Wiam Skakri has never been able to rest on her laurels. Born and raised in Morocco, she always sought a future abroad. What she never expected was that her dream could come true whilst a teen — until she set her sights on United World College, USA (UWC-USA). “I immediately knew that applying was the right thing to do,” she says.
Skakri was right. She didn’t feel the slightest bit of homesickness when she got on a plane for the very first time to travel to Montezuma, New Mexico — simply because she was ready to broaden her horizons in a school known for offering learners a transformative, yet enriching journey to academic excellence. UWC-USA believes in the power of immersion, rather than instruction — such as when Skakri made mastering the English language her mission.
“I remember them speaking slowly during meetings, reiterating the importance of us asking questions, and pairing us with English language learning buddies who were always easy to converse with,” she explains.
Support offerings like these made it all the easier for Skakri to thrive in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. The IBDP is one of the most recognised and respected high school diplomas in the world. Through it, students stand the chance to get into over 600 universities and colleges in almost 50 countries. For UWC-USA’s IBDP students, options are seemingly endless to those up for a challenge.
UWC-USA’s intimate classroom settings and a keen emphasis on personalised learning perfectly complement such rigour. Comfortable and engaged, Skakri customised her curriculum to advance her knowledge in Mathematics, Physics, English, Arabic, Global Politics and the Arts. Her choices have transported her across the globe.
“I have special memories with my global politics teacher because of a week-long trip our class took to the south of New Mexico,” she explains. “While the lessons I learned were great, I’ll never forget when he drove me to Walmart to replace the glasses I lost.”
Skakri’s journey is a prime example of how UWC-USA’s IBDP approach comprises real-world experiences via experiential education and cultural perspectives. To complete the programme, all students must participate in Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS) — which is divided into four signature programme areas: Wilderness, Arts and Culture, Sustainability, and The Bartos Institute for the Constructive Engagement of Conflict (CEC), which stands out for its world-changing capabilities.
The CEC programme was designed to provide students with formal opportunities to build the essential life skills of peacemaking, conflict resolution, goal-setting, and collaboration. Hence, students enrich their own lives while bettering those of others through each activity set in place. For instance, students explore renewable energy, water stewardship, and food justice issues through “Climate Resilience.”
Meanwhile, “Restorative Justice” helps learners stay curious about differences, collaborate when problems arise, and gain understanding to help prevent problems going forward — all while working with adult and juvenile justice facilities and programmes to restore community and create real change.
The theme of betterment persists throughout all CAS activities. Skakri is proud of her participation in the Wilderness programme, which has provided her and her peers opportunities to challenge themselves and develop leadership skills while cultivating a keener appreciation for the natural resources surrounding them.
Every UWC-USA opportunity has played a vital role in helping Skakri forge enduring connections, which have collectively inspired her passion for helping others. “I’m currently a member of a club that focuses on student wellness,” she explains. “Our role entails speaking to students who are going through challenging situations and providing support without breaching their trust.”
Skakri is certain her mission will continue once she graduates and joins the university of her dreams — much like the many graduates before her who have dedicated their careers to making a difference. They credit their time at UWC-USA for shaping them to be changemakers for life.
To this day, students and faculty conduct over 17,000 hours of community service every year — putting into practice the values fundamental to the UWC mission. Each minute spent working in shelters, tutoring children, or renovating community centres boosts their ability to spend the rest of their lives promoting justice, peace and equity throughout their quest to global leadership.
If this sounds like the education you envision for your child, click here to learn more about UWC-USA.