Student Profile for UWC International

My student profile for the UWC International Office :

Paul Lau

UWC’s global philosophy instantly drew my interest

Paul Lau UWC IO Student Profile

Paul Lau, Hong Kong (China) and Canada (UWC Atlantic College 2010/12)

Where do you come from?
I’m a Canadian born Chinese citizen but my family is currently living in Hong Kong. So what does that make me? I’m not very sure myself. I grew up for the larger part of my life in Hong Kong, influenced by a relatively more conservative culture. And yet the six childhood years that I spent in Canada cannot be so easily dismissed. My way of living, my philosophies, even my ideals, were greatly shaped by my childhood and my time in Canada.

Like many other UWCers, I too have an intricate identity. It isn’t a choice between China and Canada, I am a Chinese Canadian.

What were your first impressions upon arriving at UWC Atlantic College?
Everyone arrives with a million questions, or at least I did. I felt a sense of dread at the same time as I felt a desire to embrace everything that came my way. All of this meant that I was dazed and overwhelmed when I arrived at the UWC Atlantic College campus. The returning students were extremely welcoming, had an abundance of energy and made every effort to make us feel comfortable. In such a welcoming and accepting environment it is very easy to loose one’s initial sense of dread and disorientation. Very soon I felt as if I had spent most of my life in this environment.

How did you find out about UWC and why did you apply?

My first introduction to the UWC movement dated back to 2002 when I visited Li Po Chun UWC on an open day with my family. UWC’s international and global philosophy, as well as the innovative and inspirational atmosphere, instantly drew my interest and attention. I have followed the UWC story ever since, watching friends enter and leave UWCs, hearing second-hand how it had changed them and now finally enjoying the UWC experience first-hand for myself.

What do you enjoy most about life at UWC?
The thing that makes life at a UWC special and that stands out from all of the other IB schools in the world is not what goes on inside the classroom, but the people that make up the UWC community. Whether in services, activities or just daily life, it is the diversity within the student body that has made my time here at UWC Atlantic College so special. What seemed perfectly ordinary can now be the fascinating topic for an hour-long discussion, simply because you have people from different backgrounds and cultures – people with different stories. That is the power of UWC.

What’s been the hardest or most challenging part?
‘Time is of the essence’. In an environment where there is always so much to do, where every next event begs for your full attention, where you wish you could do everything, the greatest challenge any UWC student faces is to prioritise what you do. It may be the toughest thing to do and while some may consider it contrary to the purpose of going to a UWC, I will say that you must first accept that no one can ever achieve everything. Better one job well done, than many jobs poorly done.

What subjects are you taking?
I am studying English, Maths, Economics, Spanish, Peace and Conflict Studies and Environmental Systems and Societies.

What are your ambitions after you leave UWC?
I hope to build upon the skills that I have learnt at UWC Atlantic College and apply them in the field of economics, international relations or law while at university. Beyond that, the sky is the limit; I have considered becoming a professor, working in government and non-governmental agencies as well as starting my own social enterprise. Only time will tell which path is most suitable. But regardless of the means, I intend to genuinely improve living conditions for people around the world and to meaningfully tackle the pressing global issues of our time.

My interest in social media and technology led me to set up a blog in 2009. You can read more about my UWC AC experience or contact me at
I sincerely hope that you, like me, will be able to enjoy the UWC experience!