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Alumni News: April 2024 Edition

Welcome to the April edition of Alumni News! Scroll below to check out our latest stories!

Alanna Sethi ‘21: Bringing hope to mental health awareness

Alanna was recently honoured as a recipient of 2024’s Global Citizen’s Youth Leaders Award – a prize awarded to young innovators working to address UN Sustainable Development Goals.  As the founder of a youth-led non-profit mental health organization called HOPE (Helping Our Planet Earth), her dream is to make mental health accessible to every young person. Be it for issues they may have faced in the past, present or near future.

We caught up with Alanna to learn more about her NGO and the importance of mental health in youth.

Can you share in greater detail what HOPE is about?
HOPE is an international NGO currently undergoing the S88 charity registration in Hong Kong. We operate led by our youth leadership team (currently aged 16 to 22) for accurate youth representation. Beyond our current innovative research in accessible mental health solutions, we empower young people with prevention-focused self-help and adaptable wellness tools, peer support and youth advocacy training. We are supported by registered mental health clinicians on our Clinical Advisory Board and new NGO-Management Advisory Board.

The conversation on mental health is starting to take shape. What are some of the simple ways we can embrace this?There are times when the conversation might be uncomfortable or unfamiliar. It’s okay and completely valid to feel that way. We’ve been taught growing up about how to express ourselves, which is often restrictive of how we talk about mental health due to stigma. Finding your own way of sharing your voice and experience, and listening to others is a part of facilitating healthy open conversations. Be honest, say as much as you feel comfortable with. Afterwards, take care of yourself too with comforting and soothing activities. Remember all feelings are valid and it’s okay to have different experiences and perspectives.

It’s been a while since you left UWCSEA. Can you recall any specific teachers, other people, classes, or other experiences at UWCSEA that helped shape where you are now?

Attending UWCSEA for Primary and Middle school influenced my passion to contribute to global issues and the wider community. I am extremely grateful to all my teachers, including Mrs Bray for supporting my leadership development on the Student Council, Mrs Kedia for always answering my questions, Mr Taylor (P.E Instructor) for encouraging our class (all-girls) to feel comfortable sharing our voice, exploring what we can accomplish and how to throw, Mrs Ferris and Mrs Hambleton, the Chinese Instructors and the wider UWCSEA community for emphasising the importance of literature, culture, diversity, and so many more.

Yangsze Choo ‘92: Latest book is a fantastical tale of fox spirits

New York Times bestselling author Yangsze published her third book titled, The Fox’s Wife last February to glowing reviews which include The Washington’s Post and Oprah Daily.

According to Yangsze, she doesn't thoroughly plan out her novels – her latest book blossomed from that core idea behind the title, of a woman who also happens to be a fox. But beyond that, it's a story about a mother avenging her child, about a murder investigation in early 20th century China, and about family curses. Read more about it here.

Yangsze’s previous books include The Night Tiger and The Ghost Bride which was made into a Netflix original series.


Joe Zhou ‘22: UWCSEA Alumni represent at UWC Congress 2024

Held once every six years, the recent UWC Congress was the finale to UWC's 60th-anniversary celebrations and brought together over 400 participants at UWC Thailand in Phuket and many more virtually In an incredible line-up of keynote speakers, Nadiem Makarim ‘02 set the tone in the opening plenary session.

Young alum Joe Zhou ‘22 reports to us on his experience at the Congress!

Tell us your experience at UWC International Congress 2024: Education as a Force

It was an eye-opening experience to engage with UWC representatives from around the world, exchange perspectives and participate in discussions on how collectively we can improve education to better prepare our students for the future complexities was a profoundly impactful experience. Witnessing the dedication and passion that the attendees put into throughout the Congress instilled in me a deep sense of optimism, not only for the future of UWC but for education as a whole. Together with the combination of the above takeaways from the UWC Congress, I am now more confident and dedicated to supporting the UWC movement, and this commitment has empowered my pursuits as well.

Give us an example of an event and/or a person you met that inspired you the most

A central topic of discussion at the congress revolved around the adequacy of our existing IB program in preparing the future generation for the challenges of an era of rapid change and complexities like AI, environmental concerns, and social issues. The common consensus was that we’re not doing enough. I learned about the new collaboration between UWC and IB, known as the Systems Transformation Pathway, currently undergoing piloting in Atlantic and soon UWCSEA and I think we’re definitely on the right track!

What was your biggest takeaway?

There is no doubt that the most likely trajectory for the world’s future is globalization and a more interconnected global community, emphasizing the importance of multicultural appreciation as a key to fostering a more peaceful world. United World College serves as a blueprint for this objective, providing a platform for young ambitious talents from around the world to study and live together. Therefore, I firmly believe that the UWC movement embodies a pioneering vision and will play a pivotal role in helping to shape a more unified global community.


We’d love to hear more exciting updates from you! Simply send us a summary between 100-150 words and an accompanying image (at least 1mb) related to your update via email!