Giving Back to My UWC National Committee as a UWC Student
Reflection by Maksym (UWC Mahindra College, 2019-2021) from the UWC National Committee of Ukraine
My name is Maksym and I am from Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine. In May 2021 I graduated from UWC Mahindra College (MUWCI), and currently, I am a first-year student at the University of Chicago. I first heard about the United World Colleges at a youth non-formal education camp from a friend who ended up studying at UWC ISAK Japan and was immediately drawn to the idea of applying for the program. I was excited about the opportunity to get a world-class education while learning more about the world and the culture of my host country. I was also thrilled to continue my community service engagement on a new level, this time by developing social projects of my own together with peers.
My involvement with the UWC Ukrainian National Committee (NC) started about a year ago while I was still a second-year student at MUWCI. Knowing that the new selection process was about to start, I was eager to give back to the Ukrainian UWC community and work with people who nominated me for a scholarship just a year earlier. One area that seemed to need my help was PR and communications; at that point our NC only used Facebook to share important updates, thus failing to reach the target audience of teenagers. Having some previous experience in non-profit social media management, I decided to outline my vision for a more effective communication strategy which among others included an expansion to Instagram, the introduction of interactive content such as student takeovers, and partnering with other NGOs to promote the selections process. After getting an enthusiastic go-ahead from the NC board and spending a few months implementing my ideas, all the hard work paid off. In 2020, more Ukrainian students applied to the selections than ever before, and the number of applications increased by over 60% compared to 2019.
The idea of giving back to the UWC community has always been important to me. All the resources and efforts put into me have given my life a completely new direction, and although I cannot repay those, I can at least make sure that more students get a chance to become a part of the UWC movement too. I am excited about the opportunity to introduce the program to more Ukrainian youngsters, allowing them to become change-makers in the future. This year, I am planning to continue my work, this time serving as a member of the NC Board and a Head of PR and Partnerships.
Apart from the ability to fulfill a bigger mission, volunteering for the National Committee helped me develop personally a lot. Over the past year, I learned so much about communications, non-profit management, teamwork, graphic design, and more. I got to know many Ukrainian alumni, developing my network and receiving mentor advice and was able to get first-hand experience of being on the selections team, something that definitely helped me craft better college applications.
My message to all the current students and young graduates is simple: don’t hesitate to offer your help to the UWC community! Reach out to your National Committee, organise an event with fellow alumni, apply for a position at the UWC International Office, or do whatever else you can to support the program. Not only will it be a great chance to develop your personal and professional skills, but it will also be a fulfilling experience as you help the movement thrive.