the UN is an international body that maintains its policy of not breaching the sovereignty of any country. This essentially means that the issue in Myanmar is an internal matter and should not be debated at the UN unless it threatens the peace and security of the world. This was the second solution. The UN can’t do anything since it is an issue that concerns only the people of Myanmar. Therefore, we must do nothing. However, is that possible when you hear about cases of Human Rights violations in Myanmar? What can be done about this issue without taking either of the two extremes? There were two other answers to that: diplomatic pressures and economic sanctions. We condemn it. Envoys from different countries ‘condemn’ what is going on in Burma. The question still exists: does it make a difference? To some, that’s how far we can go without breaching the sovereignty of the country. To others, this wasn’t enough. It was proposed that economic sanctions would be the most effective solution because that would impose a threat on the military regime in Burma. The criticism for this solution was that it will only affect the poor because the military could increase the petrol prices even more than 500% [it has already increased the price by 500%]. Funding the rebel groups or providing the people of Burma with humanitarian aid could result in additional weapons in the country. Also, this could be completely unfruitful unless a feasible method of “channeling” this money to the people is formulated.
Therefore, instead, enforcing arms and weapons embargoes on Burma could be a possible solution, in which case no country would supply the military regime in Burma with weapons. This would directly affect the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), the military government, since only the SPDC uses weapons and violence. The rebel groups, including the Buddhist monks, do not use weapons and would not harm them in any way. The problem with this, though, is that it needs to be raised in the UN Security Council and convincing all the five superpowers to pass this resolution would be the challenging part. Although the USA, the UK and France promote sanctions on Myanmar, China opposes the move (for ideological reasons). The problem lies in tackling China and preventing from sanctions to be vetoed in the Security Council.
The Human Rights violations occurring in Myanmar should be the supreme reason for some sort of international action to take place. Are these solutions viable? If a neighbor such as India refuses to implement economic sanctions on Myanmar, can other countries take any effective action? Is the UN a body that is capable of taking such actions? Stay tuned for the next Global Affairs session. ;)
- United World College Student Magazine –
Hi there to my fellow UWCers,
My name is Jin and I am the chief editor of the Libertarian in the Mahendra UWC of India. FYI, we are a new newspaper on campus which started only last year going on into this year. To explain a little on the choice of the name is to relate to how the paper works. We, the editors, encourage the UWC youth today to write whatever that comes to mind, whether is it about how bad the dryers’ conditions are on campus to the recent outrage in Burma. Furthermore, we don’t edit your articles, as in we don’t apply any sort whatsoever kind of censorship over their articles (except correcting the occasional mispelling and grammatical errors). The following is the link to our first edition for the year…. enjoy….
- United World College Student Magazine –