MAC SPEAKS: What do you want from your community? | Vandy Sengeh’16 | Sierra Leona

TMW: What were your expectations about the Mac community before you arrived on-campus as a first year?

VS: I expected the student body to be really involved and universally knowledgeable of so many things around the world. I expected to find a lot of people with a variety of backgrounds, that are interested in sharing and talking about the world and are motivated to change the world. Since I’m from the United World College, I thought it was going to be a perfect fit because the United World College is just like that.

Do you feel like it was the perfect fit for you?

Yeah, to some extent. It challenges me in several aspects, and of course I enjoy that. I’m someone who’s passionate about getting involved in a lot of volunteering work. I can see that Macalester is really good in that area. They have a lot of ways where you can give back to several communities, anywhere you want to go in the world. They have several organizations that speak about issues concerning different parts of the world. If I want to talk about a specific topic that I think is affecting me greatly or I think students are supposed to know about, there are people I can go to on campus that will encourage me to do that—there is a platform. That really makes me feel that it’s the right fit for me and makes me feel that the choice I made was really good. Of course, most of the people are very amazing and supportive in hard times. The only thing is that the weather is quite different from where I’m from. I feel there are other little things that don’t quite give it the 100 percent perfect fit for me.

Do you want to talk about the little things that are missing that don’t make Macalester a perfect fit?

I thought that it would be a perfect place even if not 100 percent of the students are interested in those issues that drew me to the college: people who are globally minded and who are really interested in making sure they have an impact on different communities. However I feel like quite a lot of people—and I don’t know if academics are taking over people—are not really interested in knowing so much about other parts of the world. Maybe people are concentrated in their own little interests. Sometimes that’s difficult for me to comprehend. It’s great that at Macalester we have 60 percent of our students involved in some sort of volunteering. That’s great, but I thought it would be a higher percentage of people.

What do you hope for, as far as any changes in the community, in the year and half you have left here?

Maybe it’s not possible, but I think people should give importance to most of Macalester’s values rather than just choosing a specific one—like spending your entire year and half just studying and making sure you get a 4.0 GPA, compared to enjoying the length and breadth of all what Macalester has to offer. Macalester has great programs and you can take as many classes as you wish, but at the same time there are so many things going on in the Institute for Global Citizenship. Just going there you will find out a lot. There is so much to do in the Cities and ways to involve yourself in the community. Not only outside of the Macalester community, but even within. Don’t just be involved in one particular org for the rest of your time at Macalester. Explore. Go to a meeting of a club you have no relation to. Specifically for me, I want to extend my interest to things I have not really experienced.

What would you like the Mac community to look like 50 years from now?

For the next 50 years we’ll be alums and much older. I want us to still be interested. If I am just going to classes and I graduate, I will not really feel I left my mark on the campus. It will be quite easy for me to not talk or be proud about the school. I will just be looking forward to my own progress in life and my own achievement. At this point in our lives, anything that makes us very happy will be hard for us to forget about it in the long run. But after 50 years, if you were the person that made use of all that Macalester had to offer, you’d be a great donor, you’d still be involved in the school, still coming for reunions because it’s a place where you enjoyed yourself, the place that provided your first set of really great experiences.