We are Wellington | Getting to know yourself, Katia ‘20
Our ongoing We are Wellington series shares our community’s memories, thoughts and experiences of life at Wellington. Katia is one of our 2020 leavers who considers her time at Wellington while weighing her university offers and preparing for the next step in her education.
Early days at Wellington
Like a lot of people who come to Wellington, I remember being struck by the facilities it has to offer. Their size and quality impressed me, but more importantly I thought about all the things that they would allow me to do. My thinking was – if everyone had the resources to get involved in what truly interests them, then there wouldn’t be overwhelming competition that would lock me out of anything I care about doing. In short, I saw the campus and I felt like I would have space to grow. This turned out to be true, and I grew both academically and in terms of exploring and understanding myself. Wellington College takes the “international” in its name quite seriously, which is exactly what I wanted from a school environment. I am half-Chinese, half-Russian, so I felt, even back then, that I would fit in better in a community that accepts and understands different cultures without exception. Very quickly, I discovered that everyone here is open to new perspectives and ideas. At the same time though, Wellington is also a place that makes it very easy for you to find people whose outlook on things aligns with yours, no matter what that outlook is. To me, that’s pretty much a perfect balance.
New interests, new experiences
My main sporting experience here has been volleyball, a sport I had not really tried at all previously. I joined the nascent volleyball squad in year 9 and I’ve been with it for the past four years. During that time I got to see my team grow and develop before my eyes, and it was a big deal for me to watch us become better teammates, better players and better athletes. One of my favourite memories was going to the ACAMIS Beijing tournament, the first trip I took with school for sport. Not only did I get to play competitively against some fierce opposition, I got to see the city with my friends too, so it meant a lot to me even though it was only for a weekend. This is just one of numerous examples of how Wellington designs trips and experiences outside of the College to help you widen your perspective and always be on the lookout to take in something new.
Any of my fellow year 13s will tell you that the IB is tough, but worth it. It is a process that has given me a lot to think about – not just the subjects I’ve learned but also the way I’ve tried to handle that learning. Alongside my studies, I also wrote and edited a novel which was subsequently published, so I have had to keep a lot of plates spinning over the past few years! This has been hard of course, but it taught me so much about time management and prioritisation. To be honest, I had to say no to a number of things I would otherwise have liked to try, in order to work for the long-term goals I cared most about. I think I’ve learned to be more aware of what I want to work towards and how to discover the best way to do that. This is something I don’t believe I could have learned just anywhere. As for important opportunities, one of my most enduring memories of my Wellington experience will be my IB Fellowship project involving microfinance in Cambodia. Microfinance is the provision of small loans to independent business owners who for various reasons do not have access to the services of banks. I went to work with a company called Projects Abroad and joined their microfinance team. We went into slums surrounding Phnom Penh and interviewed small business owners to decide whether they were good recipients of zero-interest loans from the available fund. We also provided basic accounting trading so they could keep their books correctly, which was especially important for those business owners who were illiterate, as we used picture-based resources and aids to make the whole process viable for them. This experience was extremely meaningful, it both gave me hope and showed me the scale of the problem of poverty at the same time. We couldn’t help everyone, because there simply wasn’t the level of funding available, but we did get to see how even a relatively small amount of money – fairly loaned, not given – could make all the difference in letting a business flourish. It was clear to see that this is something that literally changes lives for the better. The most important thing it showed me was that poverty is a problem with practical solutions. If we all put in some of our time, resources and empathy then it is a terrible phenomenon that could be solved. I’m grateful that I had the chance to see this reality and a workable solution in action.
I’m slightly anxious about university life, truth be told. I’m not sure what to expect, though I am heartened by the fact that people say the IB is great training for it. I’m definitely excited to be spending more time on a subject that fascinates me – history (19th century European history to be more specific). I think at Wellington I was lucky to find a very supportive community that gave me the space to become who I am. There was no pressure to conform to a set ideal, and this is something that is both liberating and, sadly, rather rare. I feel that during my time here, I’ve gained a better sense of my identity and beliefs, and that neither were ever unfairly questioned or belittled. I also think that this is very healthy preparation for any young person getting ready to go out into the wider world as an adult, because having a strong sense of self is the best way to know who you want to be and how you want to live. There is one memory that sums up the feel of Wellington best. After finishing IGCSE exams, my friends and I all chipped in to have a big celebratory dinner. It was organised by us, (specifically, by Daniel Ang!) and we all got together to celebrate our survival through IGCSEs while talking animatedly about what we thought the IBDP would be like. At that table we all felt like a family, it was really natural and it felt good to have that comfortable, unspoken bond. That’s what Wellington felt like to me. More relevant articles Congratulations to our Class of 2020 We are Wellington | The value of open-mindedness, Emmie year 13 We are Wellington | From theatre to film, Jack class of 2020