"You're not stupid, Lina. You know that none of that matters."
The school was schizophrenic. Ostensibly, we gave our hearts to the true values that the college was founded upon. After class everyday we would split into each of our specialized community services, some went to man the lifeboats, others ran the activity center for underprivileged youth and others cleaned the local beaches. In the dorms we reveled in each other’s company. I was crying probably for two years straight from both laughter and sadness. Never a dull moment with a Mauritian, a Tanzanian, an American and a Malaysian in the same room. That’s what we really came for but we couldn’t ignore what some of us were sent there for.
I, like a few others, was also there to get into those universities. That pressure haunted me. The school saw this as a lucrative opportunity. It wasn’t enough to sell the idealistic dream, it had to sell tangible outcomes to prospective students. A culture developed around university applications that couldn’t be ignored. Like a flood that starts with just an inch on the floor, the pressure quickly heightened permeating everything and rising to our necks like a biblical punishment.