12th July 2022 | by Lucía Sobrado Louzao
I get up with a smile on my face. It is my birthday, and I am about to pick a flight to go to Austria to attend the Short Course UWC Redefining Equality. At that moment, I wasn’t aware of the adventure that was coming. I arrived in Madrid and I meet another Spanish girl that was coming. She cried. I cried. We remember the multiple times we called each other, daydreaming about the Short Course and the people we were going to meet there. The dream was getting real. When we arrived at the Innsbruck Airport, we met another guy from the Short Course and two facilitators, that later on returned to be my umbrella parents.
I clearly remember what happened when I arrived at my room, where my roommates were sleeping. One of them, who was from Albania, got up. She asked me if I needed help or something. She was the kindest. My first impression of her didn’t change much during the course. The next day, we met properly, both of my roomies were awesome, and I was so happy. It is incredible to have always someone to talk to before going to sleep, someone to say good night and good morning. Someone that you can look at and laugh at. When I arrived in the dining room to get my breakfast I met the Spanish group, which I already knew from our calls in the past few months from the selection. My nickname in the selection was fireflies, which is luciérnaga in Spanish. For me, it has a very important meaning, and I was so surprised and moved when they gave me a little box with a firefly pendant. I hugged them and from that, I instantly understood the kind of people they were. If the day couldn’t go any better, the whole course sang me a birthday song and the facilitators brought a cake just for me to blow the candles. It was so amazing of them.
Besides the content of the Short Course, we also had outside activities. We went on a rollercoaster, a kind of sled in the middle of the mountains. It was so much fun! We also went hiking and visited the beautiful village of Imst, where we had the opportunity of interacting with some local ones. Austria is a beautiful country, with amazing gastronomy and friendly people.
In the following days, we did a lot of things. I had the opportunity of getting to know better everyone and learn so much from their cultures. Every day we had a topic, like racism, disabilities, sexism, LGTBQ+, social identities, power, climate change… And we did activities related to the topics. One of the things I enjoyed the most was when we talked in a circle altogether, exposing our opinions and listening to each other. It was so interesting that we continued discussing after the session. Everyone was engaged and willing to learn.
It is hard for me to describe how I felt during these two weeks. How would you describe with words how it feels to be accepted by everyone? How would you describe the feeling of being truly yourself without feeling judged? That is UWC. A community of people who respect each other, no matter who you are. In the Short Course, I felt that I belonged somewhere, in a community of people who supported me and cared for me. Every day, there was someone who made my day just by telling me something nice or smiling at me. Finding a place where you feel belonged and are cared for is not easy. Sometimes is not the place, it is the people. People that make you happy and loved.
" Coming here had me realize how different everyone was, but at the same time, very similar. We all shared the same concerns and the same values, even though we have different experiences. That is diversity. Coming from different backgrounds made the Short Course more interesting because it lent us to learn from each other."
Lucía Sobrado Louzao , Participant from Spain
To be honest, I had the best time of my life. Personally, it is hard for me to find people who worry about racism, feminism, injustice, power, sustainability, equity… And it is hard to find people with whom I can have a deep conversation at any time, most people find it boring, but I think is fascinating.
You only get to live once, and you will be on earth for a short time, so you shouldn’t spend it talking about the weather. Be surrounded by people who can teach you something, people who love, accept, and care for you. Now, I am more confident about myself, knowing that I have found my people. A family where I can always go. I realized that Redefining Equality was not only for learning about injustices but also for Redefining Ourselves.
28 July 2019 | by Marysia Szuster
Imagine living in the XXIst century in one of the most developed countries of the first world. You feel safe, freely express your religion and wear clothes that are part of your culture, but at the same time, you don’t harm anyone and expect the same respect. You have a right to that, unfortunately, it is broken way too often.