Sylvia Nkombo Nkoula

UWC attended: Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacifc
Class Year: Class of 2016

I attended Pearson College also called the UWC of the Pacific up there in Victoria, British Columbia. I had never heard about the UWC movement until my school’s headmistress selected me among six others to pass the selections. I soon wanted to learn more about the movement and I just found it mind-blowing. Unfortunately no Congolese had ever attended a United World College before , so there was no one in my country to share their experience with me. In fact, my national committee was freshly new and even now is still learning. Only two scholarships were available, so to get one of them was a dream. The dream was delivered as a birthday’s present. And few months later, Pedder Bay was welcoming me.

I literally fell in love with Pearson!  It being the first time I had to live without parents, I got to learn things by myself and grow up with my peers. I experienced tolerance, acceptance and respect. The most incredible part of Pearson College for me was the people:  they made every day a new adventure and helped me meet every challenge. Words cannot describe what I learned there.

 The first time I arrived in Canada, I was picked up at the airport by the director of my school, he introduced himself to me as David, not Dr. Hawley but David. I was shocked and soon I understood that no adult was called by his/her title in order to create an environment where everyone could freely express himself/herself and where titles won’t create boundaries. This was only possible in a small community.  And the Lewis and Clark community was just perfectly small compared to other colleges. Its size guaranteed me a one-to-one relationship with teachers just like in my UWC .  I know no better way to success.

I am thinking of majoring in Biochemistry. I have always been interested in Biology and medical sciences.  My mother works in a hospital and I got the chance to visit her there, where I learned so many things and where I dreamed of working. Following my dreams I volunteered in a fertility clinic for two weeks where I could put in practice some notions I learned and learn even more. For chemistry, it is another story, I have never been “good” at it but while in Pearson my teacher kept motivating me and in a way shared her passion with me. It is a road I definitely want to explore.

I love running in the forest, feeling the earth under me and breathing some fresh air.  It is such a relaxing activity.  It takes you away from everything and leaves you with yourself, which is necessary. Also, I am a big fan of “vieillerie” a French word meaning old stuff, mostly used to designate music.  So yes, I listen to the same kind of music as my parents and I love it! My interest is directed towards artists from the Democratic Republic of Congo (my neighbooring country!) and from France, the music is respectively in Lingala and French, two of my three native languages.

My biggest blessing in life is to have been selected to attend an United World College with my best friend.  I got to share my experience with somebody really close, living the same thing as me. She attended UWC USA while I went to Pearson. The distance did not kill our friendship but we kept talking every day and for hours”¦.

Going to Pearson College in Canada was my first big trip.  it was the first time I left my country. Since then I  visited France this last summer and now the US. I discovered a passion for traveling and am planning on traveling a lot. I don’t want to just visit foreign countries but also to increase my knowledge of my own country.  That is the reason why last summer, when I visited localities in the Republic of Congo, it felt strange to notice that it wasn’t the same life in the same land.

While I am at Lewis & Clark, I hope to grow in maturity and learn from others.