Liam Brown was looking forward to starting his senior year of high school, where he was going to be the captain of the soccer team. But instead, he decided to enroll at a boarding school in rural New Mexico, 2,000 miles from his New Hampshire home.
Brown studied for two years at UWC-USA, one of the 17 schools and colleges on four continents in the United World Colleges, a global education movement with an emphasis on international diversity. UWC schools teach the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma curriculum and students at come from around the world—75 percent of Brown’s classmates were international.
“UWC is such an experience,” says Brown. “Now when I look at maps, I don’t see the countries and the boundaries—I see my friends’ faces. With a student body that diverse, you get to see different trains of thought and ways of being, how people see problems and choose to solve them.”
For example, he talks about soccer (he did end up captain after all). His co-captains were Dutch and German; none of them played the game the same the way, but they could all put the ball in the net.
“That’s a great way to see UWC,” he says. “We want to work toward a world that’s more peaceful and sustainable. We’re more similar than we are different.”
After graduating, Brown became a Davis UWC Scholar, UWC alumni who receive financial support to enroll at a U.S. college or university. Lehigh University is one of the program’s 94 partners and the natural choice for Brown. His mother graduated in 1981, and he participated in the Pennsylvania School for Global Entrepreneurship (now the Iacocca Global Entrepreneurship Intensive), which brings high school students from around the world to campus in the summer to learn about business and leadership.
“I lived on campus, interacted with Lehigh professors and students, and learned what makes Lehigh special,” he says. “From that moment, Lehigh became what a college should be in my mind and no other school matched it.”
Now a senior, Brown is majoring in international relations and economics. In summer 2016, he had an Iacocca International Internship in Tblisi, Georgia. He worked in the Office of the State Minister of Georgia on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, where he helped the ministry meet its goals for the Association Agreement with the European Union. He edited policy papers that had been translated into English and sat in on conferences with department heads about the integration process. He even edited an opening speech for one of the forums Georgia had with the EU.
“With my international relations and economics background, working in a government building was an incredible experience,” he says. “It was great for someone looking to go into the State Department or Peace Corps.
This past summer, Brown got a chance to see international relations from a different perspective with an internship in private industry. He worked at Raytheon, the U.S. defense contractor and industrial corporation, in the contracts department of Integrated Defense Systems, one of its five major business divisions.
After graduation, he’s looking to continue his global path by working in international development, which has been the focus of his economics studies.
“I like that each country is so different and there’s no cookie cutter solution,” he says. “That makes it fascinating.”
Whatever he ends up doing, it won’t be boring or close to home.
“I’m not an idle person,” he says. “I kind of get stir crazy and look for something international.”