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9 July 2021

and unusual character contradictions

If someone asked me to describe myself when -- in the distant 2013, at the age of 15 -- I learned I was going to UWC, I would have offered a lot of answers. Too many answers. Enough to talk about myself for hours. In contrast, here’s Georgina’s answer to a similar question: “I don’t particularly like to describe myself. I don’t think you can define yourself that much… I think people are often wrong when they describe themselves because whatever you say won’t be entirely true.” You can imagine that writing a profile for someone who enjoys ambiguity isn’t the easiest task.

I suspect Georgina avoids categorizing herself because, in truth, there are several Georginas that come out depending on the circumstances. I noticed the first version of hers in November, when I read the creative essay in her application. In it, Georgina describes a TV show where scientists have to find a significant other, so they use pick up lines like if I’m an alkali metal, you must be a halogen, because I’d love for us to form an (ionic) bond! This is Georgina when she’s relaxed, when she’d describe herself as goofy. This is the version that was present for most of our walk (the one which gave a hearty chuckle after she slipped while eagerly walking to grab a coffee).

    But, sometimes, you might encounter the melancholic Georgina. This is the version of the highschooler which reflects, deeply, on her experiences; the one which, even at an early age, rejected invitations to play outside because she’d rather color on her own. It’s not surprising that, in this form, Georgina starts writing poetry, and even manages to publish a collection of poems by the end of her first year in high school. She’s described poetry as “a spiritual protest, and the only genuine magic that humanity possesses,” so she writes lyrics along the lines of:

"I often speak
with water inquisitively,
asking her to shelter me 
in her salty chambers, 
and she often responds
lifting me in the air..."

The two Georgina’s might seem like they contradict each other. The goofy version jumps into new challenges -- in fifth grade, she proudly sang a self-composed song in front of the music teacher, only to be politely asked to, perhaps, take her talents anywhere other than the school choir. The melancholic version collects memories, from the flow sheet in her first debate round to tickets to museums and postcards. Most of the keepsakes are in a notebook, but some -- an old clock that used to belong to the poet Ante Popovski -- have a special spot on her shelf.

I think Georgina can avoid a cognitive dissonance because she refuses to accept a single categorization; she refuses to describe herself as a single thing. She’s noticed that it’s possible -- heck, even useful -- to accept sometimes-contradictory ideas. Maybe it’s exactly this ability that explains her many debate successes, including winning the National Debate Championship last year, and being the second-place speaker this year.

    Precisely because she can be many things at once, I think Georgina will have a formative experience at the UWC in Canada. I’m confident she’ll leave Pearson with plenty of material for her future poetry, and, in the meantime, she’ll fill her notebook with postcards from all around the world.

Bobo Stankovikj, June 2021