For our next installment of Alumni in the Spotlight we have the incomparable Gintarė Eidmtaitė. Gintarė attended UWC Adriatic in Italy from 2004-2006. Originally from Lithuania, she is now based in Geneva, Switzerland where she works as a humanitarian affairs officer for the UN. Read on to find out how the UWC experience helps amazing people like Gintarė reach their potential and change the world.
What made you want to go to UWC in the first place?
I was itching to discover the world and surround myself by idealistic nerds like me. One day, I saw an ad calling for applications in a newspaper, googled the school and read up on UWC values… I remember being blown away, it really sounded like a place for me.
Before I arrived at UWC I was just a little bit scared of the unknown, though supremely excited about learning Italian and drinking cappuccinos every day.
Was there anything that you got out of your experience at UWC that you didn’t expect to?
My UWC experience both validated and made me question my identity, values and outlook to the world. But, above all, it gave me a sense of possibility: experiences, opportunities and encounters I hadn’t dreamed of were suddenly right in front of me.
How do you think your life would be different if you didn’t go to UWC?
I probably would not have ended up with a career in the service of others. For years when working for NGOs, my dad kept asking me when I was going to get a “real job”. Also, many of my closest, most cherished friends would not be in my life.
How has your time at UWC directly affected your life today?
Several years after graduation, I helped a very bright and talented young woman in South Sudan get into another UWC school. She is still in my life, and is now part of our family. The experience of helping someone navigate the shocks of moving halfway across the world at a very vulnerable time of their life was transformative for me. Then seeing her flourish once again reignited my belief in the potential and awesomeness of humans.
Who is a person you met at UWC who you find most inspiring?
My roommate Manel from Algeria who arrived at the college without English, excelled at school and then university and is now being the coolest mom to the wonderful Sophia. My other roommate Jessica, who is perhaps the most stubbornly just person I have ever met in my life and is now trying to figure out how currents work so we can save the oceans. My history teacher Eunice who forever changed the way I look at the world and understand identity. And, of course, Tez!
What does UWC’s mission mean to you? How do you choose to live the UWC values?
The sense of purpose and idealism I acquired at UWC is still very much within me. At home and at work, I strive to always challenge myself, to lead by example, to do everything with integrity and compassion. In a job where fatigue sometimes seems like the only way to remain sane, I feel like at UWC I built a base which keeps me firm and focused on why I do what I do.
What’s your job/vocation/career?
I’m a humanitarian affairs officer at the United Nations working on emergency preparedness and response in the Americas region. In particular, I manage the system where the best of the UN and of national disaster managers come together, are trained in the same methodology and then deploy to countries affected by earthquakes, floods, cyclones or other emergencies, as well as on search and rescue methodologies and capacity. I also deploy to emergencies to support humanitarian coordination. This year, I was in Afghanistan working on a drought affecting over 2 million people.
What does the UWC Challenge mean to you?
For one, it’s an awe-inspiring feat to even attempt it. I find it incredible that Tez is giving back in such an enormous way. UWC challenge will get more kids from across the world live a transformational experience, embark on a new life journey and create a more peaceful and sustainable world.