Maria Laura Andrade

UWC attended: United World College Costa Rica
Class Year: Class of 2018

I was born in Ambato, a city located in the Ecuadorian highlands. Every morning I was used to wake up with a beautiful panoramic view of a small spot of “Los Andes”. Two years ago I got a scholarship to study at United World College Costa Rica, and I had to say goodbye to my beloved country and landscapes.  Anyway, to be honest the Costa Rican landscapes are so gorgeous. The views and the sunsets left me speechless, but my host country’s landscapes were not the only things that delighted me. The UWC experience itself was so rich, so challenging, so unique… that it is actually very hard to decide what I enjoyed the most of it.

I would say that my UWC experience was life changing because from each experience that I went through, beautiful or tragic, I learnt and reflected about important lessons. I love how I had the freedom to imagine, to question, and to create, which helped me to discover who I am, and who I want to be. Perhaps, during the past two years I had more questions than answers, but precisely that is what I enjoyed the most. UWC enabled and encouraged me to redefine myself as I wish, and to reformulate concepts or situations that may seem static.

I have been such a fortunate person. My childhood was rich in experiences, and my interests were influenced by my family’s activities. I grew up with my parents’ support and guidance, and they gave me the freedom to explore by myself and learn from my environment. We have always traveled to the countryside, and as a child I learnt to love and to explore it, to eat fruits from the trees and to harvest veggies with my grandfather. All these helped me to develop a deep connection with nature. As well, I have always had animals around, cats, bunnies, dogs, chickens, and I have learnt to love and respect them. Once in Costa Rica, I got the opportunity to volunteer at an animal shelter. It was a fascinating experience that accentuated my respect for animals, and let me learn about animal neglect and possible solutions. Through this volunteering I also got interested in learning more about the relation between humans and animals.

My interest is not exclusive to understand this relation, though. I also want to learn about the cultural aspects behind humans’ relation with the environment and the food production system. I hope Lewis and Clark can give me insight into these topics and guide me to understand better humanity and its complexity. To complement these expectations, I would like to pursuit a major in Sociology and Anthropology, and I am also willing to learn more about education, ecology, gastronomy and food production.

University has been a big deal this last year, but it was a process that I found intense and interesting.  I think that in a decision of this nature it absolutely hard to know what decision is correct or which option is better. However, when I decided to join the Lewis and Clark community, I just felt it was the best fit for me. I felt so welcomed since the moment I was accepted. People were kind at answering my doubts, and I received through emails the guidance and information that I needed.  Lewis and Clark’s generosity was also crucial factor.  As an UWC student I received a generous financial aid, which made it possible for my family to afford college expense.

I am very enthusiastic about the diversity, the outdoors activities, the educational focus and the strong community sense that the college offers. I hope to find at Lewis and Clark an authentic passion for learning and a space to explore my limitless curiosity. I am willing to acquire more knowledge, to expand my readings, to visit farms, to travel, to get immerse in the country’s culture, to learn from it and respect it. I am looking forward to discover Portland’s beautiful landscapes and city, and to learn from its people worldview. Well, I hope I can get the best of each experience at Lewis and Clark, even from the hardest ones.